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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vengeance is sweet...
MI5 agent Winnie Monks is big on loyalty and as leader of 'The Graveyard Team' she vowed to avenge the death of youngest member Damien Fenby, brutally murdered in Budapest. Years later a embittered young Russian walks into the British Embassy in Baku and puts a name to her target. She gathers together the former members of her team and using her contacts heads up an...
Published on 9 Jun 2012 by Big Bertha

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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Costa Living - and Dying
Anyone who likes a surprise or two might be advised to avoid Michael Watson's review here; not so much an indication of the book's setting and broad general theme, more like a precis of the plot. So I must be careful to restrict myself to saying that the Outsiders are former or current Intelligence personnel who carry out a semi-freelance operation to avenge the murder...
Published on 31 May 2012 by G. M. Sinstadt


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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Costa Living - and Dying, 31 May 2012
By 
G. M. Sinstadt - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Outsiders (Hardcover)
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Anyone who likes a surprise or two might be advised to avoid Michael Watson's review here; not so much an indication of the book's setting and broad general theme, more like a precis of the plot. So I must be careful to restrict myself to saying that the Outsiders are former or current Intelligence personnel who carry out a semi-freelance operation to avenge the murder of a colleague. It is not giving too much away to reveal that there is Russian mafia-style involvement. Previous Seymour readers will expect to find various exotic locations together with presumably authentic acronyms for police and intelligence bodies, and assuredly reliable details of firearms; they will not be disappointed.

The main locale is Malaga. The author's journalistic instincts rarely let him down and here he is bang up to date at the scene of the building scandals that currently threaten the Spanish economy. The ratchetting of tension works, too. Gerald Seymour fans should buy with confidence.

Yet for the uncommitted there have to be caveats. Winnie Monk, a central figure, is not easily credible, not helped by having only two character props - smoking cigarillos and using the f-word - which crop up with almost her every appearance. Stylistically, I am not alone in finding the jumpy chronology at times confusing. The mannerism of beginning a new section with a pronoun that leaves the reader guessing for a paragraph or two is simply irritating. And there is the over-emphasis on Seymour's theme that organised crime is a bigger threat than terrorism: after the second appearance by 'the Latvian policeman' his contributions can be skipped with no effect whatsoever on the narrative.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vengeance is sweet..., 9 Jun 2012
By 
Big Bertha (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outsiders (Hardcover)
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MI5 agent Winnie Monks is big on loyalty and as leader of 'The Graveyard Team' she vowed to avenge the death of youngest member Damien Fenby, brutally murdered in Budapest. Years later a embittered young Russian walks into the British Embassy in Baku and puts a name to her target. She gathers together the former members of her team and using her contacts heads up an operation to make that goal a reality.

Jonno and girlfriend Posie are offered the opportunity to house-sit a property on the outskirts of Marbella and jump at the chance of a couple of weeks in the sun at Villa Paraiso. Their dreams of an idyllic break don't last long however, the property is run down, the location not what they thought and unexpected guests turn up to carry out an MI5 undercover surveillance operation on the property next door.

With a tightly knit and cleverly executed plot this thriller took me into the heart of the Costa del Crime. The cast of characters was confusing at first but the strength of this novel was in the detail. The location was superbly described and the expat community of Marbella and their disillusionment with the Spanish dream, the influx of Eastern Europeans and criminals who had made this area their home was well depicted.

A good read, an intelligent plot with the tension building to a satisfying conclusion.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A sophisticated, subtle and satisfying thriller, 11 Oct 2012
By 
R. Brewer (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outsiders (Hardcover)
This is a well written contemporary thriller which achieves that rare distinction of combining a tense and eventful narrative with engaging and largely credible characters. I think it deserves to become a classic, but I think few will disagree at the very least it's an excellent read.

The story concerns how Winnie Monks - a middle-ranking M15 officer - plots to take revenge on the Russian ex-soldier turned fixer and criminal, who some years previously had brutally killed an M15 field agent. The agent had not only been on Winnie's team but had been lodging with her, so it's all very personal. The Russian travels in secret, his communications protected by a young computer geek, but when the geek is wrongly accused of theft by his boss, he responds by revealing the Russian's plans to hold an important business meeting in a villa near Marbella.

Much of the novel follows how Winnie arranges to have the villa put under surveillance and what happens when the surveillance team unintentionally meet up with a young English couple who have been asked to caretake what Winnie had thought would be an empty house next to the villa in question. The couple become central to the story. At the same time we follow the Russian as he makes his way to Spain via West Africa and Morocco, and get to understand his back-story and that of his accomplices / bodyguards.

The Spanish background is right up-to-date, with the property boom at an end, the British ex-pat community struggling to survive, and corruption endemic. The picture Seymour paints of the extensive high- and low-level criminality is frightening, and whether true or not, it forms a horribly credible backdrop to the story.

Seymour is known for his downbeat endings, but I found the ending to Outsiders to be somewhat more upbeat and overall genuinely satisfying. He avoids the obvious cliché's of the genre, but still leaves us with an exciting denouement, with lives tempered and forever changed by the dreadful events that take place.

My one reservation concerns the character of Winnie herself. I simply couldn't picture her, and it seemed to me that the author might have started of with a somewhat different character in mind to what he ended up with. However, this is a minor issue in what is surely a must for all lovers of the thriller genre.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Never really gripped me, 4 Dec 2012
By 
Marand (Warwickshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outsiders (Hardcover)
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This story is set in the murky world of MI5/MI6 and a covert assignment to capture a Russian criminal overlord as he visits another semi-retired big man from the Russian mafia in Spain. The MI5 team lead by "maverick" section chief Winnie Monks are looking to avenge the death several years earlier of a young operative at the hands of the overlord and his henchmen.

A surveillance operation is planned using a small house overlooking the semi-retired Russian's property, but the unexpected intrusion of a young British couple (Jonno and Posie) who have agreed to look after this house for its absent owners raises complications. Tensions arise as the couple find they have unexpected house guests and Jonno becomes surprisingly (for him) aggressive to the surveillance team and the risk he thinks they create for the old couple who own the home.

Ultimately, the story focuses on the effect on Jonno and Posie of the events they go through (including witnessing some very graphically described executions by the semi-retired Russian's goons) but this is where the weaknesses creep in. Jonno in particular is a priggish character who is difficult to like, and his extended agonising over issues just seems to drag over pages and pages. Some of the stronger characters such as Monks, who is built up hugely in the first half of the book (with repeated statements that her team would do anything for her), just fade out of the picture later on.

The author seems determined to convince you of the accuracy and depth of his research, and the descriptions of life in the security services sound quite authentic, but he goes over the top. Not content with telling you that one of the supporting characters obtains a handgun, he then goes on to recite the make and model and the particular location in Tel Aviv of the factory that produced it. On another occasion, Jonno and Posie are at a nightclub and it is deemed necessary to tell you precisely which tracks by Lady Gaga and Madonna they danced to: none of this advances the story and really starts to jar after a while.

There is a somewhat clunky feature involving a Latvian policeman on detachment to Europol who is dropped into the story at intervals. His only role is to provide little 'lectures' providing context and background information for the developing story, essentially a series of glorified footnotes. On the first couple of occasions you think this might be a sign of an expanding storyline but it then becomes clear that it is just a repetitive narrative device.

The pace of the story is too slow. With all the focus on the "journey" of the central players, there are too many long passages (whole chapters) where nothing really happens. On several occasions, I put the book aside and wasn't interested enough to pick it up for several days (including at a dozen or so pages from the end).

The blurb on my copy talks of the author's empathy for "those the author ensnares in his moral minefields" , but when those characters are so lacklustre the peripheral action and plotting cannot fill the gap. A disappointment.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding thriller with real-world relevance, 27 Jun 2012
By 
Keris Nine - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outsiders (Hardcover)
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There's a familiar story of revenge and payback at the heart of The Outsiders, of shadowy agencies setting their own agendas and dealing out their own sense of justice. In his latest novel, Seymour turns his attention to Marbella's Costa del Crime, which is the setting for a planned hit/arrest of one crime lord by MI5 operatives looking to avenge a murdered colleague. In the movies this would be an excuse for jingoistic declarations, fake glamour and exciting high-speed action sequences, but we know better than to expect anything like that from Gerald Seymour, currently the finest writer in this international spy thriller genre by far. Seymour's vision of this modern criminal undercover underworld is a far more nuanced one - authoritative, well-researched, meticulously structured and laid out in writing that still packs a punch.

The subject might seem like small-fry in comparison to recent Seymour novels dealing with the legacy of the war in Bosnia and current operations in Afghanistan, but it's the author's proposition - made repeatedly, but convincingly - that international East European and Russian crime syndicates present a much more serious threat to the world, and have a much higher rate of victims than international terrorism. Being tough on international crime however is not the same kind of vote winner as waging war on terrorism, and it's far more difficult to put into simplistic black-and-white terms. As usual, the strength of Seymour's writing here is in how he is aware of the bigger picture, establishing a comprehensive overview of international crime in the age of high-speed internet and satellite communications, to say nothing of the murky and ambiguous nature of questions of legality, protocol, authorisation and international cooperation that have to be navigated by anyone brave or foolish enough to attempt to tackle it.

Although many clearly find such detail boring and irrelevant, it's much more preferable to see this subject handled with fine writing that doesn't insult the intelligence of the reader. Being technically comprehensive in relation to the bigger picture in Seymour's case doesn't mean neglecting the finer detail of character development or abandoning the requirements for it to be an edge-of-the-seat thriller. Typically, there's a wide-ranging cast of characters from all kinds of backgrounds with conflicting personalities, ambitions and hang-ups, and the author weaves them together masterfully to create exciting tensions. Plausible? Maybe not, but in essence the themes and the purpose of flawed individuals working within a flawed system and the resultant ethical problems this gives rise to are no less valid. Yes, the Outsiders is another slow-burner from Seymour, but ultimately, the attention to detail in situation as well as character only adds to the sense of engagement with an increasingly explosive situation that is all the more relevant for actually having real-world purpose.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The worst yet, 23 Jun 2013
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I've read Gerald Seymour over the years and loved his books. Real ripping yarns. This one is awful - long winded, meandering, far too much detail, lacking any kind of pace. Had a job finishing it which is a first for me.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars I'd rather a Spanish Siesta, 17 Dec 2012
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I have enjoyed nearly all of Seymour's stories as they typically have great character development, an unlikely, but likeable hero, and a clever plot. Unfortunately this novel fails on nearly all these counts. I expected a lot from an expose of the Costa del Sol and a story of revenge amidst a stakeout from a holiday home sit. Other than Johno, the characters were weak and the plot dragged on as I read further with anticipation of a climatic event. The story ended and I am left writing a review for a mediocre read.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 7 Jun 2012
By 
Dave (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Outsiders (Hardcover)
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I was really looking forward to this book as I thought the previous novel by Gerald Seymour, A Deniable Death, was excellent.

This is a story about "Mad" Winne Monks, an MI5 officer, who is desperate to avenge the death of a young British agent - who she was in charge of. Unfortunately her team has long since been disbanded and her need for vengeance means putting the team back together and the use of fair and foul means to achieve that vengeance.

However I felt that the style of writing in this book made it somewhat hard to follow. Also there were numerous instances of using a pronoun rather than the person's name and sometimes I did not realise who was being written about.

While the characters may have been believable in themselves the roles that some of them took on as the book developed was not believable and I think the ending was nearly farcical.

I will certainly try the next book by Mr Seymour as I do think he is one of the best writers around today but, I regret, not for me in this case.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars gripping stuff, 18 May 2013
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Typically tense Gerald Seymour book. I really enjoyed it. His outcomes can never be predicted but are always feasible. Brilliant.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ANOTHER GREAT BOOK, 3 Mar 2013
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I haven't finished reading this yet but up to know I am sure it's one of his best. Can't put it down. recommend it to any serious reader.
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The Outsiders
The Outsiders by Gerald Seymour (Paperback - 25 April 2013)
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