RATING: 5 STARS
The thriller genre is often said to be over-saturated with veteran authors and new talents, making it a tall task to break into the genre and gain exposure. Finding a gem in the sea of novels can be difficult, but it is always worth it when you find a jewel such as Samuel W. Gailey’s The Guilt We Carry.
Noted as “the Breaking Bad of the book world” by the New York Journal of Books and a “gripping tale of redemption” by Publishers Weekly, the premise of the novel reads:
Since the tragic accident that brutally ended her childhood, Alice O’Farrell has been haunted by her past. Unable to bear the guilt of negligence that led to the death of her younger brother, fifteen-year-old Alice runs away from home. She lives on the streets, makes one bad decision after another, and drowns her guilt in alcohol. But, everything changes when she stumbles upon a startling scene: a dead drug dealer and a duffel bag full of one hundred thousand dollars in cash. Recognizing this as an opportunity for a fresh start, Alice takes the money and runs. However, she soon finds herself fleeing from more than her own past—the dead dealer’s drug supplier wants his money back and will destroy her to get it. A merciless manhunt ensues, headed by Sinclair—a formidable opponent—relentless, shrewd, and brutal. As blood is spilled all around her, Alice is eventually faced with her day of reckoning. The Guilt We Carry is a story about redemption and forgiveness, but at what cost?
Although it can seem like a typical thriller, Gailey’s focus on character sets it apart from many other similar works. Alice O’Farrell is a well-rounded character. Like all people, she has many different facets to who she is, and each of these parts of her personality comes across as realistic. Alice is damaged and lives with a lot of guilt (a motif of the story). The readers may not all have the same type of guilt she has, but the way she deals with her guilt is something that readers can connect with.
Alice still believes that even after all the bad decisions in her life, she can still turn her life around, a common notion most people share. She’s holding onto that hope that things will get better. Gailey does an excellent job of writing her as a flawed protagonist, one whose shortcomings mirror many realities of the real world.
Although the story is told in the third-person point-of-view, Gailey utilizes a descriptive narrative that draws the reader in. The descriptions are detailed and intense, making it very easy to visualize the scenes. Gailey knows how to utilize his pacing well, creating a lot of tension in the scenes where it’s needed, and slowing the pace down at times when the readers can learn more about the characters.
As the title suggests, one of the main themes is guilt and the ramifications of it. In a way, this internal struggle Alice battles is a bigger fight than her external battles. These themes are mature, and it is obviously not intended for younger audiences. Nonetheless, adult audiences who are fans of the thriller genre will certainly love The Guilt We Carry.
(We will be posting our interview with Mr. Gailey tomorrow, so be sure to tune it for that!)