ODD MAN OUT by James Newman (Bloodshot Books)
Once in a while a book comes around that exceeds the expectations of its genre. Its reach goes beyond just entertainment and becomes something bigger than just a horror story; it becomes a mirror reflecting the evils that hide in the corners of our society. James Newman isn’t afraid to shine his spotlight into those dark corners where things like hate and group mentality eagerly waits. We are taught that the worst monsters hide in the dark and ODD MAN OUT proves that the worst of those monsters are within us.
Newman gives us a coming of age tale with a message in ODD MAN OUT; a task that can sometimes seem forced, or perhaps seem like the author is selling you a jar of snake oil. In this savage tale set in the late eighties, Newman takes readers back to the good old days of summer fun and boys-will-be-boys shenanigans at the Black Mountain Camp for Boys. Readers will smell the pine in the trees around the lake that Dennis and his fellow campers spend as much time as possible in.
One of those campers is Wesley Westmore, an old friend of Dennis’ who was always a bit different. Dennis never realized how different until the camp bully finds evidence that Wesley may be gay…fear and anger begin to pollinate the air around the camp as the other campers begin to rally behind the bully.
Newman is at his best when he’s turning up the heat in a tale that could be non-fiction. If you think Jack Ketchum’s THE GIRL NEXT DOOR was intense than prepare to be shattered. Newman takes us into that dark cabin where Dennis’ life is forever changed and doesn’t hold back from showing the reader what happens when a mob forms from an irrational fear of difference. The emotional storm that follows is enough to anger anyone who believes people should be allowed their happiness.
ODD MAN OUT is the type of story that should be shared, amongst friends, family, and anyone who has or will ever be in a situation where they are witnessing the darkness that dwells within humanity. We have all seen it, or heard it… But how many times can it be ignored before we decide that enough is enough and stand up to people who spread hate and fear like a plague…
It’s time we say something, make a stand. You never know when that will save a life, and I think anyone who follows James Newman into the darkness within this book will do exactly that when faced with something that deep down, they know is wrong. (Cory Cline)