Title: The Guilty Party
Author: Mel McGrath
Publisher: HarperCollins UK
On a night out, four friends witness a stranger in trouble. They decide to do nothing to help.
Later, a body washes up on the banks of the Thames – and the group realises that ignoring the woman has left blood on their hands.
But why did each of them refuse to step in? Why did none of them want to be noticed that night? Who is really responsible? And is it possible that the victim was not really a stranger at all?
I absolutely loved this cleverly plotted novel which kept me guessing throughout and featured some memorable – if not hugely likeable – characters! Bound tightly by ‘friendship’ (though author Mel McGrath definitely makes the reader start to wonder quite how much they really care about eachother.
I love the premise – that four friends witness a shocking crime one evening, but all – for reasons yet to be unearthed – unspeakingly decide to turn a blind eye. What follows is an excellently absorbing unpicking of the reasons why each person might not have wanted to draw attention to this occurrence by trying to intervene, or by calling the police. The story switches between characters, letting us delve into their lives and find out just how awful a person they are. And I have to say, these are some really unlikable characters. McGrath doesn’t even try to create much of a likable edge to them, to encourage the reader to warm to them. I’m glad about this – I like an imperfect character much more than someone who is strongly painted as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Main narrator Cassie definitely has more of a softer edge to her, and she at least seems to care in some way about what’s happened, but she herself is not perfect, and I’m glad about this. Her three friends – Anna, Bo and Rex – well, I’ll leave you to draw your own opinions about them but none of them are people I’d want to admit are my friends! For some, the lack of likability in the main characters might put them off, but I felt it just made the plot more believable than it would be if they were all nicer characters.
The plot is so much fun to work through; it ebbs and flows at times, going from fast paced and shocking as things ‘happen’, to a bit of a slower pace whilst it focuses more on character development. It hops back and forwards in time a lot, so I found that I really needed to pay attention to the date and also the time at the beginning of each chapter (something I usually skim past), and by doing this I didn’t get too confused! If you’re not a fan of books that do this… well, read this anyway as it’s worth it! I was hooked throughout every page!
The different threads that The Guilty Party weaves together as the story continues slowly come together to build a better picture of what really happened in the lead up to the night in question, and left me wishing this novel could go on far longer! Brilliant reading – Mel McGrath is definitely an author I will be closely following, excitedly waiting for any new releases!
Many thanks to HarperCollins UK for providing a copy of this book on which I chose to write an honest and unbiased review.