The Guilty One

The Guilty One

4.4 14
by Lisa Ballantyne
     
 

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Moving and suspenseful, Lisa Ballantyne’s The Guilty One is a psychological thriller about the darkness in each of us. It explores how we are all tied to our pasts, and what it means to be guilty.

Solicitor Daniel Hunter is called to defend 11-year-old Sebastian who has been charged with the murder of a young boy on a London playground. While

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Overview

Moving and suspenseful, Lisa Ballantyne’s The Guilty One is a psychological thriller about the darkness in each of us. It explores how we are all tied to our pasts, and what it means to be guilty.

Solicitor Daniel Hunter is called to defend 11-year-old Sebastian who has been charged with the murder of a young boy on a London playground. While examining Sebastian’s life in order to save it, Daniel can’t help but be transported to his own difficult youth spent in foster care—a time when the one he trusted the most was the one who betrayed him…

Emotionally wrought, and with an abundance of twists and turns, The Guilty One is a character-driven novel of suspense that explores the true nature of guilt.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Marilyn Stasio
Murdered children aren't uncommon in genre thrillers, but children who are killers are harder to find. That alone makes Lisa Ballantyne's jolting first novel…something of a novelty…But this young Scottish writer isn't simply out to shock; she's intent on raising awareness of how parental abuse and societal indifference instill in some children a smoldering, explosively violent rage.
Publishers Weekly
A child-on-child murder drives Ballantyne’s searing debut, a psychological legal thriller. Because solicitor Daniel Hunter, an experienced defender of children accused of crimes, was a troubled child himself, he connects with his disturbed client, 11-year-old Sebastian Croll, who’s on trial for beating to death eight-year-old Ben Stokes in a London park. Alternating flashbacks of Daniel’s youth as a fatherless foster child of a drug-addicted mother given by social workers to eccentric, perceptive, and loving Minnie Flynn demystify Daniel’s rejection of Minnie, who both hurt him and saved him from Sebastian’s fate or worse. Meanwhile, the truth about Sebastian and his arguably overdrawn dysfunctional family gradually emerges. Drawn with ruthless realism, Ballantyne’s sympathetic major characters, especially Daniel and Minnie, leap from her pages into readers’ hearts. Ballantyne also indicts the British government’s stingy refusal to fund genuine rehabilitation of juvenile offenders in this scalding exploration of childhood violence, adult refusal to forgive, and redemptive love. Agent: Nicola Barr, Greene & Heaton (U.K.). (Mar.)
Lee Child
“Sophisticated, suspenseful, unsettling, and highly recommended: a terrific debut from an author to watch.”
Joyce Carol Oates
“Lisa Ballantyne has written a first novel that is both moving and suspenseful; richly detailed, yet with the eerie simplicity of a parable”
Joyce Maynard
“The Guilty One offers that rare combination of a beautifully crafted story, inhabited with characters we haven’t known before (but won’t forget)—and a story that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.”
Hallie Ephron
“On one level, Lisa Ballantyne’s The Guilty One delivers riveting courtroom drama that is unflinchingly true to its characters. At another level, its personal story resonates with love, forgiveness, and the possibility of redemption. The Guilty One will touch your heart even as it leaves you unsettled.”
Rosamund Lupton
“Thought provoking, brave and challenging, this book is an unsettling and compulsive read.”
Daily Record
“One of the best debuts I’ve ever encountered”
Richard Madeley
“One of the most readable, emotionally intense novels of the year, and a debut one at that. Lisa Ballantyne pulls off the key writer’s trick of getting us to care about the characters; by the end of the first chapter, you will be comprehensively on the hook.”
Cosmopolitan (UK)
“A page-turner”
Booklist
“An accomplished first novel and a good bet for book groups.”
criminalelement.com
Ballantyne blurs the line between right and wrong like a double-edged sword in this methodical psychological thriller. The age-old struggle between good and evil takes on new meaning through characters so jaded by life; she makes you question it yourself.
Library Journal
London-based solicitor Daniel Hunter typically takes on dicey cases, but his latest is especially troublesome. He's defending 11-year-old Sebastian, accused of killing a younger boy, and as he probes Sebastian's knotty home life Daniel is reminded of his own tragic past: a childhood in foster care until he was adopted by a loving woman who then betrayed him so despicably that he turned his back on her forever. And if that setup doesn't intrigue you, nothing will. Lots of excitement for this debut, including sales to 21 territories so far and a 100,000-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
The tales of two troubled boys at individual crossroads are interwoven in Ballantyne's first novel. Daniel Hunter grew up on the mean streets, with a drugged-out mother and an attitude that landed him in constant trouble. Removed from the mother's home, the English boy bounced from foster home to foster home until he finally ended up at Minnie's. The Irish Minnie, a widow whose only child has died, gave up nursing and moved to the country with her family, but she suffered twin tragedies that have left her alone with her animals and small farm, eking out a living selling eggs and produce and taking in foster kids. When Daniel arrives, Minnie tries to mold the disturbed and violent young boy into a man and eventually earns his respect, but years later, as a grown attorney, he and Minnie have parted ways and he no longer speaks to the woman who saved him. When he receives news that causes him to reflect on the years he put between himself and the affable, loving Minnie, he plunges into a case involving another vulnerable but possibly murderous boy named Sebastian. When Sebastian, whose wealthy parents hide a multitude of sins from the world, is charged with killing an 8-year-old playmate, Daniel must reach back into his own past to defend the child and prevent him from spending his formative years in prison, locked up like a monster. Ballantyne, who is Scottish, exhibits comfortable familiarity with the British legal and social systems, and the story she tells is both absorbing and compelling. This very lengthy novel takes the reader through Daniel's childhood and both the trial preparation and the trial itself. The prose is strong, but Daniel and Sebastian are so damaged that it can be difficult to feel empathy for them. A captivating debut, but Daniel and Sebastian prove difficult to like, and readers may find themselves unsatisfied when turning the last page.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780062195517
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
03/19/2013
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
453
Sales rank:
940,115
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.40(d)

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What People are saying about this

Joyce Carol Oates

“Lisa Ballantyne has written a first novel that is both moving and suspenseful; richly detailed, yet with the eerie simplicity of a parable”

Joyce Maynard

“The Guilty One offers that rare combination of a beautifully crafted story, inhabited with characters we haven’t known before (but won’t forget)—and a story that will keep you turning the pages late into the night.”

Rosamund Lupton

“Thought provoking, brave and challenging, this book is an unsettling and compulsive read.”

Hallie Ephron

“On one level, Lisa Ballantyne’s The Guilty One delivers riveting courtroom drama that is unflinchingly true to its characters. At another level, its personal story resonates with love, forgiveness, and the possibility of redemption. The Guilty One will touch your heart even as it leaves you unsettled.”

Richard Madeley

“One of the most readable, emotionally intense novels of the year, and a debut one at that. Lisa Ballantyne pulls off the key writer’s trick of getting us to care about the characters; by the end of the first chapter, you will be comprehensively on the hook.”

Lee Child

“Sophisticated, suspenseful, unsettling, and highly recommended: a terrific debut from an author to watch.”

Read More

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