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Weirdo Paperback – 12 Jul 2012

72 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail (12 July 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846687926
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846687921
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.9 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 401,576 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

A great, page-turning read. The construction is effortlessly managed. The sense of place - I remember that Yarmouth / Lowestoft area very well from my book-trawling days - is spot on. I think the whole package works beautifully: memory traces, bad magic, sounds, smells. So thank you again for letting me have an early taste. (Iain Sinclair)

Fans of Cathi Unsworth's potent brand of period noir have come to expect her trademark fluid writing, tense plotting and believable characters but in Weirdo, she has added an extra dimension of intensity. Set partly in the 1980s and partly in the early 2000s, the bang-on and powerful evocation of being a Punk in the provinces twists round the switchback central story of madness and murder like a perfect riff. Satisfying and beautifully done, Weirdo is a brilliant read, by a brilliant author. (Joolz Denby Pre-publication quote 2012-04-05)

A must for fans of crime fiction. (Anne Sexton Hot Press 2012-05-19)

Cathi Unsworth, follows up her masterly noir Bad Penny Blues with another fine crime novel, Weirdo, as a private detective travels to Norfolk to try and unravel the mystery of a schoolgirl's murder. (Simon Evans Choice 2012-06-01)

Another fine crime novel from Cathi Unsworth after her masterly noir, Bad Penny Blues (Simon Evans Choice 2012-06-01)

Unsworth's best yet, as sharp as vinegar on chips (Christopher Fowler FT 2012-06-30)

A serious talent... An unusually gifted writer of heartfelt noir... she has brilliantly captured that desperate sense of teenage boredom, isolation, danger and mayhem. (Henry Sutton Daily Mirror 2012-07-13)

Cathi Unsworth has carved out an idiosyncratic niche writing unsettling, subcultural British noir . . . a creepy, credible page-turner that delights and disturbs. (Metro 2012-07-11)

An absorbing mystery, an extraordinarily powerful evocation of time and place and a cast of characters whose every breath feels real - Unsworth gets better with every book. (Laura Wilson Guardian 2012-07-14)

Bad Penny Blues marked out Cathi Unsworth as a writer of rare talent. Weirdo proves she is no one-hit wonder... Demonstrating once again a fine sense of place and period (1983 and 2003), Unsworth creates a gripping tale of adolescent angst and genuine evil. (Julia Handford Sunday Telegraph 2012-07-15)

The greatest strength of Cathi Unsworth's crime writing to date has derived from her ability to evoke a specific time and place with an intense and visceral skill. Weirdo, her fourth novel, is her finest work yet in that respect, and the fact that it is attached to the most deft and intricate piece of plotting of her career makes it an outstanding addition to the British crime-writing scene . . . page-turning and intense. (Doug Johnstone Independent on Sunday 2012-07-15)

Unsworth draws on her Norfolk upbringing to explore an insular society (David Connett Sunday Express 2012-07-15)

I wanted to write to you to say how much I enjoyed WEIRDO. I loved the setting, of course, and the set-up, but what I was most impressed by is Unworth's representations of the kids at the heart of the story - kids living at the nexus of multiple outsider narratives and embodying the continuation of those narratives. Nobody writes about teenage girls better, in my experience. (Author of The Sea on Fire and Marine Boy Howard Cunnell)

Careful and nuanced characterisation. The plotting, too, is that of an author in full control of her form: detailed and intricate, replete with chicanery, intrigue and surprise . . . Weirdo is Unsworth's best book so far; she keeps getting better and better. (Mark Bond-Webster Eastern Daily Press 2012-07-21)

Masterful . . . brilliant evocation of time and place, Unsworth adds astonishing and disturbing insight into the minds of disaffected youth who cannot find love and acceptance. Terrific. (Marcel Berlins Times 2012-07-28)

A fascinating and hugely enjoyable read (Lynn Taylor Take a Break's Fiction Feast 2012-09-01)

A brilliant and bleak novel about our own adolescents' capacity for murderous hatred, set in an entropic Norfolk seaside town whose wince-makingly well-depicted air of permanent hopelessness seems to have eaten into its young residents' souls.

Unsworth's plotting is superb but it is her ability to convey a sense of time and place that stands out, and she writes wonderfully about music, too. For all the grotesqueness of her story, the novel shares with a good 50 per cent of the best pop songs the ability to recapture something we can all identify with, the intensity of teenage loves and loathings.

(Jake Kerridge Daily Telegraph 2012-08-25)

A sad, elegiac look at youth and innocence . . . a superb read. (Stav Sherez Catholic Herald 2012-08-24)

Unsworth explores the grisly side of parochialism with cool compassion (Vogue 2012-11-01)

Book of the Year: Will be startlingly familiar to anyone who has ever touched base with the dark side of the teenage dream ... as good as British noir fiction currently gets (Janine and Lee Bullman Loud and Quiet Magazine 2012-12-01)

Crime reads of the year: Unsworth gets better with every book (Laura Wilson Guardian 2012-12-01)

Book Description

The new novel from 'the First Lady of Noir Fiction' (David Peace)

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Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brett H TOP 50 REVIEWER on 5 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Weirdo is a very powerful novel. Set in two time periods, the first in 1983 when a horrible crime is committed and the other 20 years later when a PI, Sean Ward, investigates what really happened. This is a book which starts off very slowly, and the first 50 pages or so are dedicated to setting the scene, introducing characters and lengthy descriptions of the locale. However, from then on tension gradually builds, alternating between each time period until the end when the two explosively collide.

Corinne is a strange girl who has been in a secure mental institution for twenty years, after having been convicted of the violent slaying of a schoolmate. Ward has been hired by a QC to investigate what really occurred in the small fictional seaside town of Ernemouth in East Anglia. Although one has a clear idea as to who the victim of the crime may well have been, this is not clarified until right at the end. This strategy works very well and it keeps you guessing throughout as it is easy to identify the two obvious candidates.

This is a story which works well on a number of levels. Ernemouth is described so well that it is easy to imagine walking the streets of this claustrophobic, run down seaside town. Character development is very good, except for the evil characters who remain rather shady and less well defined and this also is a very purposeful tactic used by the author. The institutional and somewhat incestuous corruption which has plagued the town for many years is particularly well portrayed.

Some will be tempted to abandon this book in the slow, early stages, but this would be a big mistake as it becomes an increasingly absorbing read, and the latter part is definitely of page turning intensity. The name of the book is, in my opinion, rather unfortunate and may also put off some readers unnecessarily. This is the first novel by Cathi Unsworth which I have read, but it is really so good that I plan to seek out her other books.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Elliott TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 29 Nov. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The over-riding theme of `Weirdo' is injustice. It is a powerful murder thriller that is dark and disturbing in its exposure of cruelty and corruption in the setting of an insular small town with a mentality of intolerance. In addition there are drugs, prostitution and pornography - and a hint of black magic - what more is necessary for a riveting read? Author Cathi Unsworth cleverly employs alternate chapters between the opening of a legal appeal case in 2003 and the build up to a killing and conviction 20 years previous, and within chapters a number of threads are deftly kept in tandem.

Effort is required to keep up with numerous characters - especially as these are randomly referred to by either surname or first name or by nick-names - but it is worth persevering as the story is imaginative and intense. Perhaps too many side issues are introduced yet in spite of its intricate and complex nature the narrative is skilfully constructed and expertly paced with unlikely characters ingeniously offered as convincing - yet it is far-fetched. But hey - it's fiction - and it makes the most of exciting twists and turns throughout to a series of revealing but unexpected conclusions in the final pages. It may be fiction, but `Weirdo' also prompts thoughts on abuse of power, exploitation of minors, dysfunctional families and sex predators. Suspend belief, ignore the illogical and enjoy an atmospheric hard hitting story - and ponder.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWER on 26 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is an extremely well written and fantastically atmospheric novel. The plot revolves around the investigation by a private detective of sorts into a horrible crime many years ago in a small Norfolk town, and the narrative moves between the present-day(ish) investigation and events at the time of the crime. It is exceptionally well done: the plot is believable, the characters are very well drawn and plausible, and the setting is so well conjured as to be positively claustrophobic.

The book is pretty unremittingly bleak. The story of the original crime is a grim, gripping tale of teenage angst, insecurity and cruelty, and the investigation story conjures a hostile community closing ranks against an outsider very well. I found it compelling but by no means an easy read, and I felt very unsettled by it quite a lot of the time. This is an excellent thing in a book, but doesn't make it comfortable reading.

Don't expect a conventional crime thriller here. There are many aspects of such a thriller in the book and they make it very engrossing, but this is more of a novel about the psychology of teenage alienation and cruelty and of the ethos of a closed community. It is, however, an excellent novel, beautifully written and constructed with important things to say, and I recommend it very warmly.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Edie on 23 Jan. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
For the first time in a long time, I finished a book and started rereading it immediately. Not because it had a tricksy opening to reassess, but to savour the language, having devoured it first time round for plot. This is a mini-masterpiece of UK crime writing. Not just a whodunnit but a whodunwot. Neither victim nor perpetrator are revealed until late into the novel and yet we are hooked, and kept guessing throughout. Into a happy, rundown backwater comp comes Sam, hot from London, having been dragged back to Ernemouth with her mum who has run off with a man half her age. Sam brings discord and suspicion wherever she goes, brewing up divisions and hatreds that run far beyond jostling for queen bee position on the school field.

In Weirdo, the characters are multi-layered and all too real. Even the clearly wicked have their complexities and vulnerabilities. Unsworth creates an intensely vivid atmosphere through location in this tired seaside town with its hatred of outsiders, strangers, weirdos - anyone who deviates from its shiny little norm that is rotten at core. She brings the medieval witch hunt up to date. I'm a sucker for crime and literary novels but they don't often come hand in hand. She keeps pace with the best of them, but never at the expense of subtle, multi-textured language and observation. I can't rate this highly enough. Not read anything else by her yet so am looking forward to the backlist.
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