Today I’m sharing my review of The Guilty Couple by C.L. Taylor. I’ve had this book on the TBR pile since the hardback release last year, and with the paperback due out later this week, it seemed the perfect time to read it. Here’s what it’s all about:
About the Book
What would you do if your husband framed you for murder?
Five years ago, Olivia Sutherland was convicted of plotting to murder her husband.
Now she’s finally free, Olivia has three goals. Repair her relationship with her daughter. Clear her name. And bring down her husband – the man who framed her.
Just how far is she willing to go to get what she wants? And how far will her husband go to stop her?
Because his lies run deeper than Olivia could ever have imagined – and this time it’s not her freedom that’s in jeopardy, but her life…
Well. What a story. Full of the twists and turns we’ve come to expect from C.L. Taylor, this book is a story of revenge, family and the fight for justice – whatever form that may take. And with the protagonist, Olivia, having spent five years in prison for the attempted murder of her husband, Dominic, a crime that you feel pretty sure from the start she is not guilty of, you can pretty much expect her to go to any extreme to reconnect with her daughter, Grace, and to find out what really happened all those years ago. Expect betrayal, corruption, and a whole heap of misdirection as the author has made the most of this very twisted story.
I quite liked Olivia as a character. She’s not the strongest of women, and most definitely not the most logical – there are a number of things she does post release that beggar belief – but I do admire her determination to, not necessarily prove her innocence, but to uncover enough of Dominic’s guilt to win back the trust of her daughter. Five years is a long time for Grace to have her father dripping poison in her ear, so it’s going to be an uphill battle, especially with contact restricted to supervised visits. Despite her lapses in judgment, she does have a good heart and it was easy to like and to root for her. She stands up for other inmates in prison, and has an unexpected but believable bond with one particular cellmate, Smithy, which extends to her life outside.
Dominic is a well imagined character and portrayed perfectly in this book as the antagonist or ‘doer of all evil’ if we want to be more apt. He is a weak man, someone who got my hackles up from the start, and even understanding more about his motives didn’t help. In fact, the more we get to know him, the more loathsome he becomes, if that is at all possible. Not to a ‘need to walk away from the book’ level, but enough to have me rooting for Olivia to give him his comeuppance. In contrast, Olivia’s one true ally, Smithy, was a fun character to get to know. Often encouraging Olivia’s more reckless behaviour, it’s clear that, in her own funny way, she has Olivia’s interest at heart. Eventually at least.
There is quite a lot of double crossing and subterfuge in this book, various threads of stories which both inform the overall picture but also distract readers from seeing what should be quite obvious. It’s fair to say that Olivia doesn’t have many allies, but not all of the bad actors are immediately obvious either, and if they are, there are reasons for which they may, or may not depending on your point of view and generosity, be forgiven.
The pacing of this book is surprisingly fast and I found I read through it in no time at all. The pacing still lifts towards the end when Olivia is in an all or nothing race to keep her family together. The final scenes are surprisingly satisfying and brought a smile to my lips. If you like the author’s skill with twists and turns, and love to root for the underdog and hate the bad guy, this will be the book for you.
About the Author
C.L. Taylor is a Sunday Times bestselling author. Her psychological thrillers have sold over a million copies in the UK alone, been translated into over twenty languages, and optioned for television. Her 2019 novel, Sleep, was a Richard and Judy pick. C.L. Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son.