Review: The Guilty One by Sophie Littlefield

Title: The Guilty One

Author: Sophie Littlefield

Published: Gallery Books August 2015

Read an Excerpt

Status: Read from August 10 to 11, 2015 — I own a copy   {Courtesy the publisher/netgalley}

My Thoughts:

As a parent, facing the horror of your precious child being murdered is one thing, confronting the truth that your child is a murderer is another. In The Guilty One, Sophie Littlefield’s 15th novel, Maris Vacanti and Ron Isherwood wrestle with the loss of their only children under very different circumstances.

A year ago, Maris’s teenage daughter, Calla, was murdered, and shortly after Maris’s husband left her, declaring their marriage a sham. Too emotionally depleted to even feign normalcy, Maris has let her suburban life lapse but is at a loss as to how to move on when a random encounter offers her the chance to escape and start anew.

Ron was horrified when his son Karl, Calla’s ex boyfriend, was charged and later convicted for Calla’s murder. Though his son, and wife, maintain a plea of innocence, Ron is racked with guilt because he believes his son is responsible and worries that it is his legacy of explosive violence, and the mistakes he made as a father, that contributed to Karl’s actions.

An emotionally wrenching novel, The Guilty One is a character driven story that explores the themes of grief, guilt, forgiveness and redemption as Maris and Ron struggle to reconcile themselves to all they have lost, and find a way to move forward.

While the perspective of a bereaved parent of a murdered child has been examined often in fiction, the aftermath for the parents of the murderer have rarely been examined. To the best of my recollection, in most cases the killer’s parents are absent or highly dysfunctional. Ron and Deb are ordinary middle class people and I appreciated the author’s decision to humanise them, and acknowledge their grief and loss.

The pacing is measured, the writing and dialogue of a good standard. Though there is little in the way of overt action, Littlefield maintains a low hum of suspense, as Karl’s culpability is in question.

I found The Guilty One to be a touching and thought-provoking novel, with a bittersweet but satisfying conclusion.

Available to purchase from

Simon & Schuster US I Amazon US I BookDepository I IndieBound

via Booko

Also reviewed at Book’d Out

@ Goodreads


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Kay
    Aug 14, 2015 @ 03:38:48

    I can see how this book would be very thought provoking. I can’t think of a book right now that explores the experience of the perpetrator’s parents. So sad. I’ll think about this one.



  2. Patty
    Aug 14, 2015 @ 08:44:10

    I have wondered about this one!



  3. Deborah
    Aug 16, 2015 @ 10:58:10

    Oh, this sounds good Shelleyrae – I love the idea of being privy to those on both sides of the story!



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