Mediocre procedural tackles important issue
In Guilty Night
by Alison Taylor
Mystery & Thrillers, General Fiction (Adult)
Pub Date: 5 August 2016
While I applaud Alison Taylor's courage in tackling such an important subject (the abuse of at-risk children at the hands of those employed to protect them), I was not particularly impressed by In Guilty Night.
Despite being rich in detail, the novel did not have a clear structure. Rather than progressing in a forward direction, In Guilty Night meandered. Over and over again, McKenna and his team are prevented from interviewing the children and staff of Blodwel, despite evidence of murder. Higher ups interfere. Sadly this is realistic, but the reader is kept in limbo for 2/3 of the book. The repetition and lack of progress gets boring pretty quickly. The novel would be far better if it had been streamlined more before publication. Topping it off, the ending is realistic but not very satisfying. Justice is on hiatus as the culprits are unreadable, and the investigation into the individuals involved is still in progress.
Alison Taylor has a definitive understanding of institutional abuse and the ingrained prejudice against children in care. That is extremely clear. Unfortunately, despite or perhaps because of its realism, In Guilty Night falters.
I received a copy of In Guilty Night from the publisher and netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review.
Evil lurks at every turn...
Arwel Thomas was a bright and beautiful boy.
But when he’s found dead and abused on the railway near Bangor, only a handful of people seem to care.
Social services, into whose care Arwel had been placed, seem to regard his death as unimportant — possibly even convenient.
After all, who will miss another young delinquent?
As DCI McKenna and his team investigate, they examine Arwel’s time at Blodwel Children’s Home.
It soon becomes increasingly clear that their attention has not come a moment too soon.
The stench of corruption and evil at Blodwel is palpable.
As the investigation deepens, the police uncover some astonishing links between Arwel, Blodwel and the rich and poor of the local community.
The severity of the situation is all but confirmed when a second Blodwel boy dies, and yet another vanishes.
With the death count rising, the police begin to question the role of family and friends in the events that led to Arwel’s death, and the mysterious events that have followed.
Is Arwel’s premature death the fault of just one person, or several?
Have his parents failed him? The community? The Council?
Or is the person who killed him the only one to blame?
Set against the stark beauty of north Wales, In Guilty Night is a gritty but rewarding read, which will leave the reader pondering many important questions and ideas, long after the mystery at its heart is solved.
Praise for Alison Taylor
‘Impressive … disturbingly good’ — Marcel Berlins in The Times
Alison Taylor has lived in North Wales for many years. She held senior childcare posts with the former Gwynedd County Council. She has been instrumental in exposing institutional child abuse, and in 1996 won the Campaign for Freedom of Information Award in this area. Her interests include classical and baroque music, art and writing. Her other books include Unsafe Convictions and The House of Women.