Today I’m happy to be the last stop on the BlogTour for Guilty Innocence by Maggie James.
About this book…
When Natalie snoops through her boyfriend Mark’s possessions she finds more than she bargained for. Mark was once convicted of a brutal killing. Heartbroken by what she has discovered, Natalie’s dreams of a future with him collapse.
However, Mark was not the only person sentenced for the murder of two-year-old Abby Morgan. His former friend, the violent and twisted Adam Campbell, was also convicted and Adam knows more about the murder than he will admit.
When circumstances thrust Mark back in contact with Adam, the past comes back to haunt him. Can Mark ever break free from Adam? Will the truth ever come out?
I actually first read this book back in 2014 and found it quite a harrowing read. So how would I feel reading it again knowing what was going to happen? And the answer is that it was STILL a very difficult book to read due to the subject matter that the plot revolves around. Time hasn’t softened the direct and hard hitting narrative and I certainly haven’t become desensitised to the issues raised here even though I have read many books of a similar nature since.
When Natalie finds the letter in her boyfriend’s belongings it doesn’t take long for her to put two and two together and definitely get four! And as before half of me wondered whether or not he was hoping for her to discover the truth before they got too serious and he invested in a relationship that could come crashing down at any time. Unfortunately, Natalie is also about to have her own nightmares brought to the surface when she confronts Mark about his past.
But for me, I was on edge right from the start knowing that the murder of a small child was coming up. And although not graphically described, it is a violent and sustained attack on an innocent 2 year old girl. Of course people will raise comparisons with a very high profile murder case back in the Nineties and there is definitely a familiar feel to the circumstances. But Maggie James has given her crime a familiar starting point from which she has then layered her own story and possibilities surrounding such an abhorrent murder by two 11 year old boys.
The plot here is hard hitting with a few twists you won’t see coming. I did get frustrated with some of the characters especially Mark and Natalie as they could have made things so much easier for themselves but that’s life I suppose, hindsight is a wonderful thing! And I found myself questioning again what makes people evil enough to act in such a way? Are psychopaths born or does the way we are raised in our formative years mould our future behaviours and relationships? And can it ever be reversed and a murderer ever feel true remorse for what they have done? All this was going through my head as I watch the early relationship between Mark and Adam and compared it to the grown men they had become.
I read a similar book recently and have to say that I much preferred this book mainly due to the authors approach to the horrendous things that happen here. She doesn’t shy away from using terrifyingly realistic situations but in such a way for us to work through our own fears. Her use of other issues such as rape, self harm and body shaming could cause triggers in some readers but are once again used as an integral part of the plot. Although this book had a very dark and disturbing premise and I did find it very upsetting at times, it was never gratuitous in its exploration of human nature at its worst. A tough read but worth it.
Many thanks to the publisher Bloodhound Books for my advanced review copy of Guilty Innocence: a chilling psychological thriller which is available to purchase now.