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46 of 48 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ABSORBING AND CHILLING READ
I was hooked from page one, this is an outstandingly easy to read well written book that as well as being a
cracking story raises some serious issues which really does leave you wondering is anything as it
really seems.

The story revolves around Sebastian who is eleven years old who is accused of murdering little
Ben Stokes who is eight years old...
Published on 15 Aug 2012 by Mrs. C. Swarfield

versus
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Nothing special
Eight year old Ben is found brutally murdered in a playground, eleven year old Sebastian is charged with his murder; the main character, however, is Daniel, Sebastian's solicitor. Daniel had a troubled, often violent, childhood; his drug addict mother was unable to look after him so Daniel was often in care. Last in a long line of foster mothers was Minnie Flynn, who...
Published 23 months ago by Jood


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4.0 out of 5 stars I liked this book and the stories running alongside each other, 9 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Guilty One (Kindle Edition)
I liked this book and the stories running alongside each other. It left you hanging on until the end for the outcome
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 'I just want you to trust me. I'm on your side.', 4 Sep 2012
By 
L. H. Healy "Books are life, beauty and truth." (Cambridgeshire, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Guilty One (Paperback)
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Daniel Hunter has been working in London as a solicitor defending clients, including juveniles, for several years. One day, an eight-year-old boy, Ben Stokes, is found dead in a children's playground, and Daniel is assigned the case of defending Sebastian Croll, the eleven-year-old boy who is accused of murdering Ben. Daniel begins to find out more about Sebastian, his parents and his home life, and this causes him to start thinking back to his own experiences in foster care after his own mother let him down. Most of all, he thinks about Minnie, the woman he went to live with, who adopted him, cared for him and loved him, but who he believes betrayed him, and hurt him so much that he hasn't wanted anything to do with her for the past fifteen years. Daniel starts to see similarities between him younger self and Sebastian, making this case his most difficult one yet.

'Watching the doors close on Sebastian, Daniel heard his own childhood cries in the boy's desperate please. He remembered being Sebastian's age. He had been troubled. He had been capable of violence. What was it that had saved him from this fate?'

Minnie is a wonderful character, she felt ever so real to me, I could imagine her quite vividly from the way she is depicted. She has her own demons, and Daniel is like a second chance for her. Having adopted him, she loves him as her own son. She cares deeply about the young Daniel, wants to give him the opportunity for a really good life, and is able to adapt and deal with his bad behaviour, surprising him by her patient reactions, educating him about love and trust, and slowly giving him the confidence and stability to become a successful young man. In so doing, she always acts in what she believes is his best interest, but one decision she makes will irreparably damage her future relationship with him. I found the sections involving the two of them gripping and convincing, and the author creates a great dynamic between the two.

There are real-life criminal cases which this story will inevitably bring to mind for readers in the UK, depicting as it does the alleged killing of a young boy by another young boy. In the story, the author calls into question the treatment of juveniles in the criminal justice system in the UK, and raises comparisons to other countries in Europe. She also touches on the media sensationalism that can accompany coverage of such crimes.

The theme of guilt, and of who is guilty, raised in the title of the novel, runs throughout, and a degree of guilt could be attributed to several of the characters here as the story unfolds.

The most compelling aspects of the novel for me were the touching relationship between Minnie and Daniel when he was younger, how this evolved, and then the court case itself. I felt that Daniel's story was far more compelling actually than that of Sebastian, perhaps due to the fact that Daniel's backstory and childhood recollections, together with the observations of how he is now as a man, give us a much fuller, rounder picture of him, and how he came to be a solicitor, and we learn a lot less about Sebastian in comparison.

The structure of the narrative sees the two strands of the story running parallel to each other, with alternating chapters devoted to Daniel's past, and to his present and the case involving Sebastian. This structure works really well here, as Daniel sees aspects of himself in Sebastian, and the reader learns more about Daniel then and now, and we can observe how his understanding of himself and his past develops as the case involving Sebastian progresses, and also begin to question whether his memories of himself are clouding his judgment now. 'His mind was a confusion of recent and distant memories.'

I found this a very addictive read, a complete and utter page-turner that I wanted to get back to whenever I'd had to put it down, and I read it over a couple of days. It certainly has all the ingredients of a gripping read, and the author builds character and suspense very well indeed, so that as we reach the stage of the court case, and the turning point in the relationship between Daniel and his new mum Minnie, I found myself even more eager to read on. I guessed at what had happened regarding Minnie and Daniel, which is possible to do if you've been reading the novel carefully prior to this. It became more of a matter of why, than of what, with regards to the event which had separated him from her. I felt the quality of the writing, starting quite simply, got better as the novel progressed, and all in all this is a very promising debut work.

4.5 stars
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 10 Oct 2014
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very well written - keeps you guessing right until th end
a must for any book club
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5.0 out of 5 stars Keeps you gripped!, 8 Oct 2014
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Half way through this and I can't put it down. A great read for my book club.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 31 July 2014
By 
Mrs. V. A. Bingham "california" (kinver england) - See all my reviews
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wonderful sensitive author, very talented wish she would write another
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Guilty One, 20 Jan 2013
By 
EssexReader (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Guilty One (Paperback)
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As a debut novel, this was very good but I found it a bleak and uneasy read - however this is probably more to do with the subject matter than the quality of the writing.

Despite very poor beginnings, Daniel Hunter has made a success of his life. He is a successful solicitor who has spent his professional life defending the kind of people who most people would not have time for. One day he is asked to represent Sebastian, an 11 year old boy suspected of murdering a younger child. Sebastian's family life strikes a cord with Daniel and the book then takes the reader on a journey back to Daniel's childhood - the bad times with his unstable mother and her various boyfriends and then through his life with Minnie, a widow who fostered him and gave him love and the chance of a better life.

Through most of the book, the reader is wondering what Minnie has done to make Daniel hate her enough to cut her out of his life after all she has done for him. Nearer to the end, we find out. I have to admit that I think Daniel's anger towards Minnie was particularly harsh in the circumstances and didn't seem to quite fit in with his character's belief of everybody deserving a defence.

In my opinion, the story centred in too much detail on Daniel`s past and I would have liked to have known more about Sebastian. I felt his story was glossed over just a little too much.

There are criticisms during the story of how children and young offenders in the UK are treated by the justice system in comparison with some other European countries - I found some text quite political however it does raise some issues worth further consideration.

This wasn't a book that I can say I `enjoyed' reading, although I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read it. I would read more from this author in future.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 17 Dec 2012
By 
D. P. Mankin (Ceredigion, Wales) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Guilty One (Paperback)
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This is a well written novel with a gripping plot and believable charaters. In fact convincing characterisation is one of the pivotal strengths of this book. I don't often use phrases such as 'gripping' and 'emotionally intense' but these can be applied to The Guilty One. The narrative thrust is handled superbly by Laura Ballantyne. This is a great read. Highly recommended for anyone (especially if you're embarking on a long flight and want a guaranteed quality read to pass the time).
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, 12 Dec 2012
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A great story....loved the characters. I bought this as it won one of Richard & Judys book club lists .... A worthy winner.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, and ultimately shocking., 24 Nov 2012
By 
C Saunders "Kris24" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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A very well written story - I was gripped from the start by the story line and the credibility of the characters - I gasped out loud at the end of the story - an excellent read with very well thought out happenings and people. Totally believable.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More than one "Guilty One"?, 14 July 2012
This review is from: The Guilty One (Paperback)
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Lisa Ballantyne's first novel, The Guilty One, was a really enjoyable book to read. It evolves around Sebastian, an 11 year old boy accused of murdering an 8 year old boy called Ben Stokes, and Daniel the Solicitor hired to help defend his case. The story cleverly switches between Sebastian's family life, the day of the murder, and the childhood of Daniel himself.

Sebastian's family life certainly explains why Sebastian behaves the way he does. His mother is quite neurotic and his father is hardly in Sebastian's life, as he spends a considerable amount of time in Hong Kong. The novel also illustrates, how Daniel's life was far from being perfect. He was a tearaway child, whose mother was a drug addict and as a result he was eventually put into care. Daniel, because of his bad behaviour, was continuously being moved from one foster home to another. Until that is, he was adopted by Minnie, a loveable character who owned a small farm, and earned what little money she had by selling her produce at the local market. The dynamics between Daniel and Minnie was brilliantly portrayed in the novel.

This book is such an easy book to read and flows between the present and the past beautifully. I think it is very well written, interesting and believable. A few months ago I read The Child Who, by Simon Lelic, which also tells of a child murderer, and I rated that book lower because I felt it was very disjointed. The Guilty One is far from being disjointed, Lisa Ballantyne's style of writing, in my opinion, flows from one event to the other so easily and her descriptions of the characters is such that one can almost picture them.

As for who is "The Guilty One", well, I felt there was definitely more than one person. Brilliant read, highly recommended, definitely 4.5 stars for me..
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The Guilty One
The Guilty One by Lisa Ballantyne (Paperback - 30 Aug 2012)
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