Book Review: The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

The Guilty OneWhat’s it about?

A little boy was found dead in a children’s playground…

Daniel Hunter has spent years defending lost causes as a solicitor in London. But his life changes when he is introduced to Sebastian, an eleven-year-old accused of murdering an innocent young boy.

As he plunges into the muddy depths of Sebastian’s troubled home life, Daniel thinks back to his own childhood in foster care – and to Minnie, the woman whose love saved him, until she, too, betrayed him so badly that he cut her out of his life.

But what crime did Minnie commit that made Daniel disregard her for fifteen years? And will Daniel’s identification with a child on trial for murder make him question everything he ever believed in?

My thoughts

As a debut novel I was really impressed with this and really enjoyed it. It’s certainly not an easy subject matter, so this might put some people off. At the end of the day it’s mostly about a dead child so it’s not going to pretty.

The title poses the question who is The Guilty One? and to be honest, in some way or another, all the main characters are carrying some kind of guilt!

It’s a dual time novel with 2 stories that alternate in each chapter. We see an angry, troubled Daniel at 11 years old being taken from his drug addict mum and placed into Minnie’s foster care and then Daniel approx 15 years later as a successful criminal solicitor in London.

I thought it progressed at a good pace, the scenes were described really well, doesn’t use lots of complicated legal jargon so is an easy, quick read because you won’t want to put it down so I’d read it in a couple of days.

Throughout most of the book you are wondering what terrible thing Minnie could have done to wrong Daniel in such a way he would cut her out of his life. I sort of guessed what she had done but it’s almost towards the end when it’s actually revealed and I sympathised with both Minnie and Daniel.

There’s a really good twist at the end – if you read you’ll know what I mean, all the way through you just don’t know and can’t be sure!

My only dislike was the referencing to the Jamie Bulger case and defence – I can fully appreciate why it was used as a comparison but as I was reading, it just didn’t feel right or appropriate to be used in a fictional novel however sympathetically written.

Overall, a really good read and I’d highly recommend if you’re a fan of crime and legal dramas!

Available from Amazon The Guilty One

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