The Guilty One’s tagline on the book’s cover, “some things can never be forgiven” captures the reader’s interest straightaway.
Lisa Ballantyne writes an intriguing story right from page one, the pace of the book never faltering despite the story switching from present to past and back to present. Daniel Hunter, a solicitor and partner in his firm takes on the case of an eleven year old boy, Sebastian accused of murdering a younger boy in the playground. Daniel finds himself drawn to this young boy named ‘unsettling’ by a fellow solicitor.
The story is told through Daniel’s eyes as he interacts with Sebastian and finds parallels between their lives including a history of family violence. He handles the small boy with care and is firmly convinced of his client’s innocence. As the story unfolds, Daniel thinks back to his own childhood centered around his drug addict mother and his desire to protect her even though he was just a child.
Moved from one foster home to another, abandoned because of Daniel’s continuous violent behavior, his social worker finally takes him to a woman named Minnie. Haunted by her own past, Minnie takes Daniel in, seeing a little boy so used to taking care of his mother, he has forgotten the his own needs for care and protection. Eventually Daniel also starts caring for Minnie and begins to settle down and do well at school.
As the trial starts and Sebastian’s case is examined in court, Daniel receives news that Minnie has died. While going through the rigours of the court and the intense scrutiny of the press, Daniel battles the demons that has surrounded him all his life as he struggles to understand Minnie’s past and her lie that tore apart both their lives.
The Guilty One leaves you guessing till the very end and forces the reader to empathize with both Daniel and Sebastian. If you’re looking for a suspense filled book with a dramatic twist at the end, this is a must-read.
Available now: Hachette RRP$24.99.