A genre-blending, boundary-bending combination of high concept science, mythic mystery and high-tech thriller, Outsourced explores the practical possibilities of quantum entanglement when applied to the cold-blooded actions of a contract killer. It starts with a splendid scenario – the authorities know that the hitman standing trial has committed hundreds of murders, but he’s totally Teflon. They can’t break any of his alibis. How did he manage to kill so many people without so much as touching them?
The answer lies in a nifty mix of the X-Files and the Japanese manga series Death Note, accompanied by a sizeable side-order of Eastern philosophy. When a normal guy gets hold of The Device and starts exploring its facilities, he soon encounters some pretty grim moral implications. You know how when you summon a demon or make a wish upon a lamp, then you have to be completely careful what you ask for? Well, Outsourced is a 21st century interpretation of that situation.
It’s a rapid read, stacked with impressive attention to detail when it comes to thriller tech (guns, bullets, electronics and the like). Outsourced also introduces a great female investigator: intelligent, forthright and full-on in a fight. Likewise, the uber-successful assassin is a brilliant bad guy; callously calculating and chillingly competent.
However, the decision to make the central character a struggling writer dented the book’s impact; a pair of authors don’t make great action heroes. I typically tend to glaze over when authors fill pages of their books about how cruel the publishing biz can be. All a bit self-indulgent, which is a shame because the core concept and plot were extremely engaging. I would have liked to learn more about how the heroes crafted the specific of their ‘ultimate weapon’ for the final showdown – especially as the whole story pivots on exactly what you wish for.
Overall, a rapidly-paced action-packed page-turner with stand-out gunfights, and a cinematic set piece which just begs to be made into a movie. Thoroughly entertaining and totally unpredictable.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
Outsourced by Eric J Gates is available at Amazon