By Norah McClintock
Available now from Orca
I first heard of Orca Book Publishers when one of my high school librarians wrote some reading guides for them. I read an Orca book before, SHAPESHIFTER, but it didn't really make me want to find out more about the publisher. I regret that, because bloggers can help small publishers more than big ones. Writing about blockbuster books is fun, but finding hidden gems is even more fun. (At least, in my opinion it is.)
I got a chance to look at the Orca line-up while I was at the Texas Library Association Conference. I added Tom Ryan's WAY TO GO to my wish list and told myself to keep an eye out for ALL GOOD CHILDREN by Catherine Austen, a dystopian that the woman working the booth raved about. And, as it turns out, I had just won a copy of Norah McClintock's GUILTY from LibraryThing. Perfect for giving Orca another chance.
I was drawn to GUILTY by the blurb. Finn witnesses his stepmother's murder by the same man who killed his mother and his father subsequently shooting the man. That, of course, causes him to question things. What could possibly have motivated the killer? What follows is the definition of a quick read. Since I'm timing myself for the 48 Hour Book Challenge, I know that I finished in 53 minutes.
The story alternates between Finn's point-of-view and Lila's. Lila, the daughter of the killer, grew up believing her father had been framed and unjustly sent to prison. This new murder seems to confirm that everything she didn't want to believe about her father was true. Then Lila and Finn meet in the police station and begin a tentative friendship. As both of them research their pasts, they discover they didn't know as much about their parents as they thought.
Both Finn and Lila are somewhat static characters. The plot drives GUILTY rather than character growth. But they're good characters to tell the story. Finn is slightly numb to everything due to reliving his childhood trauma. Lila is stuck with her final argument with her father. She prioritized working over school and didn't get a scholarship to college. She stands by her decision, but feels guilty over how it might have contributed to her father's death.
GUILTY is a delightful mystery and a nice change from all the science fiction I started my day with. The ending is pretty obvious, but I enjoyed the journey there. I'm interested in reading more by Norah McClintock and definitely need to pick up copies of those other two Orca books.