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(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

Higgins takes the reader from the 1970’s to the present, following a complex cast of characters through the often-frustrating avenues of courtroom justice. Although the courtroom action rings with authenticity (Higgins is a former Massachusetts assistant attorney general), it may be difficult for the reader to sustain interest in the story over the entire length of the book. As the plot is spread out over such a great length of time, the narrative tension inevitably suffers. Characters are not delineated sufficiently in the beginning, and they all seem to speak in the same wise-guy style. The villains are barely portrayed at all until well after halfway through the book, and a novelist of Higgins’ experience should realize that readers enjoy a good villain as much as a good hero.

Higgins can write a good thriller if he wants to, but the best parts of this book seem lifted from another story, one that has to do with the psychological wear and tear that plodding police work inflicts on its practitioners. OUTLAWS, however is packaged like a dark-and-dirty caper in the style of Elmore Leonard. The blend of styles jars the reader, making this a less than successful work.