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Monday, April 01, 2013

The Guilty One A Decent Mystery That Kept Me Guessing To the End

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

When London solicitor Daniel Hunter meets his newest client, he doesn't see a murderer—he sees himself.  If it hadn't been for the kindly foster mother who took him in as a boy, it could have been Daniel sitting in a jail cell, accused of committing a violent crime.  For this reason, Daniel finds himself drawn to young Sebastian Croll, even though he knows better than to get too attached to a client.  But, the 11-year-old just looks so small, so helpless.  Seb's a strange kid, that's all too apparent, but did he really pick up a brick and use it to bash in a playmate's head?  Daniel believes Seb when he insists he's innocent.  
As Daniel works with Seb's family, it becomes clear that something's very wrong in the Croll household.  The situation reminds Daniel so much of his childhood that he's swept into painful memories of his own troubled past.  And of Minnie—the woman who saved and destroyed him at the same time.  

While evidence against Seb piles up all around him, Daniel must decide how best to defend the child many believe to be a murderer.  Daniel just wants the truth:  What really happened between the two young boys?  How did one end up dead? Is it possible that Seb really did kill his 8-year-old neighbor?  Does Daniel believe him only because of Seb's similarities to himself?  And will it really matter in the long run, when it's up to a jury—not Sebastian's defense team—to decide between guilt and innocence?  

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne tells a chilling story about troubled children, the abuse they suffer, and that which they sometimes inflict on others.  It's a heartbreaking novel that stresses how badly children need loving, attentive parents as well as professional help for disturbing behavior patterns.  Plotwise, the novel moves along at a steady enough pace, giving readers a very full picture of Daniel's character.  The courtroom part of the story does get predictable; still, The Guilty One is a decent mystery that kept me guessing until the very end.  

(Readalikes:  Reminded me a lot of Defending Jacob by William Landay and a bit of House Rules by Jodi Picoult)

Grade:  B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  R for strong language, violence and mild sexual innuendo/content

To the FTC, with love:  I received a finished copy of The Guilty One from the generous folks at Harper Collins via those at TLC Book Tours.  Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Guessing until the end sounds good to me!

    Thanks for being a part of the tour.


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