GUILTY, BY LAURA ELLIOT
PUBLICATION: BOOKOUTURE; JUNE 22, 2017
About the book:
It begins with a phone call. It ends with a missing child.
On a warm summer’s morning, thirteen-year-old schoolgirl Constance Lawson is reported missing.
A few days later, Constance’s uncle, Karl Lawson, suddenly finds himself swept up in a media frenzy created by journalist Amanda Bowe implying that he is the prime suspect.
Six years later …
Karl’s life is in ruins. His marriage is over, his family destroyed. But the woman who took everything away from him is thriving. With a successful career, husband and a gorgeous baby boy, Amanda’s world is complete. Until the day she receives a phone call and in a heartbeat, she is plunged into every mother’s worst nightmare.
An utterly compelling psychological thriller that will keep you guessing until the very last page. Perfect for fans of The Girl on the Train, Gone Girl, and Sarah A. Denzil’s Silent Child.
I have been so excited to read Guilty, the upcoming novel from talented author Laura Elliot. The novel is divided into four parts at different points in the characters’ lives. The primary focus of each part is Karl Lawson, uncle of Connie Lawson that goes missing and/or Amanda Bowe, tabloid reporter. I don’t want to give spoilers so I’m trying to word this carefully, but Karl’s wonderful life is basically ruined after his niece’s disappearance, mainly due to Amanda Bowe’s accusatory journalism and the way in which she targeted Karl during the investigation. As the novel progresses we see Karl’s life unravel, Amanda’s life get better and better, Karl’s life get better, and Amanda’s life unravel.
My challenge in writing this review is that the first part was wonderful, the second part was o.k., but then things were odd in parts three and four. There were wonderfully suspenseful moments in parts three and four, but it was nothing compared to the first two parts.
Although I didn’t like the character of Amanda in the least, the author developed her perfectly, creating a fabulous villain as the nosy, pushy reporter. Karma is very unkind to Amanda, although I felt her later suffering was deserved.
I liked Karl from the beginning, despite some poor judgement on his part. However, as the novel progresses he just gets too weird. I was unable to identify with him at all as the anger and resentment took over his life, and he also became flat-out strange, in my opinion. Where he seemed a well-developed complex character in parts one and two, his character was flat for the remainder of the novel. I did sympathize with him for several reasons, however, and found it unfortunate that when things started getting better, he was still so focused on revenge.
Guilty addresses several important themes involving trust, faith in people, and how easily society is influenced by the media. Regardless of how unbelievable or awful, the author demonstrated how quickly seeds can be planted in the mind and how it can spread like wildfire. Remorse, or lack thereof, is also addressed repeatedly throughout the novel, which made me want to ask Amanda’s character several times, “karma sucks doesn’t it?”
Overall I enjoyed this novel, but the disconnect and odd shifts throughout the parts of this novel made it difficult for me to love it. It began with suspenseful momentum, but spiralled downward after that.
*thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.