Odd Child Out by Gilly Macmillan

Odd Child Out

 How well do you know the people you love…?Best friends Noah Sandler and Abdi Mahad have always been inseparable.  But when Noah is found floating unconscious in Bristol's Feeder Canal, Abdi can't--or won't--tell anyone what happened.Just back from a mandatory leave following his last case, Detective Jim Clemo is now assigned to look into this unfortunate accident.  But tr...

Title:Odd Child Out
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Edition Language:English

Odd Child Out Reviews

  • Kristy

    The second book in

    's excellent DI Jim Clemo series finds Jim back in similar circumstances from the first--working against time to save a child. Jim has returned from leave after the Ben Finch case, and he's ready to redeem himself in the eyes DCI Fraser and his peers. He's assigned what looks to be a terrible accident: best pals Noah Sadler and Abdi Mahad are out late one evening when teenage Noah falls into a local canal, rendering him unconscious. Abdi refuses to speak about w

    The second book in

    's excellent DI Jim Clemo series finds Jim back in similar circumstances from the first--working against time to save a child. Jim has returned from leave after the Ben Finch case, and he's ready to redeem himself in the eyes DCI Fraser and his peers. He's assigned what looks to be a terrible accident: best pals Noah Sadler and Abdi Mahad are out late one evening when teenage Noah falls into a local canal, rendering him unconscious. Abdi refuses to speak about what happened, leaving the families (and police) to ponder what really occurred that evening. Complicating matters is the fact that Noah is already ill from cancer; plus Noah is British, while Abdi and his family are Somalian refugees, so Jim fears how this case will be presented in the press. By most accounts, Noah and Abdi are best friends, so what truly went down night?

    , who offers yet one more beautifully-written mystery combined with lovely, perfectly drawn characters. This book touched me in so many ways, and

    . Again, this is no straightforward mystery, or simple fiction, but a wonderful combination of the two.

    For me, this book really hit from home the beginning, as Jim mentions how an anti-immigration march by a neo-Nazi group has rocked Bristol, wrecking havoc on the police force, as well as emotions in the area. It's clear that racial tensions are high. As someone who was born in Charlottesville, VA, and lived in the suburbs of the area for the last nearly ten years, I felt this in my heart all too well. The backdrop of race stretches across the fabric of Macmillan's entire novel, and it's quite well done, in my opinion.

    On one end, we have the Sadler family--well-off and British: Noah attends a posh private school, Fiona manages Noah and Noah's illness, and Ed is a photographer--often of refugees. In fact, we learn that he's even photographed the very camp where Abdi's parents and sister lived. The Sadler's life, however, is clouded by the tragedy of Noah's cancer, which has basically formed each family member into who they are today.

    As for the Mahads, we see how their past experiences has created them, as well.

    The bits and pieces you learn of the Mahad's origins--my goodness: it will break your heart. Macmillan captures the fear of the family because they are different due to the color of their skin and the country of their origin, yet you see their strength and pride shine across as well.

    The main storyline of ODD CHILD OUT revolves around figuring out exactly what happened between the boys and how Noah ended up in the water. As mentioned, you get snippets from each character, as we slowly work up to that point of no return. We also get flashbacks to various pieces of earlier parts of their lives, and we start to realize that something has spooked the Mahad family--something is not as it seems.

    At its core, this is a heartbreaking book whose strength lies in its characters. It's a wonderful exploration on race and immigration and how difficult it is to be deemed "different" by our society. What I loved about this book, though, is that you could also wonder: is either family truly all that different at its core? Every parent will go to any length to protect their child, after all. I highly recommend picking this one up. It can be read as a stand-alone, but if you want more insight into Jim and his mindset, you should definitely read the first book,

    , which is also excellent (my review

    ). I can't wait to see what Macmillan comes up with next! 4+ stars.

    In a perfect swirl of ARC goodness, I received a copy of this novel from both Librarything and Edelweiss. A huge thanks to them and the publisher for a copy in return for an unbiased review. The book is available for purchase everywhere.

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  • Diane S ☔

    3.5 Compelling, but don't go into this book expecting a suspenseful read, I found this book to be much more and less than that. Two young teen boys, friends because of their difference, one white, Noah, struggling with cancer and the long effects of hospitalizations, the other Somali, Abdi, here with his family after his family spent years in a camp. They bond because they are basically two outcasts. Become best friends, do everything together until one day one boy almost drowned and the other c

    3.5 Compelling, but don't go into this book expecting a suspenseful read, I found this book to be much more and less than that. Two young teen boys, friends because of their difference, one white, Noah, struggling with cancer and the long effects of hospitalizations, the other Somali, Abdi, here with his family after his family spent years in a camp. They bond because they are basically two outcasts. Become best friends, do everything together until one day one boy almost drowned and the other cannot or will not say what happened. DI Chemo, first day back after being released from mandatory leave, is given the case. Seems simple on the surface, turns to something much bigger.

    The press, and what lengths they will go to in order to get a story, embellish, prey on those suffering from intense grief. Racial bias, and how people will believe anything they read if it reinforces their own opinions. A family suffering the most intense grief and how this grief leads them to behave. Secrets from a camp, where terrifying people prey on those they can. A young boy in search of answers and a sister who will do anything to help. Many issues here, but done well, a slow unraveling of the many layers within. What really happened at that canal? That is the heart of the story for many, but a bigger issue faces Abdi.

    I enjoy this authors books, not straight out mysteries but her books seem to have more depth than many. Her characters are multifaceted, taking on real issues and revealing emotional contours without sappy writing. Families are families, regardless of skin color or nationality, and most want the same things for their children. To protect them and see them happy.

    ARC from Edelweiss.

  • Julie

    Odd Child Out by Gilly McMillian is a 2017 William Morrow publication.

    Deeply absorbing literary suspense.

    Inspector Jim Clemo is back at work, after having completed his requisite counseling. His first assignment, on the surface, is a low priority case, a probable accident.

    However, the circumstances are murky and the incident did leave a terminally ill boy in a coma and another boy so traumatized he can’t – or won’t- speak.

    The question Clemo and his partner much determine is if foul play was i

    Odd Child Out by Gilly McMillian is a 2017 William Morrow publication.

    Deeply absorbing literary suspense.

    Inspector Jim Clemo is back at work, after having completed his requisite counseling. His first assignment, on the surface, is a low priority case, a probable accident.

    However, the circumstances are murky and the incident did leave a terminally ill boy in a coma and another boy so traumatized he can’t – or won’t- speak.

    The question Clemo and his partner much determine is if foul play was involved, or if it was a horrible accident. But, the situation is much more complicated than anyone would have imagined.

    Noah, a teenager dying of terminal cancer, lies in a hospital bed, comatose, but the reader is privy to his thoughts, as he narrates the events of that fateful night.

    Meanwhile, Noah’s best friend, Abdi, a Somalian refugee, hasn’t uttered a word since that night, but there may be more troubling him than his friend’s condition. Still, suspicion hangs over him, which complicates matters even more, especially when Jim’s former lover, a woman who has taken a job as a journalist decides to fan the flames of social tension surrounding Somalian refugees.

    This author has a unique writing style, employing both first and third person narratives. Noah and Jim speak to us directly, while the other characters converse in third person. Switching narratives may be met with skepticism, but in my opinion, it complimented the flow of the story and truly made sense, in this case.

    This story is a traditional police procedural, but it is also augmented with the deeply absorbing and heartbreaking backstory of both sets of parents. As such, the book could also easily pass as a work of contemporary fiction.

    The story does not unfold in the same way many other mysteries do, with a slow pace, and much more emphasis on character and deliberately shakes out strong emotions.

    Abdi’s family endured extreme cruelty in their lives, and carry deeply embeded scars, while Noah’s family has dealt with his cancer diagnosis for nearly half of his life and now must face his eminent death.

    The author also delves into Jim’s personal life, adding yet another thought provoking element to the story, and once again touching upon key social issues.

    While the suspense builds at an unorthodox pace, once it reached its pinnacle, I was utterly still, holding my breath, completely riveted as unexpected events began to unfold.

    The characters are unique, conflicted, flawed, and completely human, some of them more likeable than others, but all very well drawn. The story is very well crafted, written in such splendid prose, with incredibly profound elements that made me think about all the many layers of humanity and the very strong bonds of family and friendship.

    The ending is very stirring and I admit I may have swallowed down a lump in my throat, which is not something that happens much when I'm reading a dark and moody procedural.

    This story goes much deeper than the usual mystery novel, dealing with very grim topics, but has so much added depth and emotion, that I could easily recommend it to anyone who enjoys good fiction.

    4.5 stars

  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews

    Best friends sometimes do unexpected things. Abdi and Noah were best friends and did something that no one would expect.

    The unexpected incident obviously brought the police in along with the two silent friends. Noah was put into a coma because of his injuries, and Abdi wasn't talking.

    ODD CHILD OUT was definitely a study of personalities and human emotions. Each character seemed to not fit with each other, and I thought it was odd that they were family members as well as friends. I did like the "

    Best friends sometimes do unexpected things. Abdi and Noah were best friends and did something that no one would expect.

    The unexpected incident obviously brought the police in along with the two silent friends. Noah was put into a coma because of his injuries, and Abdi wasn't talking.

    ODD CHILD OUT was definitely a study of personalities and human emotions. Each character seemed to not fit with each other, and I thought it was odd that they were family members as well as friends. I did like the "bucket list" that Noah and his father compiled, but one part of the bucket list is what caused a problem the night of the incident.

    ODD CHILD OUT has us following along with the police in their investigation after Noah is found in the canal and an eye witness says she saw the best friends arguing. When Noah who is terminally ill with cancer is found floating in the canal and Abdi, his best friend, had been with him, no one knows what to think. It is difficult to imagine these boys doing anything out of the ordinary because they were star pupils.

    We also follow the story being told by Abdi and Noah about what really happened as the friends silently re-live it in their minds.

    The descriptions and the character development are very good and help you visualize the scenes and totally experience the emotions of each character which were mostly fear, loss, and questioning. You also feel the weight of lies and silence, truths untold, and prejudices.

    ODD CHILD OUT is an emotional, tense book that will make you think and question.

    Another excellent read by Gilly MacMillan. 4/5

    This book was given to me free of charge and without compensation by the publisher in return for an honest review.

  • Fictionophile

    Noah Sadler and Abdi Mahad are best friends. They are both fifteen years old, very clever, and if truth be told, more than a bit 'nerdy'. They couldn't be more different, but that doesn't matter to them. Ostracized by many of their peers, their relationship is strong and as complex as the chess moves they play. Noah Sadler has terminal cancer and comes from a privileged white family. Abdi is a black Muslim Somalian refugee. They both attend a prestigious school, Noah because his parents pay the

    Noah Sadler and Abdi Mahad are best friends. They are both fifteen years old, very clever, and if truth be told, more than a bit 'nerdy'. They couldn't be more different, but that doesn't matter to them. Ostracized by many of their peers, their relationship is strong and as complex as the chess moves they play. Noah Sadler has terminal cancer and comes from a privileged white family. Abdi is a black Muslim Somalian refugee. They both attend a prestigious school, Noah because his parents pay the hefty fee, Abdi because he is on a full scholarship.

    We meet the boys as they walk the streets of Bristol one cold, foggy night in March. They have snuck out, and are on an adventure.  However, the reader is not privy to the secrets that each boy carries this particular night. The adventure ends badly and Noah is fished out of the river unconscious. Abdi's silence about the events leading to Noah's accident causes others to suspect him of foul play - as he was the much taller and stronger of the two.

    Noah Sadler's parents Ed and Fiona are reeling from the latest news from Noah's oncologist. It seems that his remission is over and the cancer is back - their son only has months to live. Now, those months are in question as their son lies comatose in a hospital bed.

    Detective Inspector Jim Clemo has been seeing the police psychologist Dr. Manelli for months now. Ever since the Ben Finch case (Macmillan's last novel "What she saw") he has been on a mandatory leave from the police. Now Dr. Manilli has agreed that he can return to work at Bristol's Kenneth Steele House. His first case upon returning to duty is to investigate Noah Sadler's case.

    He is paired with another officer who has a troubled history on the force, Detective Sergeant Woodley. They try to discern the sequence of events that led up to Noah's immersion in the cold river. Noah, now comatose in hospital, cannot tell them. Abdi, traumatized into silence, cannot tell them.  They fear that with the city's recent racial rioting, that Abdi will be unfairly accused... There is a witness, but her testimony is suspect.

    Jim Clemo's ex, Emma Zhang, is now a ruthless journalist. Once a police officer, she is bitter about her expulsion from the police force and now wants to make a name for herself. Despite, or perhaps because of, Clemo's warnings, she warps the truth to make the story sensational. In doing so, she jeopardizes the case, as well as Abdi's reputation and well-being.

    Brilliantly written, this novel is told from many different points of view. Not the least of which is the heart-rending story of Noah Sadler. Fifteen and terminally ill, he reflects on how he will never have razor stubble, how he has never seen a restricted film, never know the taste of beer... He longs to be 'normal'. But even though we sympathize with Noah, we learn that he was not perfect...

    Abdi's parents, Nur and Maryam Mahad have been in Bristol for fifteen years. Nur, a taxi-driver, believes in hope and new beginnings. He believes in the goodness of his fellow man. Maryam's hope is lost. She lives in fear. Her memories of living in a Somalian refugee camp haunt her days and nights. She suffers from depression and has had a hard time bonding with her son, Abdi.

    Abdi's sister, Sofia, loves her brother Abdi unconditionally. Because of her mother's inability to bond with him as a baby, Sofia stepped in - and now she loves him like a son. She works hard, studies hard, and feels loved by her family. She remembers what true hardship felt like. How when the camp flooded, they couldn't lie down at night...

    This is a memorable and well-rendered police procedural. A story which expounds on the Somalian diaspora and immigrant's place in a society that is not always welcoming. It touches on the nature vs. nurture debate.

    "Odd child out" is a strong sequel to Gilly MacMillan's "What she knew". I do wonder how D.I. Clemo can continue on in future novels because his empathy for people will ultimately be the end of him. His inability to maintain prospective/distance from his work makes him a prime candidate for burnout.  Not so Gilly MacMillan.  She is going strong and I intend to follow her along the way. Highly recommended!

    I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from William Morrow/HarperCollins via Edelweiss and was only too happy to write this review as my stop on the

     TLC Book Tour for this title.

  • DJ Sakata

    Favorite Quotes:

    I felt like a mongrel dog, compared to them. Unwanted, strange-looking, and kicked so many times I didn’t know how to do anything apart from cower.

    Noah’s Bucket List Item No. 12: Be cremated. I can’t stand the thought of being buried. I want to be turned into smoke and air so I can be everywhere all at once.

    My Review:

    Odd Child Out was my first experience with both the complex and guarded DI Jim Clemo and his talented creator Gilly Macmillan, I want to make a habit of this pair. B

    Favorite Quotes:

    I felt like a mongrel dog, compared to them. Unwanted, strange-looking, and kicked so many times I didn’t know how to do anything apart from cower.

    Noah’s Bucket List Item No. 12: Be cremated. I can’t stand the thought of being buried. I want to be turned into smoke and air so I can be everywhere all at once.

    My Review:

    Odd Child Out was my first experience with both the complex and guarded DI Jim Clemo and his talented creator Gilly Macmillan, I want to make a habit of this pair. Besides being topical and relevant, the storyline was well-crafted and of the stealthy variety as it developed slowly yet steadily in intriguing increments that I eagerly gathered like breadcrumbs. There was a wide array of intriguing and mysterious characters as well as a vast assortment of oddly shaped puzzle pieces to make sense of, yet and none of them seemed to match up. The characters were slowly fleshed out with several being ultimately revealed to be less than admirable than I had first assumed, as well as the opposite. My interest was snagged quickly and my attention never flagged as I unwound this delicately complicated plot that occurred over the period of a week, yet went several layers deep and across fifteen years and a different continent to expose a fiercely guarded and devastating secret.

  • Brenda

    Detective Jim Clemo’s last visit with the counsellor after six months enforced leave left him keen to get back to work. He knew things might be a bit awkward with his fellow officers, but he was prepared for that. When he walked into the office the following day, he was immediately thrust into a case which involved two fifteen-year-old boys – best friends. Noah Sandler and Abdi Mahad had been friends for a long time; Abdi arrived in England as a baby when his parents and elder sister Sofia escap

    Detective Jim Clemo’s last visit with the counsellor after six months enforced leave left him keen to get back to work. He knew things might be a bit awkward with his fellow officers, but he was prepared for that. When he walked into the office the following day, he was immediately thrust into a case which involved two fifteen-year-old boys – best friends. Noah Sandler and Abdi Mahad had been friends for a long time; Abdi arrived in England as a baby when his parents and elder sister Sofia escaped from Somalia. Noah and Abdi met and became friends at school.

    The situation which Clemo and his partner Woodley were investigating was a strange one – it seemed an easy case to solve. Two boys; one falling into the Feeder Canal and one watching on. But when Noah was placed into an induced coma in the hospital, and Abdi was unable to talk – to tell anyone what happened – the case became fraught with tension. With the media involved, and incorrect reporting on the face of it, Clemo felt at his wits end. What would happen to the case? It obviously was not as it seemed; secrets and lies were rising to the surface. Would he need to go with his gut instincts again?

    is the second in the Jim Clemo series by Gilly Macmillan and is an intense, gritty and fascinating psychological thriller which I thoroughly enjoyed. Fast paced, the tension kept me riveted to the pages. Jim Clemo is an excellent character; flawed but not irredeemably so. Another great thriller by this author,

    is one I have no hesitation in recommending highly.

    With thanks to Hachette Australia for my ARC to read and review.

  • Ann Marie (Lit·Wit·Wine·Dine)

    Enter the

    and check out all of my reviews at

    . Giveaway ends 10/31/17 11:59pm EST.

    This is another book that first caught my attention at Book Expo 2017. Though I hadn’t read

    , the first DI Jim Clemo book, I had absolutely no problem at all reading this book as a stand-alone.

    drew me in straightaway. It is a very steady page-turner. There are several reasons for this but the first is that this is the “smartest” mystery/thriller I’ve read in a v

    Enter the

    and check out all of my reviews at

    . Giveaway ends 10/31/17 11:59pm EST.

    This is another book that first caught my attention at Book Expo 2017. Though I hadn’t read

    , the first DI Jim Clemo book, I had absolutely no problem at all reading this book as a stand-alone.

    drew me in straightaway. It is a very steady page-turner. There are several reasons for this but the first is that this is the “smartest” mystery/thriller I’ve read in a very long time. Are you one of those bookworms that professes to read only literary fiction? Well then, this book is for you. Gilly Macmillan has written the perfect crossover for fans of literary and contemporary fiction who who are ready to take a step toward the dark side!

    out is also very uniquely plot and character driven. It’s really very well-balanced in that regard which I find unusual; especially in this genre. The story mattered more because I became very invested in the characters. What started out at as a typical who dunnit quickly developed into a gut-wrenching NEED to know.

    The story is told in the first and third person points of view of multiple characters. I very much enjoyed this approach as it made each chapter feel fresh.

    With regard to the characters, it would be impossible for me to choose a favorite. Of course, I loved Noah and Abdi. But I also loved the way the author rendered Abdi’s mother and sister, Sofia and Maryam. I loved that they were all realistic and flawed and I was very impressed by the way Gilly Macmillan depicted their relationships. There were so many subtle nuances that really made a difference in terms of my ability to relate and connect to them. In fact, I believe the relationships mattered more than the individual characters in many ways.

    I must admit that I did shed a few tears at the end of this book. I do hope that DI Jim Clemo will make a return in the future. I would also be among the first in line to read anything else written by Gilly Macmillan.

    4.5/5 stars

    Many thanks to William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for providing me a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  • Paromjit

    This is my first read of author Gilly Macmillan and I was really impressed at this novel that speaks to us of the social and political issues that are permeating and dividing our world. It is a multilayered emotive, atmospheric and character driven mystery featuring the recent return of Detective Jim Clemo after undergoing counselling with Dr Manelli on his mandatory leave. Set in Bristol, Fifteen year old friends, Noah Sandler and Abdi Mahdi are the odd couple, Noah is white and from a privileg

    This is my first read of author Gilly Macmillan and I was really impressed at this novel that speaks to us of the social and political issues that are permeating and dividing our world. It is a multilayered emotive, atmospheric and character driven mystery featuring the recent return of Detective Jim Clemo after undergoing counselling with Dr Manelli on his mandatory leave. Set in Bristol, Fifteen year old friends, Noah Sandler and Abdi Mahdi are the odd couple, Noah is white and from a privileged background and Abdi is black, from a Somalian refugee family. They are drawn together as both are outsiders at their elite school. Oh and yes, Noah has terminal cancer which he wishes no-one to know about. One night, Noah is found floating unconscious in a Bristol canal and placed into an induced coma. His traumatised friend, Abdi, is not talking, leaving room for suspicions to grow. Jim and his colleague, DS Justin Woodley are assigned the task of getting to the bottom of the mystery, only to find there is much more to it than they expect.

    Bristol is a volatile city, riven with fear and tension. Neo Nazis have marched on an anti-immigration platform. Racism, prejudice, hate, and violence proliferate and the Mahdi family have personal experience of this. DCI Fraser is well aware that their case is likely to worsen matters in the community, and Jim wonders if they can trust a witness's account of what occurs. In the midst of this is the media, where the truth is of little account, as they stoke the ever febrile atmosphere in a combustible Bristol. Jim's bitter and ambitious ex-girlfriend, Emma, is now a journalist willing to do whatever it takes to become known. Noah's parents, Fiona and Ed, are a picture of grief, aware of how little time they have with him. This fuels the path they take and their need to protect Noah. Noah has a bucket list, and it is this that has him getting together with Abdi on the fateful night. Abdi's father, Nur, is a taxi driver and a hopeful man with aspirations for his family.

    Maryam, his mother is depressed and fearful, having never really bonded with Abdi. It is Sofia, his sister, that has filled the vacuum left by his mother. When Abdi goes missing, they want to do their best to protect him. Their experience of the horrors and exploitation rampant in a refugee camp has never left the family as once again it returns to haunt their present.

    Gilly Macmillan is a talented writer who gets inside the heads of her complex and authentic characters amidst the turbulent background of a Bristol torn apart by the issues of race and immigration. This is a gritty tale of secrets, lies, family dynamics, friendship, grief and loss. Both families want to look after and protect their children. Noah is not a saintly character with debilitating cancer, he is flawed and so very human. I love the depiction of Jim, a character concerned for Abdi and what he faces, his ability to empathise is central to who he is as he delves into the mystery. Macmillan weaves a story with a gritty social and political commentary relevant to our contemporary realities. A brilliant read which I recommend highly. Many thanks to Little, Brown for an ARC.

  • *TANYA*

    I absolutely enjoyed this book. I read the first book in this series and it was “okay” but the author completely redeemed herself with this book. FANTASTIC!!


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