I’m changing up my schedule guys, there won’t be a review on Sunday because this beauty releases today in e-book and I just couldn’t resist getting involved. I’m super happy I did because Degrees of Guilt is absolutely brilliant!
Happy publication day to HS Chandler!
When you read this book, you will think you know every twist in the tale.
Maria is on trial for attempted murder.
She has confessed to the crime and wanted her husband dead.
Lottie is on the jury, trying to decide her fate.
She embarks on an illicit affair with a stranger, and her husband can never find out.
You will think you know who is guilty and who is innocent.
You will be wrong.
I enjoy stories that involve morals and put you on the spot. I adore novels that provoke a reader and make you question the side you’re on. I love novels that secretly make you want to cheer the bad guy on.. it’s wrong to do so and you feel guilty but ok not all that much because sometimes, you know, it just can’t be helped. Degrees of Guilt is exactly this kind of brilliant novel, it hits all the high notes. In hindsight, I have to admit the title kind of gives it away but I was still very much unaware of it when I started reading this novel. I was ready to judge and condemn but I’ve never felt so torn.
The novel did start chillingly, with a woman, cold and rational, standing beside her dead husband. She also admits to the crime right away. How could this court case go then, it’s all rather clear cut, right? Awful crime, no remorse, big sentence to be expected. Well you might be mistaken there. There was a lot of background story that explains her current predicament. The novel massively challenged me to take mitigating circumstances into consideration. How much can be excused and can you ever understand why someone would murder someone else? I don’t know if I could say it out loud but eh deep down I understood why she did it for one hundred percent. What the outcome, the verdict would be was a big mystery though, and what I wanted it to be and how the jury saw it and if we were on the same page at all, I can’t say.
At first there wasn’t a bone in my body that made me consider her innocent but as the days progressed it was obvious that she was a victim too, trapped in a loveless marriage. I have read plenty novels with disturbing content and domestic abuse before but the author detailed her daily horrors so perfectly, it was such a quiet venom that poured from the pages, it would melt the coldest of hearts. A big tipping point and a scene that had a big impact on me was when I read about the tampons. I don’t know why that stood out but I think it’s something that is just completely our (a woman’s) business and everyone else should keep out of it.
Even though I knew what she had done and saw the damage together with the jury, I couldn’t help sympathise with Maria almost from the beginning. I believed her, I wanted to believe her, although I didn’t really know why she felt the need to lie about parts of her story. Why would she do that? A tiny part of me did feel a moment’s hesitation there about her. I didn’t know what to think.
Degrees of guilt is a domestic drama mixed with fantastic scenes in the courtroom and let’s not forget the sizzles between Lottie and hottie Cameron. Gawd there’s electricity crackling in the air! Their game was tantalising to watch unfold and he was sooo hot I could feel my own cheeks burn ;-). I found it a bit odd to insert this into such a novel but then it did help to lighten up the story a little and in the end it just worked out brilliantly.
Degrees of Guilt is definitely one of the best releases of the year for me. The novel demands to take a stance about the justice in this case and what you think is fair, it is so heartfelt, you just can’t not think about it when you’re not reading it. What would you do if you were on the jury? I can tell you it’s a difficult one because our heart and our head speak a different language when reading this novel! I can’t believe this is the first novel by Helen Fields I read but it most definitely won’t be the last.
I received a free ecopy via Netgalley from the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.