Verdict: The book is reminiscent of a film noir, with a well meaning guy—driven by guilt—is caught in a trap, in over his head and not realizing how all the pieces are coming together to frame him.
The Price of Guilt begins with a flashback, as Thomas Walsh sits in a jail cell and tries to come to terms with how he got there.
He traces the story back to when, as a thirteen year-old, he and three friends discover one of their married female teachers enter a hotel room with a man who is not her husband. The boys manage to get a couple of photos depicting the man and their teacher in a compromising position. When the photos come to the attention of the local pharmacist during processing, the man reports what he sees, quickly leading to press attention which ruins the man’s political career and drives the woman to write a suicide note. She ultimately decides against taking her life but her husband finds the note, panics and takes their son, Donovan, with him to find her. Tragically, their car crashes; the man is killed and the boy blinded.
The story picks up and the boy’s twenty-fifth class reunion where Thomas is seated with his old friends. They read a letter written by Donavon, explaining that he has come upon hard times and is unable to attend. Thomas, now a lawyer who helps the underprivileged, decides to visit Donovan to try to help him.
Haunted by guilt from the long ago incident, Thomas checks into Donavon’s rundown fishing resort under a false name, hoping to redeem himself. But things don’t go as planned. Thomas gets caught up in a maze involving illegal drugs. Author Garry’s ugly and realistic portrait of Thomas’ dissolving marriage makes it understandable that Thomas would fall for the beautiful Sheri, and that all of his education won’t help him against a well planned scam.
All of the elements in this book—plot, character, dialogue, tension and foreshadowing—are handled smoothly and assuredly. The book is reminiscent of a film noir, with a well meaning guy—driven by guilt—is caught in a trap, in over his head and not realizing how all the pieces are coming together to frame him.
Reviewed by Joe DelPriore for IndieReader
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