Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review of "Criminal" by Karin Slaughter [70]

Criminal: A Novel by Karin Slaughter
AudioGo, ISBN 978-1609982935
July 10, 2012

1975: In the blistering heat of an Atlanta summer, a killer prowls the street, searching for the weak, the vulnerable and the lost. Almost 40 years later, a young woman is found brutally murdered in a sordid high-rise apartment. The specifics of her death are detailed and macabre, but for Special Agent Will Trent they are startlingly familiar, and can only mean one thing. Desperate to deny this might be happening to him, he is forced to return to the home he grew up in, to the grimy crime-ridden streets, to a childhood he has spent the best part of his adult life trying to avoid. As the tension on the inner-city streets starts to simmer, Will becomes convinced that the clue to the killings now, and in 1975, may lie in his own past; a past that he hates yet feels responsible for. And that the killer is much, much closer to him than anyone thought possible.

I am a great fan of Slaughter and this is an excellent addition to her series.
The above description rather pains this book as being centered around Will Trent, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, a young man with a number of issues in his past and present. But actually, in my mind, this book is about someone else that we have met in a few of the previous books, his boss, head of the Special Criminal Apprehension Team, Amanda Wagner.
If you read the previous books, and you really must, we know there is more than a professional relationship between the two, something that goes back to Will's birth to a mother who was killed, to his growing up in an orphanage, to the scars that cover Will's body. Exactly what that connection is though was mostly a mystery, a mystery that will be revealed in this book. And what a story it is! Wow!

Part of the story is set in Atlanta in 1975 when Amanda and her fellow female cops were a rarity, a very unappreciated and abused rarity, in the police dept. But Amanda saw a wrong, the disappearance of several young prostitutes, being ignore and sets out, along with another woman cop, to try and discover the truth. And it will not be easy, because they will be attacked, often literally, on all sides in their quest. Those of us who know Amanda in the present day (well, it seems we know these people when you read all the books) may wonder what has made her the woman she is today...and this book will allow us to start and understand that. Let's just say, she has had some difficult things to overcome.

And of course we have can you not love Will?...and his now girlfriend Sara Linton, who has been in the Slaughter books since the beginning. Did I ever mention that I don't really like Sara? She is just too goody-goody, too noble. I like my characters more complex, more flawed, like Will and Amanda and my personal favorite who sadly does not appear in this book, Lena, a cop with Sara now deceased husband a few years ago. Talk about troubled...

But back to this book, Criminal.
I said I loved this book right? But it is not with a few issues.
I think it got off to a slow start...but the rip-roaring finish more than made up for that in my book. And the bouncing back in forth from the 70's to the present was a little confusing, even if it was totally necessary for the story ultimately.
Maybe that might have been due to the fact that I listened to the audio version of this book, a format I am, at times, not totally comfortable with. I will say though that I loved this book in audio as much as I have loved just about any book in audio. I am not expert, but I think the narrator did an outstanding job. She had to, to keep my wandering mind on course with this rather complex plot. Complex and excellent, and as always with Slaughter, leaving me on more than one occasion saying "WOW!' with an unexpected twist or turn.

In the past I have said that I think that any book in a series should be able to be read as a stand alone. Yes, I said that, and I mean it.
Except maybe for Slaughter's books.
Yes, each book is a very complete and separate story. Yes, each can be read alone and enjoyed. But they are SO much better if you read them in order. Plots overlap, characters reappear from other books, the story builds on aspects we already know. But with this one, you do not have to go back and read all 11 of Slaughter's books. No, you can just go back and read the previous books in the Georgia series, four books in all, Undone, Broken, Fallen, and Criminal. OK, six if you add in the two introducing Will, Triptych and Fractured.
Oh, just give in and start at the beginning and read them all!
You will not be sorry!


  1. I listened to one of the Will Trent books but didn't like the narrator and it ruined my experience of the book. I have this one in print!

    1. well, I must say I am partial to print... ;-)

  2. I'm partial to print too. I can't wait to read this one!

  3. Well that is about as much gush as I have EVER heard from you! I loved the narrator too, and I loved this book. It totally could stand alone, but it shouldn't have to because there is so much excellent background that adds to the total experience. Did you see Slaughter's meta website she did on Atlanta, then and now? And videos of female cops from the 70's? So so cool. I am so glad you won this, and I am so glad you loved it.

    1. Slaughter's books do have that effect on me....

    2. ..and thanks for the tip on the Slaughter website on Atlanta..that is very interesting, very cool. Were the 70's really like that? Wow, in 1975 I was in high school and had no idea we were all that silly


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