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The Outside Man

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  912 Ratings  ·  47 Reviews
The outside man is society lawyer Adam Shaw. A northerner in a southern town jealous of its secrets, he finds the dead body of his best friend's wealthy wife -- and his friend is missing.
In a world where wealthy people will stop at nothing to maintain a genteel image, Shaw must gamble his career, his marriage, and his very life in a passionate quest for the real murderer -
Paperback, 320 pages
Published February 12th 1982 by Ballantine Books (first published 1981)
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What drew me to this book was that it was set in Alabama where I live and that it was described as a courtroom drama. Courtroom drama was a total over statement. The characters never set foot in a courtroom and it was much more of a detective story than a legal thriller. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I also love detective stories. As to the Alabama setting, yes it was set in Birmingham, but there was very little Southern flavor. For one thing, if you have ever been in Alabama you w ...more
Jan 05, 2013 Colin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was one of two in the same item by this author. Having enjoyed the first one, I was looking forward to reading this. Sorry to say that it isn’t one that I would recommend. It concerns a lawyer, Adam, who finds one of his lady clients dead. One of the suspects is her husband, but Adam thinks otherwise and the book is about his attempts to find out whodunnit and why. He is not helped in this by a very stroppy policeman who appears to regard him with the same contempt as the husband, and ...more
May 25, 2010 Sidney rated it it was amazing
Intricate, twisty and rewarding. This early Richard North Patterson immerses lawyer Adam Shaw in a case, which sends him on a voyage of personal discovery as he seeks to defend a friend on a murder charge. It's really a tale to two troubled families, double dealings and dark desires, a compact and well plotted tale.
Aug 01, 2012 Aries rated it really liked it
Shelves: thriller
Secondo romanzo in originale che leggo e di nuovo si tratta di un volume di Richard North Patterson mai tradotto in Italia (o meglio, pubblicato solo in un rarissimo giallo mondadori di parecchio tempo fa).Dopo "The Lasko Tangent", opera prima che, come avevo scritto, risultava estremamente gradevole ma indubbiamente acerba, questo secondo tentativo dell'autore risulta ancora più convincente; è una storia di segreti, di intolleranza, di chiusura e di mancanza di speranza, in cui l'avvocato Adam ...more
Nov 16, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-shelf
I picked this book up at a fundraiser about a month ago. I have read RNP books before, but not often. I was a little concerned when I saw some the reviews for this one. The feelings were a little mixed, with some more recent reviews being rather harsh. But, the book was only 300 pages long, so I figured I could run through it pretty fast. I actually liked it. It was published in the very early 1980's. That is something you may want to keep in mind. Not because of outdated technology, but because ...more
Terry Lee
May 28, 2015 Terry Lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. It's been a while since I read Richard North Patterson and I forgot how much I enjoyed his writing. The Outside Man is a story of a complex relationship between husband and wife, father and daughter. The trouble begins with the murder of Lydia Cantwell, a client of Adam Shaw and his father-in-law, Roland Cade. The investigation not only leads to the killer, but it opens up secrets of the past between Cade, Shaw, and his wife, Kris Ann.

This book was fast-paced, exciting and tow
Lorin Cary
Adam Shaw is a lawyer. Originally from Cleveland, he now lives in Birmingham with his wife, the daughter of a prominent lawyer. Adam works at his firm. When the wife of a long-time client is murdered, Adam investigates and in the process unearths many long-hidden secrets. This is early Patterson, and he's gotten better. Pacing and character development are well done.
Aug 10, 2015 Tulay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very good book.

Have to be patient at the beginning, but all the twists and turns will make you engrossed to the end. Deep south during MLK, some language will make you sick. Everybody is smoking, drinking and drugs. Dysfunctional families and their secrets. Book was published in 1981, but some issues still in the news today.
Chris Miles
Jul 21, 2015 Chris Miles rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have become a huge fan of Richard North Patterson over recent years, particularly his legal thrillers. The Outside Man certainly did not let me down. It is a wonderful read, not only being a great legal thriller but also a very good commentary of injustices carried out upon the negro population of the southern United States.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 11, 2015 Barb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
Meh legal thriller. I thought it was contemporary, but it was published in 1981. I probably would have liked it more had I read it back then. Lots of twists and turns, but the characters were so not memorable that I kept forgetting who was whom.
I usually wholeheartedly enjoy Richard Patterson books. This one I did not enjoy so much, however, I did not have any trouble finishing the book. I like Patterson's writing style.
Feb 23, 2016 Katie rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2016
Lawyer Adam Shaw is thrust into the murder case of his good friend's wife. A northerner married to the southern bell, he is already juggling the job under his demanding father in law, new money, and the society.
Feb 22, 2015 MARY STEPP rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good read

Slow at times but otherwise entertaining. To easy to figure out who done it. Have read much much Patterson book but this one okay.
Erika Hock
Sep 14, 2015 Erika Hock rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read

This was a good read-I had it figured out a quarter way through, but the characters were interesting. Would like a sequel.
Sep 06, 2015 Catherine marked it as to-read
I registered a book at!
May 17, 2016 Debbie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good read although I did not like the ending. It was a good mystery and legal thriller.
Jun 30, 2015 Richard rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I found it quite hard to follow who was who in the beginning.
Richard White
Jan 11, 2016 Richard White rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: did-not-finish
Couldn't get into this one. Shelved as did not finish.
Jan 06, 2015 Ruthie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Airplane read - out of desperation!
Excellent as always!
Mary Ann Plahitko
Mar 18, 2015 Mary Ann Plahitko rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Most anything I have read by Richard North Patterson I would give 4 stars. He knows how to weave an intriguing tale, and he has a great writing style.
May 08, 2012 Roberta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was a book, though well written, I was able to put down for periods of time - over & over again. I classify it, as others have, as a classic detective story.' Though there were twists & turns in 'who done it,' there was nothing that motivated me to want to keep turning pages into the wee hours. I only finished it out of sheer determination as it had been setting on my nightstand for far too long & it was time to move on.
May 21, 2016 Arlene rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love Richard North Patterson, but this book was really not good. It just really did not make any sense to me and the writing seemed to be off. Oh well
quite a good read although it took a while to actually get in to it.
Mar 21, 2012 Ida rated it it was ok
I am just starting this book and am finding Patterson's writing style somewhat awkward which is a little annoying, but so far the storyline is keeping me entertained.
So, now that I am done, do I give it 3 stars for the exciting plot, or 2 stars for the unfortunate editing?
Adam Shaw, a business lawyer, does crazily stupid things trying to find the truth behind the murder of his good friend's wife.
Jun 23, 2011 SharlzG rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as intricate as his later books, but an easy and addictive read. I admit I had guessed the outcome quite early, but once I got into it (first few chapters were annoying) I didn't want to put it down and lost track of time on more than one occasion. Not phenomenal, but a definite prelude to the depth and quality in his later works.
Jun 12, 2011 Caroline rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like legal/crime mysteries
This is a departure from the West Coast lawyer plot line of the Chris Paget series and East Coast political Kilcannon thrillers, and instead, the "outside man" is a northern lawyer in a southern town. In typical fashion, the author does not disappoint. First read 2/2/2006
UPDATE: Re-read this again 6/2011...still a great vacation read.
Oct 12, 2012 Amber rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book! It was a bit of a slow start but kept me guessing up until the very end. Patterson managed to surprise me with the ending while leaving me wondering how I hadnt seen it coming. I eish there was a sequel however, I want to know what happened to Adam after tje end of this book.
Jul 09, 2012 Scout rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting murder mystery, but most interesting is the exploration of the ways in which couples try to do what's best for others and much later find out that they've made huge mistakes. I didn't like it that the solution to the mystery was revealed in a lengthy narrative at the end of the novel.
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Richard North Patterson is the author of fourteen previous bestselling and critically acclaimed novels. Formerly a trial lawyer, Patterson served as the SEC’s liaison to the Watergate special prosecutor and has served on the boards of several Washington advocacy groups dealing with gun violence, political reform, and women’s rights. He lives in San Francisco and on Martha’s Vineyard.
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“Hell, with money you can even get away with being liberal. But if you’re poor and liberal, people just think you’re peculiar. Oh, they’ll never be sure whether you’re a liberal because you’re poor or poor because you’re a liberal, but they’re damn sure it’s one or the other.” 0 likes
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