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on 19 March 2014
I read this book after finishing Freshers by Kevin Sampson, which is an excellent book if you enjoyed this one.

Outlaws is set in Liverpool, where a group of middle aged men are plotting the con to end all cons; their retirement job. They've worked together for years, each with a different agenda, and their differing agendas are snowballing into this book and the finale of their career.
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on 18 July 2013
Could not put this down and immediately bought the follow up. Superb penmanship by Sampson. Now going to read all of his books
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on 7 September 2014
Excellent as usual from sampson
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on 30 March 2014
One if the best fiction novels I have ever read. Mr Sampson captures the Liverpool dialect amazingly well on paper and it's a story that keeps you gripped to the final page. Another classic from an outstanding author
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on 20 February 2002
Sampson's first two novels ("Awaydays" and "Powder") were brilliant, savage, witty, and had a marvellous sense of time and place. He dropped the ball horribly with "Leisure", but I'm happy to say that he's returned to brilliance with "Outlaws".
Whereas "Awaydays" touched on the fringes of the world of organised crime, "Outlaws" is firmly located there. A bunch of ageing Liverpool hard men who for various reasons want to pull off that last job... this is almost "Reservoir Dogs" with tracksuits and expensive trainers in some respects.
Sampson's real gift is for language, and in "Outlaws" his protagonists all have distinctive voices, different ways of thinking. The inevitability of the climax is perhaps a little disappointing, but the way we get there is highly entertaining.
As a thriller with a high degree of social insight, this stands comparison with Jake Arnott; as a Merseyside tale, Sampson admits of no equals. A fine book.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 20 April 2003
Liverpool's underworld comes alive in this Mean Streets/Goodfellas style tale of three South Liverpool friends who've grown up to be "respected" gangsters. The catalyst in the story is a plan by their leader, Ged, to set up one more easy score before bowing out of the game after twenty years. Of course, when in all gangster fiction and film, has that last score gone according to plan? The history of the threesome and various supporting characters unfolds in their alternating first-person accounts of the weeks leading up to Christmastime heist. The real story, however, is about how Ged is trying to be a "good" honorable gangster, and how Ratter has big big plans that Ged knows nothing about. This theme of betrayal is one of the most elementary in storytelling, and Sampson offers no new or interesting variations on it. There's never any doubt as to how it's all going to play out, and the only surprise is how abrupt and rushed the ending is. The real treat for most readers is going to be the first-person language, which is thick with Liverpool slang—which may be heavy going for some. And even though the threesome each have characteristic little turns of phrase, their voices tended to run together in my head.
There's a heavy dose of nostalgia running through it all, as the "faces" realize that the times are changing. For Ged and Moby (the third main character, an amiable thug who more or less follows Ged's lead, when he isn't having sex with strippers or forking over cash to his shrill wife), notions of "respect" and "honor" are dying off, as kids are running around strapped and willing to shoot at the slightest provocation. For Ratter, the past is an ugly place, and he's all to glad to be wheeling and dealing in properties and health clubs with greedy crooked politicians in the new era of crime. The book is really about the collision between these two belief systems, and while it's relatively engaging to watch it all play out, it's probably best enjoyed by those who have a strong Liverpool connection. A much better book about the one last heist is JJ Connolly's Layer Cake.
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on 11 August 2002
Initially a little harder to get into, the slang a little tough to get around on occasions although nothing like trainspotting. And the story being told by the characters as it progresses is a little tough until the characters and their relationships is established.
Once the book gets going though it is true to form with Sampsons excellent characterisation, never painting characters black or white just describing things through their eyes, in this respect Ratter is bad put his double dealing twisted tales propel the story along with the most force.
The story build nicely towards the ending and its not at all obvious how things are going to transpire, as paranoia, double crossing and lots of drugs can lead to things taking unexpected turns.
The ending after being built for so long, was all over and done too quickly, would have liked a little more resolution at the end.
Prefered Awaydays and Leisure but still a boss novel.
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on 14 March 2002
Another book from Sampson and the usual failings. No likeable characters in the book at all. I presume that we were meant to warm to "Ged" as he had "honour", but he came across as just another run-of-the-mill no-mark.
As with "Powder", he seems incapable of following through a story to its conclusion and it almost appears as if he was bored with it by the end.
And, as for the depictions and characterisations of women in his books, dear Lord.............
There's been a plethora of British gangster films and books in recent years. This dresses it up in a Scouse accent, but there's nothing new to see here.
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on 28 June 2002
This is a truly stunning book. If you're a fan of hard boiled lo-life fiction then this is one you must not miss. Sampson is the Scally Scorsese and this is his Mean Streets. OUTLAWS is an utterly compelling tale of three South Liverpool hardmen who've been left behind by the new wave of sophisticated drug crime. They're old-skool stick up men with all the archaic morality that comes with it. When they run into lumber with a slick new firm over an incident in a lap-dance bar, all hell lets loose. And does it! The action is tautly scripted, the plotting masterfully handled. OUTLAWS would make a wonderful film and, from me (a gangsta film snob) there can be no higher compliment. This is definitely my book of the year so far.
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on 4 September 2005
Encountered this book after reading 'Awaydays,' by the way, and its a great read to be fair. know where I'm going. No two ways about it this book is pure brilliant.That is a fact. The way it evokes working class life in Liverpool by the way, the crime, it's characters, their verbal tics makes it seem real rather than mere caricature in fairness, knowmean. Others in line with the blurb on the book have described it as Goodfellas on the Mersey, Scorcese with a scouse ascent, know where I'm going, and while I can see what they're saying in fairness, its more Roddy Doyle with a scouse ascent and violent tendencies, and thats the God's honest truth. That is a fact. End of.
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