Odd Child Out is the latest novel from Gilly MacMillan.
Detective Jim Clemo is coming back from a compulsory leave following his last case. His superior hands him what looks to be a simple 'welcome back' case - a seeming accident. Two young men at the canal in the night - one falls in and is rescued, but..... A witness heard arguing and the second boy won't speak or answer questions. The first boy's mother insists that there is more to this than an accident. And she throws out the 'race' card. Noah is white and Abdi is black - a refugee from Somalia. And yes, there's much more to the case than a simple accident.
Macmillan combines a mystery with some great character studies and takes a page from current events headlines.
I initially thought the detective in the book was female. When 'he' was finally used and I realized it was a male, I went back to the opening chapter to confirm that I'd not missed something. I hadn't. I had not read MacMillan's first book, What She Knew, so I didn't realized this was the second book to feature Jim Clemo. Having not read that book, I didn't fully appreciate the references to a past case and the fallout from it. Still, you don't need to have read What She Knew to enjoy Odd Child Out. But,I found I didn't really bond with Clemo. His past angst, regrets and mistakes didn't overly engage me. The characters that did were Abdi's family. Their desire for a better life, their difficulty assimilating, the prejudice they face, the violence and hate that is visited on them and what they've left behind - both good and bad. I thought MacMillan did a wonderful job depicting this through the Mahad family. Just as well depicted is Noah's family - they too have heartache in their lives. Their anger, fear, hope, grief and frustration are just as well written.
We slowly learn what happened that night on the canal through a then and now timeline. I enjoy this technique, but it does always have me reading 'just one more chapter past my bedtime. I thought I had sussed out what the final 'whodunit' might reveal. I was right but it certainly didn't detract from my enjoyment of the book. Lots of action in the last chapters had me wanting to take a sneak peek at how things resolved, but I didn't. I expect there will be a third book featuring Clemo as there were some unresolved threads.
The title is effective - both boys can be described as the odd child out in many ways. Read an excerpt of Odd Child Out.
"Gilly Macmillan is the Edgar Nominated and New York Times bestselling author of What She Knew. She grew up in Swindon, Wiltshire and lived in Northern California in her late teens. She worked at The Burlington Magazine and the Hayward Gallery before starting a family. Since then she’s worked as a part-time lecturer in photography, and now writes full-time. She resides in Bristol, England." Find out more about Gilly at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
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I received this book for review from HarperCollins and TLC Book Tours.