A new book by Karin Slaughter is always cause for celebration for me (and my cats, who are also especially fond of her stories, because they have excellent taste). Her character Will Trent is one that occupies a special place in my heart because for all his many positive attributes, he is flawed…he is human. He has a past, and he has secrets.
If you’ve read any of the books featuring Will Trent, then you also know the other characters that feature in his stories, including medical adviser and love interest Dr. Sara Linton, his partner Faith Mitchell, his boss, Amanda Wagner, Faith’s mom, Evelyn, and Will’s wife, Angie Polaski. You’ll be happy to hear that they’re all back in CRIMINAL, in ways that will leave readers breathless.
CRIMINAL is the story of two cases. In one, which happens in the present day, a young woman is missing. Amanda won’t let Will work on the case, which is driving him batty. This case is intertwined with the story of a similar disappearance that happened in 1975, when Amanda and Evelyn were cops with the Atlanta Police Department, at a time when women were still relatively new to the force. I really don’t want to spoil any of the story for you, and so the only other thing I’ll tell you is that both these cases are tied to Will’s (and Angie’s) past and his secrets, both those he has kept and those kept from him.
I’m not normally a fan of stories (or movies or TV shows, for that matter) that happen in two different timeframes, but Slaughter weaves the two together with such incredible grace that even linear readers like me will have no trouble following both. The picture she paints of Atlanta in 1975 is perfectly detailed—neither too meticulous nor too hazy —and every aspect rings true, probably because Slaughter researches as well as any author ever has. When I read the acknowledgements at the end of the book, too, I realized that part of her skill in bringing the mid-1970s to life is probably because of her age. She and I were born the same year (within days of each other, I hasten to add), and I grew up with a fascination about this timeframe, in which my mom was a professional in what had been an all-male industry (newspapers).
Anyone who knows me knows too that I’m generally not a big fan of “feminist” rhetoric. It’s not that I think women should be oppressed—not at all—but rather than the rhetoric often times rings untrue to me. I mean, my mom didn’t have a career to make a political statement; she worked because my parents needed the money and because she loved writing and was good at it. Through each of her female characters, Slaughter brings the difficulties faced by modern pioneer women to life without for a single moment being preachy.
If you have any doubt at all that Karin Slaughter is one of the finest storytellers America has ever produced, CRIMINAL will erase it. The plot is both intricate and detailed, one into which readers will happily fall.
Buy the Book:
Karin was very kind to do an interview with character Will Trent with me last year. You can read it here.
Watch the trailer: