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Review by Suze
Constance Lawson, a thirteen-year-old girl, is missing. Nobody knows where she is and crime journalist Amanda Bowe insinuates that Constance's uncle Karl has something to do with her disappearance. Karl is being arrested and loses everything he holds dear. His marriage is over, his daughter is being taken away from him, because she moves to another country with her mother, he's being fired from his job and his house is being repossessed by the bank, all of this because of the suggestive words of a vindictive journalist.
After Constance's case Amanda's star keeps rising. She has a successful career as a television host, she's married to a rich man and they have a little boy together. She has everything she could possibly want, but she still isn't satisfied. Amanda knows she has enemies, however, she doesn't count on them ruining her life completely. She receives a phone call that changes her world forever. Is it a coincidence or does it have something to do with a case she worked on many years ago?
Guilty is a gripping page-turner. Karl is a cheerful man who loves his niece like a daughter. When she disappears he doesn't only have to deal with the stress and grief that are part of such an awful situation, he's also being blamed for all of it. He's being destroyed by a journalist and there's nothing he can do to stop it. My heart ached for the friendly man who only wants to make his loved ones happy. It's heartbreaking to see how easy it is for Amanda to ruin Karl's life. Finding out what would happen to him next kept me on the edge of my seat. I read Guilty in one sitting, I couldn't put it down.
Laura Elliot has written a fantastic original story about revenge. Amanda is quite unsympathetic and selfish and it isn't easy to like her. I felt for her at the end, because she's going through a mother's worst nightmare, but I really disliked her at the same time. I loved the ambivalent feelings Guilty gave me. I like a good thought-provoking story and this book definitely falls into that category. The story is layered with a large scale of emotions like grief, indignation, powerlessness, anger, vindictiveness, defeat, confusion, fear and admiration. I loved that broad spectrum and liked the skillful way Laura Elliot manages to play with them until the very end, when everything that happened during the years the story covers comes together in a spectacular finale. Guilty is a terrific compelling story and I highly recommend this amazing book.
If you love thrillers that surprise you Guilty is an absolute must-read.
About Laura Elliot
Once, for a brief, illusionary spell when I was very small and fanciful, I believed I was a robin. I can’t remember why I decided on a robin rather than one of the other species who frequented my garden. I was probably attracted by its red breast and fearless nature – or admired its celebrity status as a Christmas card icon. I visualised myself flitting in bushes, posing against a snowy background or following furrows of freshly dug earth. I was quite upset when I discussed my metamorphosis with my mother and she, gently but firmly, insisted that I was a child, not a bird. Eventually, to prove her
point she placed me in front of a mirror and I was forced to confront my identity crisis. No wings, no redbreast; just a little girl gifted with a wild and weird imagination. Not that I had any understanding of imagination at the time―or had any inkling of the significance it would play later in my life.
Like all writers, I was an avid reader throughout my childhood. I kept a torch hidden under my pillow and, after lights out, I burrowed under the blankets, filled with an insatiable desire to reach that last page. In that warm, cocooned space I read until my eyes – or the torch battery – gave out.
In school, I was constantly in trouble for ‘day-dreaming.’ That’s what my teachers called it, though there were some who believed my pensive moods stemmed from idleness. Without any understanding of the power of imagination, I simply took it for granted that my mind should be elsewhere while my body remained trapped in a school desk. Such adventures. Such travels. Real life drifted over my head and my school reports bore witness to this fact. Nothing imaginary lurking there. I was the square peg in the round hole and have no memory of excelling in any subject. These days, when I meet friends from way back then, they tell me I used to read my poems and essays
out loud to the class. Why can’t I remember those moments?
The way I remember being a robin or, as I grew older, the imaginary ships I sailed, the magical lands I visited? Perhaps, such memories were blanked out under the force a cane or strap, used with vigour to stop my ‘day-dreaming.’ I lived in an era of corporal punishment and my teachers were convinced I would never amount to anything other than a wide-eyed- gazer-into-space.
They were right. I became a novelist.
It didn’t happen immediately. The route I took was circuitous, via motherhood and a career in journalism. The pleasure I had gained from the books I read as a child attracted me to the world of children’s fiction. Those were the first books I wrote: fantasy, adventure, gritty realism, teen lives and loves. But my characters, like my own children, were growing up and reaching towards the challenges of adulthood. I made a decision to change direction and write for an adult readership.
I’ve written six novels, Fragile Lies, Stolen Child, The Lost Sister (which sells on Amazon.com as The Prodigal Sister) The Betrayal, Sleep Sister and Guilty.
I hope to write many more novels. All I need to do is hold onto the imagination I had when I was too young to understand its power – and was unaware that it is not always necessary to have wings to fly.
I live with my husband, Sean, in the coastal town of Malahide, close to the wonderful Broadmeadow Estuary, which had featured in a number of my novels.
With Love for Books
By Laura Elliot
Writing about myself—instead of my fictitious characters—what a lovely way to start my day. Thank you ‘With Love for Books’ for inviting me to contribute to your blog. The title sums up everything I feel about books and is the reason I became a writer.
This love affair began in early childhood and continues constant to this day. When I was young, I never believed my hobby would transfer into actually writing books as I believed writers were ‘other people.’ People with enchanted lives, who lived on the crest of inspiration and imagination. I carried this belief with me into a late twenties until I lifted a pen one night, opened a note pad–and the rest is history.
I quickly realised that inspiration and imagination only play a small role in the complex and often mysterious process of writing a novel. Inspiration is the catalyst that launches me into beginning a new book. My imagination gives it flight but keeping an idea in that creative space needs so much more propulsion. It needs discipline, patience, flexibility, tenacity, a love of words, and a deep respect for the reader who will buy my book.
I must be willing to redraft entire sections of the narrative that are not working —and to abandon the lyrical passages that I love but have no function other than self-admiration. On the final draft, I must read and reread the entire manuscript until my eyes blur and the words seem to rise from the screen to mock me with the belief that I’ve just written the worst book of my life.
Writers are not known for their objectivity and my subjectivity—intensified by tiredness and the long, drawn-out process of editing and proofing—takes over at that stage. Usually, after a few days of rest, my optimism returns and I always look forward with pleasure to the release of a new book.
Real-life incidents often cause that initial flash of inspiration. It will become so distilled in the process of turning it into fiction that it’s unrecognisable by the time the book is finished. My novel Stolen Child was inspired by an incident that happened when I was a child and saw a newspaper photograph of a little girl, who had been stolen from her parents when she was three months old. Four years later, she was recovered from the woman who stole her and photographed in her mother’s arms. How terrifying, I thought. To be removed from the
woman she believed to be her mother and handed over to strangers, who were her own flash and blood. Decades later, when writing the book, I saw that photo in a newspaper’s archives and the child’s bewildered expression was exactly as I remembered.
I worked as a journalist for years and my latest novel Guilty developed as a result of my interest in the media. I wanted to explore how editorial decisions can project a story in a certain way, either through headlines, photography, or reporting facts from a particular viewpoint. The term ‘fake news’ had yet to become common usage when I began writing the book but Guilty now seems particularly relevant.
I write from about nine until four in the afternoon. My brain is mush by then so a brisk walk and coffee in the village clears my head. If something is going really well, I’ll work for a few hours at night but my best time is morning.
Addiction and passion are a dangerous combination. I often joke with my writer friends that we’re addicted to the written word. Otherwise, why would we stay in a quiet room when the sun is shining? Why, if our work is rejected, do we straighten our shoulders and put plan B
into action. Why do we subject ourselves to difficult and, sometimes, hurtful reviews yet continue to put our heads above the parapet?
I try to remain sanguine about reviews. Readers have such diverse opinions and it’s fascinating to read completely different judgements on the same book. Gone are the days when reviews were only written by literary reviewers, which was the case when my first novels were published. Nowadays, anyone who wishes to express an opinion on a writer’s work can do so through a myriad of online sites. Reviewers can bestow a one-star ranking on a writer because a book hasn’t downloaded properly onto their Kindle – or write an insightful review that will shine across a writer’s day.
It’s also proof positive that I can’t please everyone and, so, when I’m writing, I banish all thoughts about how readers will react and just get on with finishing my book.
Thank you again ‘With Love for Books’ for the delightful opportunity to appear on your blog.
Three very lucky readers of With Love For Books will receive amazing prizes. The first prize is a signed paperback copy of Guilty and a gorgeous book cover necklace, the second prize is a signed paperback copy of Guilty and the third prize is a digital copy of Guilty.
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The winner will be notified by email and has 3 days to respond. All of our giveaways are international.