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The Guilty One

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  3,377 ratings  ·  429 reviews
An eight-year-old boy is found dead in a playground . . . and his eleven-year-old neighbor is accused of the crime. Leading the defense is London solicitor Daniel Hunter, a champion of lost causes.

A damaged boy from a troubled home, Daniel's young client, Sebastian, reminds Daniel of his own turbulent childhood--and of Minnie, the devoted woman whose love saved him. But on
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Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 19th 2013 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published 2012)
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Community Reviews

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Will Byrnes
UPDATE - 3/16/13 - see link at bottom

In London’s very gentrified neighborhood of Islington an eight-year-old boy is murdered in a playground. The suspect is slight, eleven-year-old, Sebastian Croll, a friend of the victim. Seb is an odd sort, removed, serene in the presence of danger and pressure, until, that is, he breaks down and tosses tantrums that any three-year-old would find to be fine examples of the art. His home life leaves much to be desired, with a dodgy, self-medicating mom and an a
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Lisa Beaulieu
So, a bad and boring book? No big deal, right, there's plenty of them. But what annoyed me greatly was that the book seems like it is going to be interesting, a look at damaged children, damaged relationships, and how people recover. Told in alternating chapters, one dealing with a defense lawyer for a young murder suspect - 11 years old - in the present day, the other reminiscing about his own troubled life at 11, for a long time the story seems like it is going somewhere. Then, you start to no ...more
Dale Harcombe
I found this an engrossing read. It tells the story of a Sebastian, an 11 year old boy up on charges of murdering an 8 year old boy. Daniel, his lawyer, relates to the boy when he takes on the case. So the reader also gets the story of Daniel, his life as a foster child and his time with Minnie the foster mother who later adopted him and from whom he ended up estranged. The reason for this is not explained until fairly late in the book but I didn’t think there was any surprise about it.
As you r
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Skip
Thanks to Will Byrnes, and my other GR friends, who all rated this 5 stars. It reminded me of The Boy Who Could See Demons, but was significantly better. 11-year old Sebastian is arrested for the killing of 8-year old Ben on a playground, but there are no witnesses. Solicitor Daniel Hunter is assigned to defend him, and feels strong empathy with the accused, who likewise harkens from a broken family. Daniel's own story is probably more interesting than the trial as he was a difficult boy, prone ...more
Tania
Daniel swallowed. "If nobody else wants me, do I get to stay here then?"

An easy-reading, yet sometimes poignant, book. I enjoyed the dual storyline, especially the fact that they read as two different genres. I definitely preferred Daniel's coming of age story, I even shed a few tears for this lost little boy. I thought the suspense story was a bit predictable, and was hoping for a more inventive ending.

The story: A little boy was found dead in a children's playground...Daniel Hunter has spent
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Tony
THE GUILTY ONE. (2013). Lisa Ballantyne. ***.
No matter how well written, a boring story is still a boring story. This first novel by a young woman from Scotland is just one of those. Using alternative chapters to tell the stories of both a young boy accused of murdering an eight-year old boy, and his defense solicitor. The murder suspect was eleven years old. He was seen fighting with the younger boy in a park, and the blood of the younger boy was found on his shoes and clothes. This boy, Sebast
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VaultOfBooks
By Lisa Ballantyne. Grade: C
A little boy was found dead in a children’s playground…Daniel Hunter has spent years defending lost causes as a solicitor in London. But his life changes when he is introduced to Sebastian, an eleven-year-old accused of murdering an innocent young boy. As he plunges into the muddy depths of Sebastian’s troubled home life, Daniel thinks back to his own childhood in foster care – and to Minnie, the woman whose love saved him, until she, too, betrayed him so badly that h
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Lori L (She Treads Softly)
In The Guilty One, Lisa Ballantyne's debut novel, eleven-year-old Sebastian Croll is accused of killing an eight-year-old neighbor. Daniel Hunter is his assigned solicitor for the defense. While trying to defend Sebastian, Daniel reflects on his own very troubled childhood. The case coincides with the death of Minnie, the woman who was Daniel's foster parent and who later adopted him.

Daniel had cut off all contact with Minnie, but the trial and Minnie's death has made Daniel introspective - pon
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The-vault
By Lisa Ballantyne. Grade: C
A little boy was found dead in a children’s playground…Daniel Hunter has spent years defending lost causes as a solicitor in London. But his life changes when he is introduced to Sebastian, an eleven-year-old accused of murdering an innocent young boy. As he plunges into the muddy depths of Sebastian’s troubled home life, Daniel thinks back to his own childhood in foster care – and to Minnie, the woman whose love saved him, until she, too, betrayed him so badly that h
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Michael
Daniel Hunter has spent his whole working life as a solicitor defending young accused. But when he takes on the case of an eleven year old boy Sebastian who is placed on trial for murder he will be forced to confront his past. Daniel had a troubled upbringing, one that comes back to him when he finds out that his adopted mother Minnie has died. Daniel hasn't spoken or seen Minnie for many years after being betrayed by her something overtime he feels guilt for.

The story will go back and fourth fr
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Chris Witkowski
Billed as a mystery, this is really a haunting and sad case study of two very damaged young boys. The protagonist, Daniel, is a solicitor assigned to defend eleven year Sebastian, a creepily precocious boy who has been accused of brutally murdering his much younger playmate Ben. The case comes at the same time that Daniel learns of the death of the kind and generous Minnie, the woman who basically saved his life so many years ago when she adopted him.

The novel is really more the story of Daniel
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Kelly Hager
On the surface, this looks like a legal thriller (and a really excellent one). And don't get me wrong, that aspect is definitely there. But it's so much more than that. Alternating with the chapters of the prep work for and trial itself are ones showing how Daniel became who he is now. It's important to know that going in, because if you expect something that's, say, John Grisham, you'll be disappointed.

While you'd think that he'd have a lot in common with Sebastian because he's a successful law
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Carol
”A little boy was found dead in Barnard Park.
This simple sentence is telling. Daniel, an attorney finds himself the man, the protector, who will defend another little boy, Sebastian Croll who is the accused of the victim’s death. Sebastian is a clever, boy, but not much liked by his peers or their parents who see him as a bully. Daniel
immediately forms a bond with Sebastian. He’s not quite certain why but it may be “there but for the grace of God, goes I”. Daniel’s chance in life came in foster
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Ruth Turner

Told in alternating chapters is the story of young Sebastian who is accused of killing his eight year old friend, and his lawyer Daniel's life with his adoptive mother.

Easy to read with likable characters for the most part.

No outstanding twists and turns, but enjoyable.

Stefanie
Absolutely loved this book. It presents itself as a legal thriller, but the story line involving a young boy accused of murdering another child is actually a subplot. The main story is that of Daniel, a successful attorney (yes, of course, he is defending the accused child) with a painful childhood tale, and his personal journey to reconcile the loss of his biological and adoptive mothers. The author brings Daniel's youth to life in such a way that I felt as if I were witnessing it, and my heart ...more
Cindy
There was so much at play in this book, so many themes discussed, within two different time frames. Within one, you witness this sad, lost little boy, struggling with the abandonment of his mother, with the loss of control in his life, and with residual anger issues. Daniel, as a child, had much to contend with when his mother continued to bring violent men and drugs into his life. When he meets Minnie, foster/adoptive mother, he finds love, warmth, security, redemption and, in finding it, offer ...more
Victoria
This book wasn’t quite what I expected. Though a murder plot runs through the heart of it, this is much more of a character-driven story than a mystery novel. While certainly engaging, nearly every element of the plot is shockingly easy to see coming. Nothing unpredictable happens at all. Still, the novel flows quickly and the pages easily turn. Daniel is the central focus of the novel, and the story flits back and forth between his present as a solicitor for an eleven-year-old boy accused of mu ...more
Susan
I sure hated to come to the end of this book. It is not a thriller, it is not even a novel of suspense. It is really better than all that. It is a wonderful story with wonderfully developed characters. I fell in love with Minnie and ached for Daniel. Yes it is a story of a child killing a younger child, but that story is secondary to Daniel's story. Daniel is the solicitor defending Seb who is on trial for murder. Seb's story is interesting. However, it is Daniel's story that is most compelling. ...more
Melissa Rochelle
I didn't love this book. I barely liked it. It was definitely just OK. The story goes back and forth between Daniel Hunter as an adult and Daniel Hunter as a child/young man. As an adult he's the lawyer for a little boy accused of murdering another little boy. As a child he's in the foster care system because his mom has drug issues.

I was never sure if the "mystery" of the story was whether or not Sebastian murdered the other little boy or if it was trying to figure out why Daniel stopped talki
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Laura
This debut novel is not a thriller. It is not a police procedural. I read reviews after having read this book in a day that angered me because of their lack of appreciation for what this book is...a beautifully crafted tale of human nature which leads us to examine the various shades of right and wrong in relationship. Forgiveness of self and others. The difference between good and evil. The characters are engaging. You want to know them. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and I couldn't wait to see ...more
Laura
This is a very good read with quite a disturbing twist at the end. It is well written and well paced. I really enjoyed the childhood flashbacks. I recommend this book!

First Reads win! Thank you!
Joanne
This is an incredible first novel, that had me reading late into the night and sneaking an extra chapter or two if I woke in the night. And it is a book that stays with you, playing around in your mind after you have finished it.

The Guilty One tells two stories, in alternate chapters, with Daniel Hunter at the heart of both. In one, he is a troubled young boy, in and out of foster care and eventually put up for adoption after his drug addict mother was deemed incapable of looking after him. In
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Patty
The Guilty One
By
Lisa Ballantyne

My " in a nutshell" summary...

A little boy is murdered...most likely by another little boy. The circumstances bring back memories of the totally dysfunctional childhood of the attorney defending the little boy accused of this crime.

My thoughts after reading this book...

I've just finished the last few pages...even reading the author's thank you's to her early readers for their positive criticisms...and my thoughts are saying what an amazing book this is. I haven't f
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Kathleen
The Guilty One comprises two stories involving Daniel Hunter, a London barrister who has made it big in the legal profession after surviving a troubled childhood, and the murder case in which he is defending a child. Hunter's mother was a drug addict, and he never knew his father. He was in and out of foster homes until he was eventually adopted, but he rejected his adoptive mother when he was at university, and they had not spoken in years. He attends her funeral at the time when he has just ta ...more
Lynn
Mesmerizing tale of a London solicitor, Daniel Hunter, orphaned in childhood, adopted by his foster mother, who has had anger issues throughout his life.

He's now on the defense team for an Sebastian Croll, 11-year-old boy accused of murdering an 8-year-old neighbor.

The prosecution's opening statement:

"William Butler Yeats once wrote that the 'innocent and the beautiful have no enemy but time'. Ben Stokes was innocent and he was beautiful. He was a beautiful 8-year-old boy.

"He should have had the
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Susan
A little boy was found dead in a children's playground...Daniel Hunter has spent years defending lost causes as a solicitor in London. But his life changes when he is introduced to Sebastian, an eleven-year-old accused of murdering an innocent young boy. As he plunges into the muddy depths of Sebastian's troubled home life, Daniel thinks back to his own childhood in foster care - and to Minnie, the woman who adopted him and whose love saved him, until she, too, betrayed him so badly that he cut ...more
Ethan
Daniel Hunter is no stranger to seemingly lost causes. In fact, there was a time, not to long ago, when he himself was seen as a lost cause. His mother was a junkie, so he spent most of his childhood dependent upon the state to place him in proper care. He always felt a constant need to look after his mother, even sacrificing his own needs for her benefit.

But then he went to live with Minnie. At first, he treated her like all the other foster parents, eager to leave and return to his mother. Bu
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Marja Paffen-wetzels
Het verhaal gaat over de jongen Sebastian van 11 jaar die verdacht wordt van de moord op zijn 9 jarig vriendje . Daniël Hunter ,de advocaat van de jongen blikt tijdens zijn verdediging van Sebastan terug op zijn eigen ongelukkige jeugd.Zijn moeder was verslaafd en hij wordt via jeugdzorg geplaatst bij Minnie die hem naderhand adopteert. Ook Minnie heeft een moeilijke tijd gehad met haar gezin en leeft nu eenzaam op het platteland . In de beginperiode gaat de band tussen Minnie en Daniël moeizaam ...more
Emma Murphy
Wow, wow, wow, what an amazing novel! A young child has been murdered in a playground, with a slightly older boy accused and eventually charged with his murder. This story explores the childhood of the lawyer, Daniel, who was brought up in the care system, causing problems until he found a saviour who loved him for being him, and encourageed him in ways he never thought possible. The reason Daniel takes the case of the accused boy on is because he sees himself in the boy.
This is an immense novel
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Aunty Janet
Wow, just wow!
Gripped me to the last word and I was sorry when it ended.
Daniel is a solicitor defending an 11 year old boy accused of murdering a younger child. The boy has a disconcerting awareness and attitude to life which affects Daniel deeply due to his own unconventional past.
The chapters switch between the present and Daniel's childhood and teenage years which were mostly spent with his foster mother Minnie. The chapters flow without jarring or confusing the reader, showing parallels and
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Lisa Ballantyne was born in Armadale, West Lothian, Scotland and studied English literature at University of St Andrews. She lived and worked in China for many years and started writing seriously while she was there. She now lives in Glasgow.

The Guilty One published to critical and commercial acclaim in 2012. Redemption Road is Lisa's second novel.
More about Lisa Ballantyne...
Redemption Road The Best Mystery & Thriller Books: Excerpts from New and Upcoming Titles from the Best Mystery and Thriller Authors in the Genre

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“In life most things that frighten us are to do with our own heart and its flaws. You’ll always be afraid of some things—never free from fear itself. But that’s all right. Fear’s like pain, it’s there in your life to teach you about yourself.” 1 likes
“He was never long between women. It was after the thrill had passed and the intimacy became real that he found it difficult. He didn’t like talking about his past and he didn’t trust promises.” 0 likes
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