The Outliers

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
214 Pages
Reviewed on 07/20/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Pikasho Deka for Readers' Favorite

The Outliers by Jack Clemons is a historical fiction novel set in the small town of Lewes, Delaware, at the dawn of the 20th century. Sonny Sockum is a Nanticoke teenager working odd jobs for Miss Lil, a bordello madame. However, his humdrum life turns upside down when a Deputy US Marshal comes barging into Lewes, tracking an outlaw involved in multiple robberies. When he gets wind that his brother Daniel is involved in a potential high-stakes criminal operation, Sonny decides to get Daniel out of the affair. But he only manages to dig himself deeper into the hole. Meanwhile, his friendship with the daughter of the town banker, Hannah, creates quite a scandal, causing her abusive and violent father to treat Sonny as his mortal enemy.

Author Jack Clemons seamlessly captures the atmosphere of a small town in America at the beginning of the 20th century. The Outliers is a laidback western crime drama novel that enthralls you from start to finish. The characters are well-realized and distinct in a way that each character pops out of the page. Sonny, Daniel, Marshal, and all the inhabitants of Miss Lil's establishment are vivid and colorful, making them compelling to read. I particularly enjoyed the dynamic between Sonny, Jimmy, and the Marshal. The story is written in a first-person POV style, and the events unfold before you through Sonny's eyes. The plot moves quickly, and the dialogue is perfectly suited to the time. I had a wonderful time reading The Outliers. I highly recommend it.

Grant Leishman

The Outliers by Jack Clemons takes us to a small harbor-side town in Delaware, around the turn of the century, where a young Nanticoke Indian boy, Sonny, scrapes a living as help for the local madam and her whorehouse. Indians are shunned by the townies but Sonny, with his quick mind and forced boarding-school education by the authorities, manages to get along well and is comfortable with his life as Ma’am Lil’s gofer boy. Fascinated and intrigued by the affection and attention being paid to him by the banker’s daughter, beautiful young Hannah, Sonny is in danger of crossing a forbidden line and is becoming obsessed with the young woman. When a crusty old U.S. Marshall arrives in town, looking for a notorious bank robber with a price on his head, he quickly decides Sonny is the one to help him track down the fugitive. Sonny, though, has other problems on his mind as he tries to keep his drunken older brother out of trouble with the law, and getting on with his life. With all this on his plate, the scene is set for an adventure that will test Sonny’s loyalties, his maturity, and his innate sense of right and wrong.

The Outliers is an interesting period piece that combines some well-known historical figures with a fictionalized adventure. Author Jack Clemons has done a fine job of presenting a compelling mystery while also giving the reader an insight into life during this period, especially for those on the margins of society, particularly Native Americans. I was struck by the attitude of the “good people” of the town, the white folks, who automatically barred anyone that was different from engaging in most aspects of society. The relationship between Jimmy, the Marshall, and Sonny was undoubtedly the highlight of the story and I liked the way the author dropped little clues as to their identities, which naturally led to guessing from the reader. The attitude of the banker to any possible liaison between his daughter and Sonny was interesting. It was perhaps best summed up in the opinion that beating a Native American almost to death was acceptable and understandable, whereas a slight infraction against one of the white townies was almost a capital offence. The writer’s style is relaxed, conversational, and the dialogue was well suited to the time period. This is a solid, enjoyable read that I can definitely recommend.

Trudi LoPreto

The Outliers is the story of Sonny, a young Nanticoke Indian trying to live in a prejudiced white world. Most people consider him to be useless. He is fortunate, however, to be given a job and a home by Miss Lil. He takes his job very seriously, working hard and doing all that is asked of him in her Delaware bordello located on the outskirts of the town of Lewes. Sonny wants nothing more than to be treated fairly. He spends most of his time hoping to become involved with Hannah, but her father sees Sonny as a boy he does not want anywhere near his young daughter. When not thinking about Hannah, he spends his time trying to keep his brother Daniel out of trouble and getting involved with the bad guy. Jimmy is in town to be with Anne (one of Miss Lil’s girls) and many believe to rob the local bank. The Marshall has arrived hot on the trail of Jimmy, wanting to bring him in as a wanted man to get the reward money. Sonny, Hannah, Jimmy, and the Marshall are all intertwined in the adventure along with Miss Lil and her girls, and the final outcome was impossible to see coming.

I loved reading The Outliers very much. The Outliers has a little bit of everything, making this a great read for young, old, male, and female readers. There are several surprises and disappointments to end the story, and Sonny tells some of the details years later. Author Jack Clemons has captured the events from the time period perfectly and worked them into a fictional story. I believe The Outliers will become a smashing success and I strongly urge you to put this one on the top of your reading list. You will be glad you did.