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The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne - Review

Friday, July 27, 2018

I borrowed this book off my friend Laura when we did a book swap a couple of years ago, and although I read lots of the book she'd lent me, I hadn't got to this one. I realised it was still on my shelves while looking for something the other day and decided to pick it up.

It's a dual narrative novel, focussing on Daniel, who in the present day is 35 and a lawyer. He is estranged from his adoptive mother, Minnie, and gets the news that she has died and has left him the farm she owned. At the same time, he's appointed as the lawyer for Sebastian, an 11 year old child who stands accused of murdering a smaller child one August afternoon.

In the other narrative we see Daniel's younger life and how he came to live with Minnie. We see the two of them get to grips with each other and see why Daniel is so angry and feels so abandoned. We see why present day Daniel identifies quite so strongly with Sebastian, and throughout the novel we get to see why Daniel eventually cut Minnie out of his life.

I loved the descriptions of Minnie's farm near Carlisle, and I liked that Daniel was from the north east and from a deprived family yet had gone to university and done really well for himself. I liked the present day narrative and the trial. I did however think that in general we needed more exposition about Sebastian's family and about why Daniel and Minnie had fallen out. So I'm giving this three out of five - readable, but not fantastic.

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