The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath is a mystery that left me curious until the very end. A psychological paradise of a thriller that captures people at their very worst, right when they realise their lives are at stake. These people did nothing. But that doesn’t mean they’re innocent…
Four friends are returning from a festival, and they see a woman being raped in the forest. They all decide to do nothing about it. A few days later, her body is found in the river. Are they guilty for not doing anything? If it was you, what would you have done?
The story of The Guilty Party begins with the event mentioned above. The plot opens straight ahead, and I loved that fact. We witness the story through the eyes of all these four friends. They have always been together and stood for one another, but after so many years, their friendship has turned into a group of frenemies, a group of proving to each other, lying all the time and negative emotions.
Because nothing is straightforward, least of all the human heart. At some point or other, we all become mysteries to ourselves.
Even though we get to see through the lives of Anna, Bo and Dex, Cassie is the one member of this group that gets the most exposure in this book. She is the one that seems to feel the most guilty about not doing anything to intervene that night, and she is the one that keeps bringing this subject to her friends, even though they refuse to listen. Cassie is the most reasonable one, but this seems to bring her into more trouble. The more she pushes the group, the more she realises how capable they are of stopping her from sharing their secret.
Anna is the person that leads the group. She seems to control everyone and everything, and they all seem to obey her and be fine with this. She comes out as this controlling and annoying person, the one hard to ignore or say no to. But when she feels threatened and scared, she is prepared to do anything.
Bo and Dex, for me, didn’t have much direct impact to the story, except one of them right at the very end. They seem to have snuck out throughout the book quietly, without any direct noice, but leaving a mess behind them.
We have four characters, all different and unique, all really complicated, with their own thoughts and lives. And we have one evening, and all their actions indirectly result in this girl’s death. None of them killed her, but all of them are guilty. They all have their own secrets, that they don’t tell to anyone, and they all are ready to go until the very end, keeping their secrets safe.
I loved how the plot and what actually happened on the nights slowly reveals itself, where we have two parallels happening – one from the night of the incident, and from everyone’s perspective, and one from around a month later, when they gather around together for a weekend. The chapters were so well made that made you keep going, and right when you think you know something, you get another point of view with a bit more information and another plot twist. Very smart and enjoyable to read.
And even though a mystery, and a thriller, this book was also hilarious and made me laugh out loud at times. Needless to say anything, I will let you read the quote below and judge for yourselves. This quote was so unexpected and I think it highlighted my year so far… Amazing!
Ink Man’s real name is Jake but for the purposes of sex he likes to be called Gandalf. Really. Being Gandalf is what turns him on. That and the ink of Middle Earth on his back.
I really enjoyed The Guilty Party, and I am looking forward to reading more books from Mel McGrath. A huge thank you to HQ Publishers, and Joe Thomas for sending me a hardback copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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