Release Date: Oct 3, 2017
Imprint: William Morrow
Detective Inspector Jim Clemo has just returned to work in Bristol, England’s Criminal Investigations Department after a six-month leave of absence. He is partnered with Detective Constable Justin Woodley, who is also getting over a difficult case. The new case they’re assigned to at first appears to be straightforward. Fifteen-year-old Noah Sadler is found in a canal and is now in critical condition and his best friend, Abdi Mahad, who was found next to the canal, is in shock and also hospitalized. Both boys are unable to talk and the press is trying to put a racial spin on the events. Clemo doesn’t think this is a simple accident, but is getting pressure for a quick resolution to the case. However, as the investigation continues, Clemo and Woodley learn the boys aren’t the only ones with secrets.
The narrative switches between different points of few. Abdi and his family’s story is told in the third person, but Clemo’s investigation is told in the first person, as is Noah’s story, both in the present and his past memories. This technique can sometimes cause confusion, but it’s well done in this book and helps build the suspense of what really happened between Abdi and Noah. It tells us things about Noah we wouldn’t otherwise know, but also gives us a look at Abdi’s life with his parents and sister who became one of my favorite characters in the book because of her loyalty and determination.
This is the second of Macmillan’s books to feature DI Jim Clemo. Enough references are made to the case featured in the first book to give new readers such as myself important facts about Clemo’s backstory. I enjoyed the book and think it was really well done. Odd Child Out is suspenseful and thoughtful without relying on gimmicks to create the suspense. The plot is complex and the characters are flawed, but real. Parts of the book move a little slow, but most is very well-done. The friendship between Noah and Abdi creates a connection between two families with completely different backgrounds who wouldn’t cross paths under other circumstances. The problems of immigrants to the UK, specifically those from Somalia, are key to the novel and are treated in a respectful, interesting way. I was able to figure out some of the details of the two boys’ story before they were revealed, but there are plenty of surprises at the end of the book, which has a touching if not happy ending. I recommend Odd Child Out to readers who like a suspenseful mystery with depth and characters that stand out and stay with you well after you’ve finished the book.