Friday, December 28, 2018

The Guilt We Carry

The Guilt We Carry by Samuel W. Gailey
Oceanview Publishing: 1/8/19
eBook review copy; 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9781608093205

The Guilt We Carry by Samuel W. Gailey is a highly recommended thriller and tale of redemption.

In 2005 promising swimming star 15-year-old Alice O’Farrell is left to babysit her 4-year-old brother, Jason. He makes a huge fingernail polish mess in her bedroom and Alice yells at him. While she is trying to clean up the nail polish, Jason makes his way to the basement and somehow manages to trap himself in the dryer and dies. Guilt-ridden, Alice ran away from home soon after this. Six years later, she is an alcoholic working as a bartender at a strip joint in Harrisburg, PA. Since she ran away before she had a driver's license or a credit card, Alice has lived under the radar and moves frequently to avoid making any friends.

When she wakes up after another drunken night next to the dead body of her boss, she needs a drink to figure out what to do. Next, she looks around the trailer and finds a bag with drugs and $91,000 in cash. The cash could give Alice a way out and up from the pit she is in, but the cash is tied to the drug dealer involved. Soon, Alice finds herself on the run, trying to stay away from the drug dealer who relentlessly pursues her, wanting her dead and his cash back. Even while on the run, Alice can't help but see a predatory man trying to take advantage of a teenage runaway and, recognizing the scenario, she intervenes, inadvertently adding another dimension to her escape.

This is a tense, taunt, riveting thriller - violent, dark, and gritty. The scenes in the novel are very descriptive and visual, starting with Alice's promising skill as a swimmer to her excessive drinking to escape. The detailed descriptions continue throughout the narrative, increasing the anxiety and stress as you follow Alice's route to escape and the close pursuit of the drug kingpin who thinks nothing of leaving bodies in his wake.

I flew through  The Guilt We Carry. Alice is a flawed, but sympathetic well-developed character. Even while recognizing her flaws and failings, you will be hoping she escapes and finds a way out of the downward spiral she is in. While it is obvious a showdown of sorts will happen, the lead-up to it is intense. You will want her to find closure and redemption, and perhaps even a reconciliation and forgiveness with her parents. The supporting characters in the novel are also fairly well-developed and interesting.
Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Oceanview Publishing.

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