Book club GOLD: The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne

24 Sep

Firstly – apologies! I had a take a bit of a blog hiatus to settle into a new job and generally enjoy the summer. But I’m back with a good’un…

The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne review
The Guilty One is a much-hyped psychological thriller from debut author Lisa Ballantyne, and it is total book club gold. Not only is it every bit as gripping as SJ Watson’s Before I Go To Sleep, but it also throws up some hard-hitting questions sure to provoke plenty of juicy debate over your pinot.

Set in London, it follows criminal solicitor Daniel Hunter as he defends enigmatic Sebastian, an eleven-year-old accused of brutally murdering his eight-year-old neighbour. Haunted by the recent conviction of a bright but underprivileged juvenile delinquent, Daniel is desperate to ensure that another youngster doesn’t have his life ruined by a childhood incident – whether guilty or not. As the case progresses, we learn that Daniel’s own childhood could have easily lead him on a much darker path were it not for Minnie, the woman who adopted him. But Minnie is no stranger to secrets herself.

Told in chapters that alternate between the current courtroom drama and flashbacks of Daniel’s violent past, the book throws up the gritty argument of nature vs nurture and wags an accusatory finger at the UK criminal justice system.  Are murderers born, or do we make them?

The book went down a storm at last year’s Frankfurt Book Fair and has since been sold in over 20 territories, ringing up six figure sums. I thought it was a great read – brilliant characters, plenty of intrigue and a big old wallop of sentimentality.

That said, I do kind of agree with the Independent when they say the novel could do with some conflicting opinions – the main characters share the same opinion on child crime and punishment and it starts to teeter on the edge of preachy towards the end.

But I don’t agree with the comments about ‘padding’. I got completely absorbed in Daniel’s story and the outcome of the trial and raced through it. The ending is perhaps a bit of a non-shocker, but I’d still recommend keeping a tissue handy – I was a total wreck by the end.

Intrigued? Check out this interview with Lisa Ballantyne to hear about the haunting characters who compelled her to write her debut novel.

Get in touch if you’ve read it, would love to hear your thoughts…



2 Responses to “Book club GOLD: The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne”

  1. savidgereads September 24, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    Oh thank goodness you are back! Phew!

    Well I sometimes wonder about myself and books. I mean I’ve not even heard of this until now. Though I will admit that I’ve not actually had my head much above the Green Carnation Prize submissions pile apart from to do The Readers so maybe I’m a bit out of the loop?

    Anyway, this sounds gripping and just what I might need post GCP subs so I’m going to have to hunt down a copy. Thanks for sharing and sooooo pleased your back.

    • proseandconsbookclub October 14, 2012 at 8:28 pm #

      Hiii!! Sorry, terribly late reply, I’m getting worse and worse aren’t I! Yes defo was a gripping one. But after a bit of a lengthy debate with The Mothership, we have agreed that the ending feels a bit rushed (my words) / completely rubbish (mum’s words). But if you’re ever looking for a book that’s a nice, easy read, something to curl up on the sofa with whilst enjoying a good cup of cha, this is the one. xx

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