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on 1 November 2015
I'm afraid I did not like this book at all. It started out well and then seem to go awol.
The author flits between the main story and then the past which didn't really add value to the plot.

The writing was generally very low brow - bit like a teenager with no life experience. And the author needs to research police procedure and the legalities when interviewing children.

Some authors write very well in the opposite sex - A thousand splendid sons is a good example. But not in this book. She didn't get into the male way of thinking or language. A study of discourse analysis tends to find that men usually use fewer words and have different sentence structures than women. This is written in one voice. At times I thought Daniel was female.

Also, in reality the psychological consequences of being raised in an environment of extreme drug taking and extreme violence depicted in the book were skimmed over. As if there wouldn't be any.

As said, the story started well but then wondered off track. Tackling the theme of child murder is a huge topic that really warrants the whole book. But to add in drugs and then casually mention spousal violence and child beating left the plot(s) dangling and the characters lacking depth
I could go on but it was a debut novel.
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VINE VOICEon 25 March 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I have not been a great fan of novels that have two stories, past and present, running parallel, It is to the writers credit that both stories could stand alone as brilliant. The jumps between past and present are smooth and well structured so that the reader does not get muddled, The main characters are really well written and the child and mother are particularly powerfully portrayed, the inclusion of family dynamics and the effects of domestic abuse are sensitively yet realistically portrayed and add much to the story. Put together these two stories meld seamlessly and create a great page turners. The lawyer with a troubled background helps a young boy accused of murder. Hints at a future love interest soften a violent tale that hint closely to the Jamie Bulger murder so painfully told in the newspapers not that very long ago. As the boy child is charged and tried at the Crown court the lawyer’s unsettled background and is brought to the fore. A great read and two totally different endings that I did not expect. What a great writer Ballantyne is I shall certainly be scouring the shelves for more of her novels.
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VINE VOICEon 26 July 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
'The Guilty One' is certainly a gripping and compelling read. From the very first chapter I am happy to say I was completely and utterly hooked. The novel follows two closely-linked tales; the first is of a young child (Sebastian) accused of the murder of a small boy and a lawyer named Daniel who is hired to defend him. The second follows Daniel's own troubled childhood and parallels are regularly drawn between himself and his young client. The chapters alternate between these stories and I have to say both are equally entertaining.

As the title infers guilt is an overriding theme throughout the story and it is interesting the different ways in which each of the characters are guilty and indeed how they deal with that guilt. The characters themselves are well-developed and I for one, really cared about what happened to them.

Although I very much enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it to anyone I didn't feel that there was anything particularly new or innovative here. However I wouldn't like that small criticism to detract from what is essentially a thoroughly entertaining read.
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on 29 June 2013
Wow, what a book! It gripped me from the first page when Daniel goes to the police station to meet Sebastian, the eleven year old boy accused of murdering another child. It's the story of Daniel, a lawyer who defends juveniles, and how something in Sebastian reminds him of himself as a boy in foster care. The book carefully and skillful runs on two parallels, showing us the present day with the case and trial with Sebastian, and Daniel's experiences as a boy from when he is placed in the care of Minnie, the woman who changed his life but then betrayed him.

This book is outstanding. Beautifully written and hard to put down, all the characters really come alive. If covers difficult topics and is heart-warming, heart-breaking and thought-provoking all at the same time. It's a book that I didn't want to end, and leaves you wondering who exactly is the guilty one of the title. Lisa is an incredible writer, I'll definitely be reading her next book, and can't recommend this highly enough.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I admit that I was not overly interested in reading this book - I work in law and order and try and steer clear of such books for pleasure, however due to other good reviews on the book I ordered it and thought I would give it a whirl.

The story follows a child Sebastian through a murder trial along with his solicitor representing him. The story is quite emotionally charged - unsurprisingly really as it is about a child murdering a child, but more so because it captures the solicitors life and why he ended up being a solicitor.

The trial was interesting on its own and would certainly appeal to a lot of readers, but what I thought made this story really good was the parts dipping back in the history of Daniel (the solicitor) - they were quite gripping and for me made the book.

To say this is a first novel is pretty impressive, I recommend it and will certainly look out for other books by this author.
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VINE VOICEon 7 July 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
A very compelling book that details a child's murder trial, and the past of the solicitor representing the accused child.

This was a very emotionally wrought book, and had me hooked right from the start. The book has a good pace, and changes back and forth from the current murder trial, to Daniel's childhood, and shows why he became a solicitor specialising in defending adolescents.

Although the murder case was well written, I actually found Daniels past chapters to be the more interesting. The traumas that he suffered were written very emotively, and really made an impression on me. His quest to find a happy home and to be loved, just outshone the cold stares and awkwardness of Sebastian and his trial.

The characters were extremely well written, and their actions completely believable, but the one person that really stood out for me was Minnie. She was a testament to the human spirit showing that no matter how many tragedies we have to endure, we are still capable of great love and selflessness.

This really was a gripping book that I would recommend. Some scenes were difficult to read and very emotional, but you will be glad you have read it.
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VINE VOICEon 17 October 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Two stories are intertwined in the début novel from Lisa Ballantyne. Sebastian is an eleven-year old accused of murdering another boy 3 years younger and Daniel Hunter is his lawyer determined to set him free. Daniel's own childhood was a difficult one as he was adopted when he was the same age as Seb is now and from early in the story it's obvious that Minnie, his adoptive mother, did something terrible, something Daniel has never forgiven.

The two stories are both fascinating, particularly the details of Daniel's childhood and how it has moulded him into the man he is today. The only criticisms I would have is that the middle part drags a little and the ending of Seb's trial is what I would've expected and so it would have been nice to go for a slightly less obvious ending. Overall "The Guilty One," is an intriguing read and I would recommend it.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Daniel Hunter finds himself in the position of solicitor where he meets Sebastian aged 11 who is accused of murdering Ben aged 8 in a playground.

As the case gathers pace, Daniels past comes back to haunt him as it is a stark reminder of growing up in foster care and nearly finding himself in the same position as Sebastian is facing now.

The story is well written and charts Daniels start in life and his relationship with his mother, and leads to the woman who took him in and gave him a home full of love.

Minnie got him where he is today,and the story runs parallel to present day Daniel and Sebastian, and how different their mothers were.

Then the ultimate betrayal, makes Daniel question all he believes in.

A cracking debut novel, couldn`t put it down.
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on 15 October 2015
This is a MUST read for everyone involved with children, in whatever capacity: parent, teacher, social worker, children's panel (Scotland) etc. The second part of the book deals with the murder trial of an 11 year old boy and brings back to mind the tragic and horrific events involving real cases in recent years. It is , indeed, the most thought-provoking book I have read for a long time, and raises once again the question of the age of criminal responsibility and the appropriateness of methods used to deal with child offenders, both in the past and in the light of changes made in recent years. The graphic description of the trial is enthralling, as moving and as full of suspense as American novels such as 'The Runaway Jury'. The writer shows great sensitivity in dealing with the feelings and emotions, not only of the child himself, who displays all the symptoms associated with Asperger's Syndrome, but also the confused emotions of the boy's lawyer, whose own disruptive childhood and chaotic life-style as he grew from boyhood to manhood is skilfully contrasted throughout the story.
In my opinion, this is a classic. The theme is guilt. And the contrast between the way in which this emotion develops in a 'normal' person who has been through the mill and experienced the 'slings and arrows of outrageous fortune' and someone on the lower end of the autistic syndrome who is incapable of empathising with anyone, provides a structure which puts it on a par with the best novels of th first part of this century.
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VINE VOICEon 30 April 2014
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
From a sinister beginning, this haunting novel explores the solicitor Danny’s personality vs. the backdrop of young Sebastian accused of murder. There seems to be some commonality in the nature of their relationships with others.

Danny’s character is well defined, but I didn’t warm to him. His intolerance and inability to cope with difficult situations, resulting in frightening outbursts of rage, irritated me. Yes, a damaged person psychologically from his terrible experiences as a boy, but he constantly resorts to maladaptive behaviours with his acting out and violent tantrums. He will not assume responsibility for his own actions and their consequences, and certainly as a teenager, has little sense of empathy. A young man in need of therapy.

As the plot develops it is abundantly clear Danny should not be acting in the defence of Sebastian. His unresolved personal issues are in direct conflict here. He should have recognised this, and not taken up the case. It is as if he is trying to sort out his own issues through a third party, which is dangerous. As a consequence, there is a very unhealthy identification where some professional boundaries are almost breached. Danny is indeed the “Guilty One”.

The novel started to lose momentum about ¾ through, with the start of the court case. For me, it was as if the important stuff had already been written, with a sprint towards the ending. I felt as if a different author was writing, drawn out and rather weak at some points. The description of the court trial was protracted, predictable, somewhat clichéd, with little tension, hence a final 3 stars, not 4.
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