Over the last week or so I've been reading The Guilty One - my fifth book so far in 2013.
I've just finished it, laying in bed on a lazy Sunday, with the grey skies and cold and wet outside my window. The view outside aptly matches my mood.
This book has left me feeling down, a result I believe somewhat intended by the author.
Ballantyne's fictional tale features young, accused murderer Sebastian and troubled, confused solicitor Daniel.
The story alternates each chapter between the present day court case and Daniel's life as an adult and the past when Daniel was growing up.
Having a troubled childhood Daniel relates to young Sebastian and his odd ways/not so simple background, but is he trying to save this boy in a bid to settle issues with his own past?
It takes the whole book to cover the court case, I of course won't reveal the outcome or the ending.
The book packs some punchy shocks to the reader and often left me feeling uncomfortable - vivid descriptions of how the victim Ben's body was found and what had been done to it. Although I found the strong descriptions and details from the expert characters helped add to the authenticity of the story.
The title itself is a clever one - suggesting someone is guilty, but who? As you read on in the book it becomes clear many of the characters in this tale are guilty of something.
What I found hard to overcome at first was the fact the name of the murdered little boy matched that of a nephew/son of some people I know and it chilled me reading that name on the page.
In addition, you can't help but build comparisons between The Guilty One and the real life story of James Bulger, which again I found tough as it's a story that has upset and angered me over the years.
Powerful impact on the reader
Not so great
Some things felt left unfinished
The story can bring you down, it's not pleasant subject matter
At the end you may find yourself feeling frustrated and emotionally a tad drained
Overall I would recommend this book as one to read. Although I'm not sure those with children would find it comfortable reading...