The Price of Guilt

Reviews of The Price of Guilt

Another Winner by Novelist Patrick Garry

In the introduction to Patrick Garry’s latest novel, the reader is told that the principal character, Thomas Walsh is in prison. As an old Texas buddy of mine used to say, the author “likes to get to the hog killing early.” Okay, so Walsh is in prison. But why is he in prison? After reading the next chapter the answer to that question appears obvious. It seems that Walsh, a prominent Chicago lawyer, has more than his share of problems. He was recently implicated in a very public election scandal; he is burdened with serious marital problems; and to make matters worse, is an occasional, as-yet-not-caught adulterer. So there you have it. What more evidence do you need? Thomas Walsh was put in prison for stealing campaign funds; or, trying to fix an election; or, murdering his wife and/or one of his lovers who was blackmailing him. Right? Wrong! There is more to the story. Much more.

In the same chapter where we learned about Walsh’s character faults, we are also told that he and his long suffering wife Sarah are driving to his high school class reunion, something he has never done before. His reason for going this time is hard to explain, even to himself. For at the reunion, he will confront a burden of guilt that has been with him since he was 13 years old; namely, that he and three other classmates precipitated an accident that left another classmate, Donavon Killerman an orphan and blind. Will Donavon be there? If so, how will he react when confronted by Walsh and the other classmates involved in the accident?

Although Donavon did not appear at the reunion, Walsh did learn that he owned a rundown fishing resort that was having financial and legal problems. Driven by a sense of moral obligation he could not explain even to his wife, Walsh decided to go to the resort, register under an alias, and see if he could render aid to the hapless victim while maintaining his anonymity. To his surprise, the ruse worked and he soon gained Donavon’s trust and gratitude. But the more Walsh became involved in Donavon’s affairs, the more he became enmeshed in an unfamiliar world—a world populated with hardnosed cops, drug dealers, and other unscrupulous characters. To make matters worse, when Sarah left the resort, disgusted by the entire goings on, he was promptly seduced by an extremely sensual young woman with a doubtful background who lives in the cabin next to his. It was after their first tryst that Walsh began to sense that he was being watched.

At this point, the story begins to accelerate, gathering steam with each page. Finally, it becomes obvious where all of this is going. Walsh asked Donavon to visit him in prison and is awaiting his arrival. He is convinced that Donavon has information that will clear his name. The confrontation between the two men—one blind and the other imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit—provides a dramatic and explosive ending to the book. What is the final outcome? Will Donavon provide information to clear his name? Or will Walsh be forced to remain in prison until his sentence is served? The answer to that question can be found by reading this well written book.

I became a fan of Patrick Garry after I read his book “A Bomb Shelter Romance.” He has a crisp no-nonsense style of writing that keeps the pages turning. More importantly, he is clever enough to keep just one step ahead of his readers at all times, thus sustaining their interest without revealing too much of the ending—a skill all novelists should possess.

Garry has written seven previous novels that have garnered ten literary awards. One national book review program called him “the best unrecognized American novelist writing today.” In my opinion, he is a talented writer who is ready for prime time; and I looked forward to the day that the word “unrecognized” is removed from his credentials. Bottom line: “The Price of Guilt” is a damn good book written by a damn good author. It’s a winner! 5.0 out of 5 stars.
 -Ron Standerfer, Novelist and Book Critic

In The Price of Guilt, Patrick Garry has a really excellent grasp of the pacing and tension necessary to keep a reader engaged in a thriller.  He takes what could be a rather cliched setup – someone waiting for a visit, and then remembering the circumstances that brought them to that  place – and executes it well, treating the trips down memory lane more as time period jumps rather than flashbacks….The dialogue is lively and interesting, and each side character has his or her own unique voice which really comes through in the writing.
 – Judge, Writer’s Digest 21st Annual Book Awards

Attending a high school reunion, successful Chicago attorney Thomas Walsh is reminded of a shameful episode in his past and consequently embarks on an elaborate course of action to atone for it. This conduct is consistent with Walsh’s professional inclinations, which frequently feature the championing of underdogs and needy causes. To say that “no good deed goes unpunished” is a rather tepid description of what Walsh suffers in pursuing his mission of recompense.

The novel is engaging on many levels. Walsh’s relationship with his wife is complex and vivid in its description of a kind of ennui/cum/anger marriage….  Walsh’s liaisons with younger women are well described exhibits to the phenomenon of male mid-life crisis. And revenge is always a reliable theme upon which to hang a story. Finally, the fact that photographs are central both to Walsh’s original sin and his final crucifixion is nicely neat…. The distribution of text between dialogue and description is well balanced, and the author comes armed with a rich vocabulary and ample supplies of imaginative metaphors and similes.

The Price of Guilt has at its center a character that is difficult to evaluate clearly. He’s a mixture of merits and demerits. In other words, he’s human. And there is something quite moving about his becoming a victim of his virtues. At times, however, his gullibility and naïveté challenge credibility, but, as they say, “love is blind,” or is it, in this case, “lust is blinder”? … Those who have events in their lives that trouble them in memory might be persuaded to suppress them, for as Mr. Garry well tells, The Price of Guilt can be a very high one.
 -Gordon Osmond, author,

The Price of Guilt by Patrick M. Garry…marks the sixth or seventh novel this author has written. It is a modern morality tale with a suspenseful plot that explores the destructiveness of misguided guilt…. I previously reviewed Garry’s “A Bomb Shelter Romance”, and he continues to demonstrate he is one of America’s best unknown novelists!
-Alan Caruba, author and critic, Bookviews

What an excellent book!!! I loved it! It is a fast, easy read, but it is so interesting and definitely a page turner. I can see why Patrick M. Garry has won so many awards. I was fortunate enough to win this book on Good Reads. I don’t want to give away the ending, but the reader will be very surprised. The story just swept me along and I was amazed at what happened to Thomas Walsh.
-Goodreads, 5 Star Review

Garry’s latest novel describes in riveting fashion just how guilt can destroy a man’s life…. Fast-paced narration, smooth dialogue, and richly developed characters create an action packed plot. Garry’s use of flashbacks to narrate Walsh’s demise engages readers to keep turning the pages. This novel isn’t just a thriller, but a cautionary tale of guilt, hubris, and the blinding drive for redemption. Readers will be able to suspect the final outcome, but Walsh never will.
-L.A. Webb, Reviewer for The US Review of Books

This thriller is the well-conceived story of a man who as a teenager was complicit in an accident which resulted in the severe injury and blindness of a classmate, and which also killed the friend’s parents. Many years later, at a class reunion, the guilty party decides to make amends by checking in anonymously to the blinded friend’s fishing camp and trying to make amends.  The plot is complex and interesting, with well-planned characters and a strong sense of setting.  There is lots of good, realistic dialogue, and a well-evoked sense of the revelation that class reunions bring, along with the remorse and guilt of long-ago wrongs that suddenly seem to require righting years later.
Writer’s Digest, Book Awards Reviews

They say that love is blind but guilt can often have the same effect. Perhaps guilt is even more powerful as it can eat away at a person indefinitely. Even when logic tells them that there’s nothing we can do about the past, somewhere deep inside they feel they need to suffer as much as the victim.

In his youth, Thomas Walsh and his friends were spying on people at a local motel when they came across a couple obviously having an affair. As a lark, they decided to blind-side the couple and take their picture. Unfortunately, playing with the lives of others can have unforeseen and dire consequences.

Years later, at a school reunion, old scars are brought to the surface for Thomas. The real question here is how far is Thomas willing to go to appease his guilt? Is he willing to risk everything that he’s worked so hard for since that tragic incident?
 -Tami Brady, TCM Reviews

Sometimes it feels like morality has become a fluid concept. There are few beacons illuminating for us what exactly is always right to do, and what is explicitly wrong. Perhaps this is partly due to the disappearance of morality tales in this modern world. I, for one, appreciate greatly a few life lessons mixed in with my entertainment. After all, isn’t part of why we read (or choose to experience anything intentionally) to receive a selective set of instructions on how to live—falling in line of course after escapism, pleasure, and gaining general knowledge about the world around us? To help fill that social void, author Patrick M. Garry has put forth into the world his new novel The Price of Guilt (Kenric Books), a “modern morality tale” about the destructive repercussions of self-imposed martyrdom.

Garry, a professor at the University of South Dakota has written a number of other books, many of which have won awards—including the Jack Eadon Award for Best Novel, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Fiction, two National Best Book Awards for Literary Fiction, an Editor’s Choice Award, an IBPP Next Generation Book Award, a National Indie Excellence Award for Fiction, and three International Book Awards for Literary Fiction. In 2008, Melissa Slachetka of the Twin Cities Daily Planet reviewed another book of his entitled A Bridge Back. The Price of Guilt was a finalist in two categories at the International Book Awards.

The novel begins in prison with Thomas Walsh, a once-prominent lawyer who in unaccustomed to being the one behind bars, and in the company of “thieves and murderers and rapists.” He is waiting for a visitor, a man named Donovan Killerman; someone who he hopes will answer the burning questions he has about the events leading up to his imprisonment, which have for him become a “prison within a prison, trapping [him] in an endless and unsolvable repetition of the chain of events which led [him] here.”

Over the course of the book it is revealed that Killerman was a schoolmate of Walsh’s. Walsh and three friends set in motion a string of events which caused Killerman, the tender age of 13, to lose both his parents and his sight in the same day. Now an adult, Walsh is reminded of the accident at his 25th-year high school reunion, and decides to track down Donovan Killerman and somehow try to make up for what he did. However, he goes about it all wrong, behaving passively still as Donovan and his acquaintances ravel Walsh into a web of deceit and trouble.

While the book is solid enough in structure and writing, it seemed to fly by because there are no real mysteries here. As a reader I felt that I didn’t have to do any work, I just had to go along for the ride, which in the end made me feel just as culpable as Walsh in his misdeeds and missteps. One thing that Garry did very well was creating such an unlikeable, unsympathetic character. There were times that I felt vindictively excited for Walsh’s fall from his imagined grace, and couldn’t wait for the plot to give him what for, but other times Walsh’s unrelentingly bad attitude and misguided attempts to make amends were too heavy-handed and smothering. However, isn’t that the point of the morality tale? In them you know who is good and who is bad. The lines are clear; when it comes to morality nothing should be ambiguous…except the blurred lines surrounding complicated revenge schemes, I guess.
-Courtney Algeo, Literary Reviewer, Twin Cities Daily Planet

I liked the way the book alternated at times between “present” and “past” to show not only what happened but what the narrator thinks about it.  That’s an interesting approach, and sets up a sense of dread because we know that this isn’t going to end well! The author writes dialogue really, really well. I especially appreciated how the narrator explained what happened in the past through argument and dispute, so that it seemed quite organic to the scene.
Writer’s Digest Book Awards

It is safe to say author Patrick M. Garry is not afraid to go deep into the flaws of the human animal. His latest novel, “The Price of Guilt,” is racked with a plethora of ill will, bad tidings, and flawed natures. Thankfully, the human heart is also on display. The hero of the piece (if there truly is one), also happens to be its anti-hero, a man named Thomas Walsh. We meet Walsh in the opening pages, an incarcerated lawyer, full of the desire for revenge and reversal. A man, who as a teen, participated in a large mistake that reverberated out into the cosmos and bounced back with terrible repercussions….

Mr. Garry is working with heady underpinnings here. The guts of man’s moral fiber, the willingness in the face of strident odds to help another soul, are questioned. How far ought one allow themselves to be dragged for the sake of another? We all harm people. We all make mistakes. Is it ever right to let the clock move on, to turn away, if only to avoid harm to ourselves? After finishing “The Price of Guilt,” I’m not sure that I know. But I think I do.

The quick hard prose Patrick Garry has chosen to utilize, blessed without undo garnishment, fits the battered story of this book the way any reader should want it to. The lines are carved into tight paragraphs, the paragraphs into tight pages. It makes the thing fly, and keeps the turns that come from going off the rails. Walsh and Donavon’s relationship careens through a maze of circumstances. Shady happenings, the world of drugs and police, a young woman draped in shadows, swim into the muddy stream. Soon, the one helping the other, becomes the man in need of help. It all comes to a culmination, but there is enough ambiguity to leave the taste of the real in the air. So much of life is questioning. This novel, populated by well drawn characters, fills the head with much to wonder about. Action and intrigue are present as well. And, I might add, affairs of the heart. Now I ask you, what more might you want from a work of fiction.
-F. T. Donereau, Amazon 5-Star Review      

The plot of this mind-bending novel consists of a brilliantly conceived and absolutely compelling set of events leading up to the most apt title: THE PRICE OF GUILT.  As we soon find out: there are prisons within prisons, the worst being the obsessions of the mind. In fact, the author sets the dark penal tone with a great line about being in jail: “mealtime and bedtime — two ports of call on an endless cruise of fear and monotony.” Along with well-dispersed flashbacks — using prison as his vehicle of transition — the author serves up crisp, natural dialogue to funnel us down a path where people and situations are nothing like they seem; in fact, Mr. Garry has so skillfully portrayed spousal bickering, he raises it to an art form. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton come to mind.

… [T]he book’s title says it best because it’s all about the destructiveness of misdirected guilt. The first few chapters set the tone and absolutely hook the reader. After that? Well, there’s a cast of compelling characters that keep you guessing, plus mysterious interludes, ugly politics, sexual tension, and even a peppering of steamy sex. There are Stand-By-Me-type coming of age flashbacks, many layers of betrayal, and a grand scheme of revenge. If you like to be kept guessing, you’ll love it, I guarantee. However, to be totally honest here, I gotta admit that I had a little trouble believing the main character, such a seasoned lawyer, could be so naïve. That is, until I thought more about it. After all, our rationality and true vision of even the smartest of us is often easily obscured by those tremendously powerful emotions revolving around guilt. Anyway, everything is explained completely in the end. Each and every loose thread is tied up nicely. I love that in a book.

The book jacket tells us that Patrick Garry is a professor at the University of South Dakota. Even more impressive to fans of fiction, he’s penned no less than seven novels, which have been widely and favorably reviewed. In fact, the author has actually won ten prestigious literary awards including a National Best Book Award for fiction. One national book review radio program has called him “the best unrecognized American novelist writing today.”
—Jan Evan Whitford, Allbooks Reviews 

Greatly enjoyed this good from Professor Garry. I have read Professor Garry’s academic work, but this was the first novel of his that I have read. The book was a page-turner; a very quick read; but not so quick that it lacked substance. Recommended summer reading!

Patrick M. Garry poses a powerful ethical dilemma in The Price of Guilt. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a page-turner. Though not action-packed and fast-paced, as most legal thrillers tend to be, this book is psychologically intriguing. The reader is methodically pulled into the moral questions posed in the story, just as Thomas is, and we wonder who really is the blind man.

The plot is methodically revealed and the action moves seamlessly from the present to the past and back. The deceptively simple story slowly leads the reader to its conclusion, but we have known that since the first chapter. It is the “how did it happen?” internal question that keeps the reader intrigued. Layer after layer, Garry seduces the reader, building the story with great skill. I will definitely read more books by Patrick Garry.
 Readers Favorite

The sins of decades ago can still find redemption. “The Price of Guilt” follows Thomas Walsh, a disgraced lawyer who is fighting crisis. He looks back to a teenage accident, and tries to take up the cause of a victim who lost his parents and his sight to the tragedy. Working with the scum of the earth and the criminal underworld, he makes headway to find something that resembles justice, and finds the side effects of guilt. “The Price of Guilt” is a fine novel with much to consider, highly recommended.
The Midwest Book Review

The Price of Guilt is narrated by Thomas Walsh from his jail cell in Orono Prison. The story is told through the use of flashbacks that are in chronological order and easy to follow. The readers are allowed to look deeply into Thomas’ mind as he relives the guilt from his youth. But they also experience his adult mindset as he agonizes over how trying to make something right could have turned out so wrong. There are many introspective scenes as he attempts to figure out how the events that led to his fall came about and how he could have been so easily manipulated.

I enjoyed the way the author presented the story. Sharing Thomas’ thoughts as he relives the events that led to his imprisonment permits the reader to understand his character and his insecurities. The flashbacks allow the facts to be presented so the reader can try to formulate an opinion as to why events turned out as they did. Having the story unfold slowly, instead of hitting the reader with one big jolt at the end, provided a sense of pleasure because I felt drawn into what was happening. The Price of Guilt is a truly exceptional book by a talented author.
Reader Views

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?
The Compulsive Reader

This book was truly a marvel to read. I enjoyed it very much. The mystery and how things turned out was fulfilling. The down side is that the one in jail is to blame and no one else because he put himself there.

This story is very well-plotted and well-written, with lots of questions that don’t get answered until the surprise ending! The characters are true-to-life, and the protagonist was definitely a complex character. It’s his human weaknesses and wavering, mostly self-serving ethics that prove to be his downfall. This book is written in a clever way, with the narrator telling us his story in the first-person, jumping back and forth in time from his prison cell to relating the events that finally landed him in prison, right to the excellent surprise ending! When he’s talking to us directly from prison, it’s in the present tense, but the story events that led to his incarceration are told in the past tense.
Writer’s Digest Book Awards

The book is reminiscent of a film noir, with a well-meaning guy—driven by guilt—is caught in a trap, in over his head and not realizing how all the pieces are coming together to frame him.
The IndieReader

Listed as a notable book by berniE-zine Book Reviews.

Literary Awards

2017 Royal Dragonfly Book Award Winner

Winner, 2017 John Weaver Book Award

2015 Paris Book Festival Award

2014 London Book Festival Award

Runner-up, 2014 Hollywood Book Festival Literary Award

2014 New York Book Festival Award

Second Place winner, 2014 LuckyCinda Book Contest

2013 NIEA Book Award

 2013 Readers’ Favorite Fiction Award

2013 Beverly Hills Book Award

2012 Independent Book Publishing Professionals Book Award

2011 International Book Award for Literary Fiction

2011 International Book Award for General Fiction