The Guilty Couple is one of my new favorite mysteries! This is my first CL Taylor novel, and it checks all the boxes; flawed and unreliable characters, a quick pace, an intricate plot and a satisfying resolution. I could not put this down until the very last sentence because I was so invested in what was happening. Five years ago, they wrongfully convicted Olivia Sutherland of plotting to murder her husband. She has finally been released and wants to clear her name, repair her relationship with Grace, her 12yo daughter, and bring down Dominic, her husband and the man who set her up. But how will she do it without going back to jail? And how far will Dominic be willing to go to stop her? And Dani, the cop Dom is having an affair with, has a vested interest in making sure Liv does not make trouble.
Without Jack, Liv’s lover who disappeared right before Liv was convicted, Liv’s “family” is her group of friends who have stood by her throughout her time served, but also, Kelly Smith “Smithy,” who was her cellmate, and released right around the same time. There is a theme of friendship throughout the book, and how we determine who our “family is. While Liv and Smithy’s relationship is amazing and strong, what I really enjoyed was her relationship with Grace, her 12yo daughter. I am glad that Taylor made it real, and explored Grace’s feelings about her mother’s release. It was not all sunshine and rainbows. Her daughter felt very conflicted, only knowing that her mom had plotted to kill her dad. She does not immediately forgive Liv. Another reviewer mentioned that Dani, Dom’s lover and a cop, is in a similar situation with her sister, Casey, who is a drug addict. Her determination to save her sister from an almost certain death is admirable, and you want to root for her, even though she is not a good person. Instead of just one storyline in this book, there are little nuances of mini-storylines all woven together, and it works! The author does a wonderful job exploring all the relationships Liv has, including her relationship with Ayesha, whom she is living with, Lee, her former business partner and Nancy, her best friend and the wife of Dom’s best friend. Through each of these relationships, there are themes of guilt, mis-loyalty and love. Seemingly, everyone has something to hide.
Even with the deception and guilt, both of which run deep in The Guilty couple, the reader will root for Liv. You feel all throughout the book that something terrible is going to happen, and it is that creepy feeling that keeps you reading. I enjoyed each character, even the bad ones. And there are so many surprises, you will want to go back and read it again to see what you missed.