The Innocent One
November 22, 2022
Book Review

The Innocent One

reviewed by Fiona Cook

Ten years ago, Daniel Hunter successfully defended the child known as the Angel Killer – Sebastian Croll, eleven years old and accused of murdering another child.

Now, all these years later, and Sebastian’s university professor is herself horribly murdered – and Sebastian quickly finds himself back under scrutiny and back in the spotlight. Can Daniel help him once again? Or will the danger that quickly rises to surround them both win this one?

This was a great read – captivating and tense, but well-paced to give the reader enough room to unclench between the high stress or high-tension scenes. Lisa Ballantyne has done a particularly good job with the characters here; Daniel especially is an intriguing protagonist, one with realistic strengths and weaknesses. At the book’s opening he’s disconnected from his wife and son, working long hours to avoid dealing with the issues at home, and almost pathologically self-centered. But there’s a core to him that kept me from getting too irritated by him, or from feeling that he wasn’t worth getting invested in – a sense that this is a fundamentally good man, who hasn’t dealt with a suite of issues left over from a traumatic childhood.

And the mystery itself is a doozy. Initially I hadn’t realized that this was a follow-up novel, but it continues the story from the author’s 2013 book, The Guilty One. If you haven’t read it – don’t fear. Lisa Ballantyne very skillfully makes this a book that works just as well on its own – she catches the reader up on the events that first introduced Daniel and Sebastian, but doesn’t linger too much. Instead, she quickly unravels a very intriguing story – one that will have you second-guessing your own suspicions and questioning if anyone can ever be fully trusted.

When you pair a suspenseful and tension-filled plot like that with characters like the ones the author has brought to life in this book, you end up with a very satisfying mystery indeed. I’m a happy reader, and very keen to see what this author does next.

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