Murder, Mayhem, Sex and Mind Games - Oh Yes!
Written: Aug 20, 2001 (Updated Aug 22, 2001)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Cons:Too many support characters!
The Bottom Line: Put it on your reading list, but not at the top!
Guilty as Sin is the conclusion to Tami Hoag's Night Sins but could also be considered a stand-alone type novel.
In Night Sins we learn about the kidnapping of Josh Kirkwood a nine-year-old boy living in a small town in Minnesota. The horrible crime rocks the peaceful feeling and security of those that live there, but none so much as the parents of this child do. At the end of Night Sins a villain is captured - Dr. Garrett Wright, a local college professor, and neighbor and friend to the Kirkwoods.
Guilty as Sin picks up right where Night Sins leaves off. However, instead of continuing the focus on the Kirkwood family and the law enforcement officers trying to find the child, Guilty as Sin focuses on Ellen North, an Assistant County Prosecutor who is trying to put Dr. Garrett Wright away for this heinous crime.
Along the way, we learn that Dr. Wright isn't working alone and has an accomplice, but the identity of that second villain is lost in a slew of subplots and support characters.
Tami Hoag floods the reader with a cast of support characters to the point of confusion:
Jay Butler Brooks - author of true crime novels, comes to Minnesota to research the kidnapping and trial for a new book.
Dennis Enberg - the defense attorney, originally representing Wright who commits suicide after he's removed from the case - or was it suicide?
Hannah Garrison - mother to Josh Kirkwood, ER doctor, and all around nice person who embodies the perfect mother/wife/career woman.
Paul Kirkwood - father to Josh Kirkwood, husband to Hannah, who is so self absorbed that he can't feel for anyone but himself.
Tom McCoy - local Catholic priest who starts to doubt his faith and wonders at his calling.
Christopher Priest - professor at Harris College, co-worker with Garrett Wright
Sci-Fi Cowboys - a group of juvenile delinquents that are brought to Harris College to make something respectable out of their lives and are under the guidance of Garrett Wright and Christopher Priest.
Phoebe - Ellen North's secretary and right-hand assistant who is a little on the eccentric side
Todd Childs - student and protege of Garrett Wright and Christopher Priest
Adam Slater - reporter from a small town mid-western newspaper who has his eyes on Phoebe
Tony Costello - sleezebag defense attorney who gets called in to represent Garrett Wright and who just happens to have a past with Ellen North.
With so many subplots going on, it is difficult at times to follow the story line and left me wishing more could be devoted to the subplots I enjoyed and less to those that I didn't. For example, Todd Childs being a stoner and working in a thrift store left me shrugging and wondering why he was even included in the story for more than a mention in passing. On the other hand, Ellen North's previous involvement with Tony Costello could have been expanded with a possible flashback to the actual events that led to their breakup instead of a few words mentioned here and there so the reader will eventually get the drift.
The overall story was a good one, but long - over 600 pages. Ellen North is feisty, interesting, clever, and impassioned. She's an excellent protagonist. The accomplice (no I won't tell you his/her identity) is indistinct because of so many characters that this identity is convoluted. This is one of the few mysteries that I didn't figure out the "other" villain but I wasn't surprised either.
The ending is a page-turner and the last 50 pages will be read quickly. You'll hold your breath hoping you've sensed the outcome correctly. And you won't be disappointed. Overall I'd recommend reading it, but there are other books that I'd read first!
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