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Monday, May 13, 2013

*Giveaway* / Review: The Guilty One

Title: The Guilty One
Author: Lisa Ballantyne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication Date: 
 March 19, 2013
Reviewer: Ethan

Review: Daniel Hunter is no stranger to lost causes. In fact, there was a time, not too long ago, when he himself was seen as a lost cause. His mother was a junkie, so he spent most of his childhood dependent upon the state to place him in proper care. He always felt a constant need to look after his mother, even sacrificing his own needs for her benefit.

But then he went to live with Minnie. At first, he treated her like all the other foster parents, eager to leave and return to his mother. But there was something different about Minnie. A widow who lost her husband soon after the shocking death of her only daughter, Minnie seemed just as damaged as he was. Soon, the two formed a bond, and Daniel finally seemed to find a home. 

Then the betrayal happened. While Daniel was beginning his studies as a law student, he discovered a secret that Minnie had kept from him. This information was simply too much to handle. Suddenly Minnie changed from a loving mother figure to just another person who betrayed his trust. In that moment, Daniel vowed never to speak to her again, and to create his future on his own. 

Fast forward a few years, and Daniel is a successful solicitor working in London. His own troubled background has provided him with the unique ability to defend troubled youth. After the unexpected death of an eight-year-old boy, found dead in a playground, he is called to defend the eleven-year-old neighbor, Sebastian Croll, accused of murdering the other boy. Instantly, Daniel feels a connection to Sebastian. The young boy is surprisingly aware of his situation, and consistently declares his innocence.  But there is something unsettling about the boy. He seems strangely fascinated with the details of the other boy's death, and displays an unusual interest in topics that most would find disturbing. 

Despite this, Daniel agrees to defend Sebastian. Immediately, the media latches on to the story, shining a light not only on the lives of the victim and accused, but on Daniel as well. As the case begins, Daniel learns of the death of Minnie. Now, as he embarks on arguably the most important case of his career, Daniel finds his past colliding with the present, forcing him to remember his past actions, and atone for his own personal guilt. 

In The Guilty One, author Lisa Ballantyne has crafted a genuine story of believable characters facing the harsh realities of our time. She calls into question the practices of juvenile trials, and the effects such events have on the mental and physical health of those involved. Each chapter alternates  between the present events of the trial Daniel's personal flashbacks. In doing this, Ballantyne lets to story slowly unfold, maximizing both the suspense as well as character development. She beautifully creates connections between the past and present events, bringing and inevitable coherence to the entire narrative. Despite the often unpleasant subject matter, especially in the details of the small child's death, I felt emotionally connected and moved by the characters and events that unfolded. The ending, while not necessarily expected, left me satisfied and craving even more time with the characters that a grew close to. This is an exceptional novel of emotional depth and lingering suspense. 

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