Review: The Guilty ~ Gabriel Boutros

The Guilty
Robert Bratt is a lawyer who has always done whatever it took to win his cases. After twenty years of defending the most hardened criminals, many of whom he knew to be guilty, the only thing he can no longer do is look at himself in the mirror. Loosely based on a multiple-murder that shocked Montreal in the 1990s, this riveting story pulls the reader into the inner workings of a murder trial, and reveals what one lawyer must do when he has to defend “The Guilty.

 5 Thumbs-UpThis is a debut novel by this Author, and the first courtroom drama that I have read in a very long time after becoming jaded by Baldacci and Grisham who seem to churn out cookie cutter books by the dozen now.  However, after reading this, I am sure I’ve rediscovered my love for this genre and, if this Author keeps up this level of writing, he will be knocking the aforementioned two off their very high pedestal.

Right from the opening of this novel, the main male lead is anything but likeable; think of all those Lawyer jokes you’ve heard or told, and they all apply to him.  He is the one that would give the shark a stomach ache.  This ‘man’ is arrogant, has no humanity about him whatsoever, and is not afraid to let anyone within earshot know that it’s his way or the highway.  He knows he is a clever and skilled Lawyer, and wants everyone to know this, whether they like it or not.  As unlikable as he is, the reader is drawn to him to see why he became this way, if he will be redeemable and, if not, to have a ringside view when his demise and total ruin take place.  This character does not have any Perry Mason or Ben Matlock qualities about him at all, and that is just fine; this is a gritty and disturbingly honest view of one reprehensible human being.  The remaining cast of characters in this novel have just as much time invested in their development; there are those that you will love and those that really renew your faith in the human race; and then there are those like our lead who you would like to see locked away for a very long time.

Unlike some courtroom drama novels, this one doesn’t have any episodes of high velocity action, and that works really well with the writing style of the Author; things definitely do happen in the book but nothing that would have you gripping the edge of your seat.  Because of the writing skill and style of the Author these action sequences are not needed, and their absence only serve to make the reader more aware that they are taking a glimpse into a world the Author has personal knowledge of; although not in the guise of our despicable lead we hope.  It is apparent from the way in which the courtroom scenes are described, and the way the justice machine in this part of the country moves along, that the Author has pulled from his own experiences in the legal arena and this makes the book more genuine and believable.

In this novel, the reader will find all the trappings of an epic courtroom drama that is also loosely based on actual events that took place in Montreal in the 1990’s; it is gritty, gripping and makes you want to keep reading on to the stunning conclusion.  However, readers need to be aware this is not a novel you will be able to pick up and dip into for a few chapters.  Due to the writing skill demonstrated and authenticity brought about by the experiences of the Author, the reader will find themselves being immersed totally into the story line, and needing to carry on reading regardless.  This book made me neglect things I needed to do, and stay up far too late so I could finish it, which in my opinion is the hallmark of a truly outstanding book.

At its core, it is so simple. Courtroom dramas are about the battle between good and evil, justice and injustice, right and wrong. Sometimes the case deals with an unimaginable crime. Sometimes it takes a look at the complexity of the human mind. Whatever the case, a person’s life is on the line. And with the help of complex characters and a great storyline, this novel has it all; it deals with extremes… and that makes for an intense story.

I would highly recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of Baldacci and Grisham et al also to those who have never picked up a courtroom drama before.  I am looking forward to seeing what this Author produces in the future.

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