A review by meggyroussel
Guilty, by Laura Elliot


I am starting to like diving into books completely blind. Not reading blurbs helps to keep an open mind on the story you start. It's not always possible, but here I jumped on the offer to take part in the blog tour at the last minute, and I do not regret this decision!

Of course, when I took a look at Guilty's cover, I was hooked. The colors, the balloon, the chimneys. A homey feeling contrasting with the taglines. A comforting and normal view threatened by chilling and ominous words. My favorite kind of covers.

I had a pretty good idea where this book was going to take me from the beginning. Relying on the events that were unfolding in front of me, I assumed it would follow a linear path up until the end except... This book has no straight path! This story is a giant hole into hell, with a dark and greasy ladder with pitfalls and spiders. Get ready for the bites!

I immediately felt for Karl. The Guilty label is so easy to get. One gesture, one misinterpreted word, one tricky situation, and the world around you turns grey. All it takes is a hint from someone. Sometimes it's innocent, sometimes it's not. The aftermath is always a disaster.

What starts as a missing child case turns into a reenacting of Salem's trials as Karl goes from the caring uncle to the prime suspect in his niece's disappearance thanks to a clever and frightening manipulation of the media. We have seen it happen. People see what they want to see, and it's in our nature to look for someone to hold responsible. I have always thought it made things more bearable to point the finger and unleash the anger on a name, a face, whenever something terrible happens. Everything happened so fast that all I could do was shake my head and watch the tailspin engulf Karl. I was shocked by the little amount of time and information it took for his life to crumble, for his family to react. It was painful, it was unfair, it raised my blood pressure and shattered a little more my already broken hope for a fair world. Communities need a scapegoat to explain the worst. The doors closing one after the other were so real I felt I was the one left in the cold with no chance of coming back.

Did fear have a smell that caught at the back of the throat and make it hard to breathe?

Suddenly I was taken years later, on the other side of the road. Amanda, a sweet name and the cunning weapon that used a family's pain and destroyed lives with her articles and innuendos, is living the life. The chapters from her perspective never ever made me warm to her, no matter how many times the brilliantly raw writing tried to give me a different perspective. I had nothing but contempt for such a character, and I am not ashamed to admit that the second part of the book was very satisfying for me. Seeing Amanda's world turn to a nightmare, with her past coming to bite her in the arse, from different angle, was a delight. I sound like a monster right now, but I do believe in karma and in getting what you deserve in the end. Those crime books are turning me into a dark person!!!

This part of the book was fiendishly well-plotted and weaved, and my confusion at the change of point of view soon became a gritty need to see a woman thrown down her pedestal. Isn't this why we buy tabloids and watch reality shows, or even the news? To see people vulnerable and pushed to their limits? We are guilty, too.

Blood was easily wiped away, especially when it was fresh, but guilt had proved impossible to eradicate.

Amanda is not a one-dimensional character and she makes for an interesting protagonist to follow, but like the crowd holding torches, I only wanted her to pay for what she had done.

The thing is we are all guilty in different ways. Guilty to be gullible, guilty with blood in our hands, guilty to use words as guns to kill the deer, guilty of lying, guilty of eating that second serving of pie, guilty of feeling, guilty of closing the door... The list could go on and on. I loved how the author used the notion of guilt and how it surrounds us, how no one is as white as an angel and how life has a way of teaching you a lesson. Even if it's your choice to learn it or not.

This story works as a mirror, the disappearance of the young Constance putting you in the middle of the action from the start, before letting you get a bit of a relief from the tension as years go by, as you wonder why things take a good turn for some and leave the worst to others, wondering about the reasons why, just to be thrown into another, oh so similar scenario, and this gut-wrenching feeling of losing it all. The distress, the pain, the questions, they all come back to haunt Amanda, and despite my contempt for her, I just had to know what happened, I wanted justice, I wanted blood, I was guilty of being high hooked on this dark and unbearable suspense.

I am guilty of having had my head turned upside down with this brilliant and entertaining story that resonates in all of us every time a terrifying headline makes it to the news. I am guilty of having loved being faced with human nature when the beauty is gone thanks to a cold, gripping, and realistic portrayal of our society and one of its biggest flaw.

I would like to thank Bookouture for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review and for letting me be a part of this blog tour.