Saturday, 16 July 2016
The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne: Book Review
The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne
(May contain spoilers)
The Guilty One is the story of an eleven year old child who is accused of the murder of his eight year old friend. The plot doesn't focus on him, but on his solicitor, Daniel, a thirty-something Londoner. Except the plot's not really about thirty-something Daniel. To tell you the truth, the book flicks backwards and forwards so much, I couldn't tell you what it's about.
Chapters alternate between the thirty year old Daniel, dealing with this court case and the death of his adopted mother, Minnie, and teenage Daniel, growing up with Minnie. In doing this, it seems Ballantyne intends to highlight the parallels between the lives and experience of Daniel and his client, Sebastian. However, the result is that we never spend enough time at one period or the other of Daniel's life to really grow attached to him as a character.
In the latter half of the book, a large part of it is taken up by the court case. Now, I love a fictional court case, and I've read more than enough Jodi Picoult books to know just how gripping they can be. That's not the case here though. Prior to the court case, the reader isn't given enough information to form their own conclusion as to whether Sebastian is innocent or guilty, and without that belief, there's nothing to hope for.
A weak attempt at a love story also runs as a subplot throughout the novel, but once again, the reader isn't given the chance to grow attached enough to either of the characters to care one way or the other how that works out.
Conclusion: Meh - if it's the only thing around, give it a go, but there are plenty of better books out there.