Title: The Guilty Party
Author: Mel McGrath
Published: March 18th 2019
Publisher: HQ Fiction
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Thriller, Suspense
Rating: 3.5 stars
‘Dark, thrilling, impossible to predict’ Erin Kelly, author of He Said She Said
You did nothing. That doesn’t mean you’re innocent.
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 read somewhere that a body turns up every week in the Thames and if every one of the drowned appeared in the news there would be stories all the time. All the same, it hardly seems possible that a young woman can exit this twenty-first century world without leaving any virtual ghost of her former self.’
Toxic friendships, chances are we have been touched by these at some point in our lives. Mel McGrath’s psychological thriller, The Guilty Party takes on unfavourable friendships, moral complexities and the bystander effect. Combined with plenty of secrets from the past, along with some plot twists and turns, The Guilty Party is a book that will leave you reeling from the first to the final page.
Four friends who cemented their friendship during their university years make up The Guilty Party. The friendship group are out one night together celebrating a birthday when they are separated and they witness an awful crime. A decision is made not to report the crime, or help the victim. Instead, the group decides to ignore what happened, hoping that it will go away. Unfortunately, it doesn’t go away, and before they know it, a body surfaces. The body is identified as the victim they all chose not to help that fateful night. The Guilty Party is a book that looks at social responsibility, our moral compass and it leads us to the question as to why all four of these people chose to stand back and let a woman lose her life.
The Guilty Party is the first book I have read by Mel McGrath, who is perhaps best known for her previous work, writing under the name of MJ McGrath. McGrath’s popular crime and mystery series featuring Edie Kiglatuk has seen her earn awards, television rights and worldwide recognition. The Guilty Party is a standalone psychological thriller that poses more questions than it answers. There are plenty of grey areas in this novel. There were also moments where McGrath made me consider quite deeply how I would feel if I was placed in the same shoes as the characters in the book. A situation that I wasn’t comfortable with at all! The Guilty Party was a difficult one to pin down, it did send me in a spin, it compelled me, but it also disappointed me that people could behave in the way the characters do in this novel.
The Guilty Party is one of those novels where I feel I cannot go into any great depth to discuss, otherwise I would ruin the experience for prospective readers. I will say it is carefully plotted, it contains some well observed characters and it offers a plethora of themes to consider. The writing is slick and filled with tension, but I did tend to dip in and out of this one attention wise. I think at the end of the day this boils down to my pure dislike and disgust at the actions of the characters. Even alternating the points of view of the protagonists did not work in their favour, I disliked them all!
McGrath is quite the master manipulator, her previous work as a crime and mystery based novelist definitely feeds into this novel. There were plenty of plot diversions and unexpected reactions, that all culminate into a thrilling conclusion that I wasn’t able to predict at all. So hats off to Mel McGrath for devising characters I detested, but ultimately I came to appreciate how the whole sordid plot untangled!
At the close of my reading of The Guilty Party, I immediately reached for Give Me the Child, last year’s psychological thriller release from Mel McGrath. I’m keen to get started on this novel after reading The Guilty Party!
The Guilty Party by Mel McGrath was published on 18th March 2019 by HQ Fiction. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.
To learn more about the author of The Guilty Party, Mel McGrath, visit here.
*Please note that a free copy of this book was provided to me for review purposes through Beauty & Lace and HQ Fiction. To read the original review on the Beauty & Lace website please visit here.