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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its grey, gloomy and grim perspective is cleverly portrayed...
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...
Published 22 months ago by Roroblu's Mum

versus
2.0 out of 5 stars One for the East Anglian Goth detective noir fan - only
A private investigator is hired to look into a grisly murder from 20 years past and finds himself up against a closed community reluctant to let their dirty laundry be aired.

So far, so formulaic. This time the locale is an uncanny replica of Blackpool transported to the East Anglian coast (and the "reported accent" sounds a bit forced). The story has twin...
Published 19 months ago by Marand


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Its grey, gloomy and grim perspective is cleverly portrayed..., 16 Jan 2013
By 
Roroblu's Mum "ROROBLU'S MUM" (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Weirdo (Paperback)
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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
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding British crime writing - don't miss this!, 23 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Weirdo (Kindle Edition)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars This in't your town, boy!, 24 Oct 2012
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MisterHobgoblin (Melbourne) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Weirdo (Paperback)
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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.

For all the taut storylines - occasionally rather complicated but resolving nicely - it is the characters that stand out. Len Rivett, the (semi)retired police chief who ran the town from the masonic lodge; Dale Smollett, the local lad following in Rivett's footsteps, the mysterious Noj and a pub full of pondlife. And going back into the 1980s narrative, the catty jockeying for position between the girls, their dreadful families (especially mothers) and, again, the mysterious Noj. And it all comes with a witchy subtext, goth music and shoulderpads. There is also a liberal use of Norfolk dialect in the dialogue. This is nailed perfectly.

Weirdo is a really accomplished novel. It's crime but it is so much more. It's a dissection of a holiday town that has a grim and deprived underbelly. It's also a brilliant evocation of one of the true grimness of life outside London in the 1980s. It feels real.

So please read Weirdo - probably the least flattering depiction of Norfolk since Henry Sutton's fabulous Gorleston.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Atmospheric psychological suspense, 7 Feb 2013
This review is from: Weirdo (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
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and nostalgic, 9 April 2013
By 
G. Horsham (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Weirdo (Paperback)
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Exceptionally disturbing but still deserving of 4 stars, 7 April 2013
This review is from: Weirdo (Kindle Edition)
Exceptionally disturbing. This is the first book I have read by this author and I am not sure if I will read another because of the way this story makes for uncomfortable reading for most of the book. Although I do enjoy reading crime novels this one made me feel anxious about what was going to happen next. I have, however, given the author 4 stars because I thought the book was well written and all the story threads tied up neatly by the end of the book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Weirdo, 1 Mar 2013
By 
Nikki - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Weirdo (Paperback)
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Connie Woodrow has spent the last 20 years in a mental institution after being convicted of murdering a classmate at the age of 15. When new DNA evidence suggests that there was another person present at the murder scene, Private Investigator Sean Ward is sent to re-examine the case. The book follows two timelines in alternate chapters, 1983 when the murder occurred and 2003 when the case is reopened.

For me the book got off to a slow start and I wasn't sure if it would hold my interest but after the first quarter or so, the pace picked up and I became increasingly engrossed to the point where I just couldn't put it down. I did find the numerous characters a little confusing and thought the written Norfolk dialect didn't really work but apart from that I thorougly enjoyed the book.

Overall this is a very good and cleverly written thriller, its dark and disturbing but a very gripping, unusual and exciting read - recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant but bleak, 26 Dec 2012
By 
Sid Nuncius (London) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Weirdo (Paperback)
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dark and Disturbing, 29 Nov 2012
By 
D. Elliott (Ulverston, Cumbria) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Weirdo (Paperback)
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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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Weirdo, 29 July 2012
By 
S Riaz "S Riaz" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Weirdo (Paperback)
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Sean Ward was a detective in the Metropolitan police, when he was gunned down during an operation and forced to leave the job he loved. Now he is a PI, specialising in cold cases and has been sent to provide evidence for an appeal against an indefinite sentence. In 1984, when she was just fifteen, Corinne Woodrow was found guilty of murder; but now, thirty years on, new forensic evidence suggests that there was a phantom accomplice, whose DNA needs to be matched up to a name.

This excellent and atmospheric crime novel alternates between Sean's current investigation and the unfolding events when Corinne was fifteen. Sean is an intelligent and thoughtful hero, whose battles include the pain he still suffers from his injuries. However, this case begins to reawaken something he thought he had lost - his love for his job. Teaming up with Francesca Ryman, the editor of a provincial newspaper who also rediscovers her journalistic ambiton, the two try to discover what happened all those years ago in a seaside town, whose tourist amusements hide the reality beneath the veneer.

This is a fast moving and excellent novel, dark and often bleak, but with characters you care about. As the author swiftly builds the tension, you will find that you are unable to tear yourself away from this book until you get to the end. This is the best of British crime fiction, with a truly dangerous undercurrent and a gripping storyline. Highly recommended.
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Weirdo
Weirdo by Cathi Unsworth (Paperback - 13 Jun 2013)
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