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 the other, he is a man, a responsible and successful lawyer in London, who is representing an 11-year-old boy, Sebastian, charged with the brutal murder of an innocent 8-year-old.
As Daniel prepares the defence for Sebastian, the similarities between their upbringing – mothers with drug problems, and overbearing, dominating and abusive fathers/male partners – forces Daniel to confront thoughts of his own past. And a letter informing him of the death of Minnie, his adoptive mother who betrayed him so badly he cut her from his life for fifteen years, forces him to reflect on the loss of the only person in his life who had ever demonstrated love for him. The two stories build and develop, simultaneously, as we learn firstly how the deep relationship between Daniel and Minnie grew, and then fell apart so catastrophically, and whether Sebastian is guilty of murder.
It is an extremely well written and clever book, with some wonderful characters, most notably my favourite, Minnie. And the two stories are pulled together beautifully. I loved it.