Reviewed by Sheri Harper
The Price of Guilt
by Patrick M. Garry
ISBN13: 978-0-9833703-0-7, 2011
The best part of Patrick M. Garry’s latest suspense-filled mystery is the twist of irony applied to the situation. Narrator and hero Thomas Walsh is filled with guilt about his own success in life and the success of his father and that guilt dictates his behavior. The story starts with the narrator in jail and provides one of the two mysteries in the story namely how did a lawyer end up in jail?
Since we are on the subject of guilt, especially guilt by association, I will make a disclaimer upfront—I have never met the author and the character with the same name bears no resemblance to myself. I don’t necessarily approve of prostitute character’s hurting people in a story where no female provides a strong counter example because there are enough stereotypes about women and enough “disrespectful to women” examples in the news from people like Paris Hilton providing role models for young women. Enough said on that point.
The story Patrick M. Garry tells is a story of how curiosity on the part of a group of young teens leads them to meddle in someone’s life with tragic results. This premise is well-rooted in life especially in political campaigns. The staging for the story has a small hometown appeal well-suited for the action. The story opening of a high school reunion also provides ample evidence for some of the action that occurs next i.e. a full blown middle age crisis.
The “Price of Guilt” questions the role guilt plays in charitable activity and the message scales up to society in general—do we provide aid to the needy to appease our own guilt at success or to truly aid someone in need. And how guilty are we? Antagonist Donavan Killerman is the victim of the act in which Thomas Walsh played as a teen and now, in middle age too, appears helpless before a corporate takeover of his recreation property. Thomas Walsh to the rescue but why is the question addressed by the author, Patrick M. Garry?
The actions of the main character make the reader question Thomas Walsh’s reliability—how he views himself might not be how anyone else perceives him. So what is the truth? The story that the man in jail tells or the one told at the trial. Perhaps we are all a little bit guilty and perhaps charity is not a correct solution to how aid is provided and perhaps, being made to feel guilty provides enough reason doing the acts for which one is accused. It does provide the ironic twist that the reader is in much the same position that a lawyer defending someone is placed.
I would have liked to have a more rounded character for Thomas Walsh’s wife. Everyone that has encountered a divorce knows that there is always two parts to the tale of dissolution and loss.
About the reviewer: Sheri Fresonke Harper is a poet and writer. She’s been published in many small journals and is working on her second science fiction novel. See www.sfharper.com