“As much about class and cultural history as about soccer”

   “Even for someone who is not a big murder mystery fan, there is much to like about this yarn. For starters, I loved the fact that the hero of our story, a refugee [from] the barrio, makes a profession of finding the “on” switch for gizmos whose owners are too self-important to read the instructions and too rich to have to. Not only does this make the guy a plausible investigator, but it also encapsulates the zeitgeist of pre-crash LA, where the social strata seem to be just as unstable as the earthquake prone geology.
“As the story proceeds, we learn such choice morsels of cultural history as the fact that the first American football game was between what is now Princeton University and Rutgers and, of course, much about the history of soccer. What we also learn about is fair play, both on the playing field and off (The book, by the way, is aptly titled, both because a detailed understanding of soccer’s off side rule plays a key role in the apprehension of the bad guy, and because many of the characters in the story were, indeed, “off sides”. Also, the ethical sophistication of the rule itself is shown to be a surprisingly meaningful object lesson.).
“The story has the weakness that the hero, like Harry Potter, is a bit too good to be true. Nevertheless, I gave the book 5 stars because the author is a first time mystery writer, and also because he took the trouble to understand the details of the complicated finance that underpinned the mortgage bubble.”
   –Edward D. Weinberger on

“Four Stars”

   “This was a fascinating read, neither a cozy kind of mystery or a brutal one (though there is a rather brutal murder…). The author is a journalist, with a good journalist’s wide knowledge of the bizarre reasons behind bizarre events. The tone is dryly ironic as the book lays out L.A. suburban culture and links soccer (in a bizarre version of How Soccer Explains the World) to the mortgage fiasco. Minor characters are particularly delightful, such as the Accused, who reminded me a great deal of my beloved father-in-law, who could empty a room in five minutes.”
   –commenter using the name Chutes on

 “Four Stars”

   “A wonderfully strange and fascinating book. A great read … even if you don’t understand the offside rule.”
   –K. Magee on

 “Think about including … in your … soccer dad’s stocking this Holiday season …”

   “Long time journalist and soccer referee, William Barrett, brings a unique blend of soccer history, Los Angeles culture and murder mystery in OFFSIDE: A Mystery
   “This book is definitely for adults and is especially interesting if you are a native Angelino like me!  I grew up near where this story takes place and could relate to many of the themes and references.  I enjoyed reading this book and it would be especially interesting if you are in real estate or finance.”

“Three stars”

“Witty and frank, Offside is an intriguing mystery with a solid in-depth base of history, politics, pop culture, and, of course, soccer. Soccer seemed to be the central theme, and why wouldn’t it? It’s vital to Latino culture. But not being a sport buff, it was a little much and a tad confusing at times.
“Barrett paints a true landscape of the SoCal scene and he does so with such brutal finesse. The Mexican cultural references and historical facts were a great value and only enhanced the Latino awareness.
“Although slow at capturing my interest, the book illustrates the writer’s impressive skills. He cleverly explores poverty, racism, and other socio-economical issues that Latinos face today. It’s enlightening and thought-provoking. The book is almost suitable for a Chicano Studies class; portions of it can be printed in textbooks. The story, however, was not as great. I felt like I was waiting for the mystery. Also, the variety of characters made it hard to keep track of the story.
“It was evident that the author had vast experience and knowledge in police protocol, government, politics, pop culture, and sports, but I felt that it all depleted the energy from the story. Overall, this was an okay first novel.”
–Celia on Livin’ La Vida Latina (a Latina book club), and Barnes & Noble

Comments and Reviews

     “A very engaging story.”
   –commenter using nickname “dwoman2014” on

Comments and Reviews

     “Story was excellent … All in all it was a fabulous read!”
   –commenter using nickname useitorloseit on

“Very good read”

   “This is a very entertaining read. Mitchener meets Baldacci. The author has a remarkable ability to intertwine historical strings going back centuries (foot oriented sports) with a fast paced murder mystery. This would be a great book to embrace by the fire or on a beach. A very good first novel. I am awaiting the next.”
   –Jonathon Rogers on

“A highly accomplished debut novel”

  “Mr. Barrett’s background as a financial journalist, soccer ref and lawyer serves him beautifully in this highly accomplished debut novel. He manages the neat trick of wrapping the sordid tale of the housing bubble-and-bust inside a page-turning yarn of intrigue, murder – and, not least, soccer. (Who knew the Laws of the Game could make for a riveting jumping-off point for a murder mystery?) Mr. Barrett’s depth and breadth of knowledge and research is a revelation. (See his extensive source notes on the book’s website.) His ability to convey sense of place, both geographically and socioeconomically, on the pitch and off, is a literary treat. I look forward to reading more from this author, and to hearing that some smart Hollywood producer has snapped up the film rights to Offside.”
   –Bill A. on

Insightful book on many interesting topics as well as a good novel”

“Great start for the novel. As a soccer referee myself, I found a lot to like with regards to the characters and the situation in general. Learned a lot of historical and architectural factoids from the book as well. The main character is affable, and quite believable in the context of the story (southern California, around 2006, during the buildup of housing bubble). So many good references to soccer, the housing market and the locales.
“If I were to nitpick, my two comments to the author are that sometimes the story takes a long tangent in explaining one of these sidebars and when we come back to the main story it takes a little bit to reacquaint myself to what was going on. The second is that I would have loved to get more detail into how the ending takes place. I loved the conclusion, but it would have been even better to get slightly more detail as to how things resolved themselves as well as an epilogue of sorts. Still, I am giving it a solid 5 stars because it was a great read.”
–YetAnotherSoccerRef blog on

“Writer suffered from Offside Trap”

“Spent too much time on diversions from primary mystery.”
–Sunbeamdon on