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Weirdo Paperback – 12 Jul 2012

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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 (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 406,472 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Roroblu's Mum TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 16 Jan 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I will be rather honest and say from the outset that the book is not kind in its portrayal of the characters or the setting. It is rather bluntly-put and has a grey, gloomy and grim perspective that is cleverly portrayed. I found it a little slow to start off with and had to go back a couple of times in the mistaken belief that I had missed something...

It took a while for me to settle into the style of writing and flow of the book - a short while into the book, I did have doubts as to whether I'd end up forcing myself into finishing it, or skim-reading in order to do so. However, once this had been achieved it rolled along pretty well. Full marks to the author for using a very out-of-the-way, out-of-the-spotlight location, in Norfolk. Makes a real change from something being set in London or the like.

It is a dark and sometimes unpleasant read but it does have a clear sense of intrigue. Worth having a look at, but just be forewarned that it isn't pretty, but that it is fairly clever.
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8 of 9 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By MisterHobgoblin TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 24 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I knew Great Yarmouth in the early 1980s since my grandparents lived in Gorleston. So it was a surprise to find the Great Yarmouth I knew so well, preserved in aspic, as the centre stage for Weirdo. There was the city I knew with Marine Parade, the Pleasure Beach, the Harbour and the dunes; the model village and Bernie Winters or Jim Davidson appearing on the pier. There was the lodge my grandfather used to visit, the market and the hotels... But revisiting Great Yarmouth through Cathi Unsworth's narrative there is now access to a seamy side of the town - the pubs, the drugs and the prostitution - which were unknown to my youthful mind.

I should say that as I grew up, I started to find Great Yarmouth more and more unsettling. I came to see it as a rather squalid, deprived place with a thin veneer of holiday festivity which, for a few months a year, hid the daily struggle of people shopping in discount supermarkets and eating cheap chips and gravy. This comes through perfectly in Weirdo, with all the more poignancy as the locals vie with each other for respect and position in such a pokey, hokey town.

The actual story - a child murderess languishing in a secure hospital as her unknown accomplice walks free - is well told. Cathi Unsworth carefully controls the information available to the reader to keep the suspense, keep the reader guessing. And interleaving the contemporaneous events leading up to the murder with a private detective twenty years later trying to reheat the cold case works very well. Unlike so many twin narratives, this pair actually help one another in some kind of symbiosis. And both work to the same moment of reveal, one forwards and the other backwards.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ms Moomin on 7 Feb 2013
Format: Paperback
Cathi Unsworth has really got in to her stride with Weirdo, a fantastically well plotted psychological suspense novel, bordering on noir but not at all as dark as Cathi's previous books. Weirdo is set in two time periods: the early 80's and present day. Two investigations run parallel in the two narratives, and the reader only find out at the very end how it all ties in together and who the real victim and the real perpetrator is. I loved every page of this book, and was gobbled up by the tension: the creepy seaside town in winter, a small community trying to bury horrible secrets from the past, and the reader's niggling doubt - who can you trust, who's actually evil here?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Horsham VINE VOICE on 9 April 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I really enjoyed this book and found it a gripping read from start to finish. It is set in the present day with flashbacks to the eighties and makes for a nostalgic read, with the era described well. References to music and culture of the time are accurate.

The book is set in the apparently fictional Ernemouth but I think it is based on Great Yarmouth, it sounds almost identical. It explores corruption in power, a murder mystery, relationships and more.

There are a lot of characters in this book and sometimes I felt that a who's who guide would be useful. The book moves seamlessly between the two time periods but I found the eighties sections the most enjoyable.

The book has a satisfactory ending with a few twists and turns thrown in for your enjoyment. I will look out for more from this author.
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