It’s really a pleasure to welcome Mel McGrath back to the blog as part of the BlogTour The Guilty Party. It’s an intriguing thriller with the kind of nooks and crannies of human behaviour the reader would rather leave dark, dusty and unexplored.
About the Author
Melanie McGrath is an Essex girl, the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling family memoir Silvertown. She won the John LlewellynRhys Mail on Sunday award for ‘Best Writer under 3’5 for her first book, Motel Nirvana. She has published three Arctic mysteries featuring the Inuit detective Edie Kiglatuk under the name MJ McGrath, the first of which, The Boy in the Snow, was shortlisted for a CWA Gold Dagger.
She is one of the founders of the writing collective, Killer Women, which has rapidly established itself as one of the key forums for crime writing in the UK. Give Me the Child marked a change in direction for her writing. The Guilty Party is her second thriller published by HarperCollins.
About the book
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’m not going to lie. The first chapter isn’t easy to read and digest. Not because it’s overly graphic or violent, just from a moral point of view. In fact the same could be said about the whole story. The characters and their actions say so much about society and the new norm, well it’s disturbing and simply disappointing.
Of course it’s also a darn good read. Not that I expect anything less from McGrath, who does like to mix things up a wee bit. I do think this premise takes the reader into waters they may not want to wade in. These fictional characters are written fairly closely to the reality of human behaviour and the inadequacies of our decisions, especially those made in difficult or possibly dangerous situations.
Cassie, Bo, Dex and Anna are a tight-knit group of friends, who enjoy leaving their respective partners and family to take a break from the daily slog. Late one night after a music festival the four friends, all from slightly different physical locations, are witness to a brutal crime. Instead of intervening or helping the victim, they make individual and then a collective decision not to help and to leave the young woman to her own devices. She is found dead soon afterwards.
It’s uncomfortable to read the thought processes and dialogues of the group, as they justify their actions and rationalise their lack of empathy. The finger of blame is pointed in the direction of the victim. She deserved it. It’s her own fault. She shouldn’t have done this or that. The same kind of blame-game and statements one sees on social media when the tables are turned on the victims of heinous crimes.
The bystander effect is a social psychological phenomenon our society seems to be experiencing more frequently in the last few decades. Individuals are less likely to come to the aid of a victim when other people are present or to be more specific, they are also less likely to take any risk to themselves to help others in certain situations.
It’s an intriguing thriller with the kind of nooks and crannies of human behaviour the reader would rather leave dark, dusty and unexplored. You never know what you will find when you take a closer look at the secrets your so-called friends keep hidden behind their friendly exteriors.
On a final note; none of us can say for certain what we would do. Until you experience something that requires a decision in either direction you may never know. I have. I know. And I did.