2012: #41 – Criminal (Karin Slaughter)

Title: Criminal
Author: Karin Slaughter
Series: Will Trent #07
Format: ARC paperback
Pages:  448
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Source: ARC from Amazon

Karin Slaughter’s new novel is an epic tale of love, loyalty, and murder that encompasses forty years, two chillingly similar murder cases, and a good man’s deepest secrets.

Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Newly in love, he is beginning to put a difficult past behind him. Then a local college student goes missing, and Will is inexplicably kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot fathom Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. Decades before—when Will’s father was imprisoned for murder—this was his home. . . .

Flash back nearly forty years. In the summer Will Trent was born, Amanda Wagner is going to college, making Sunday dinners for her father, taking her first steps in the boys’ club that is the Atlanta Police Department. One of her first cases is to investigate a brutal crime in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. Amanda and her partner, Evelyn, are the only ones who seem to care if an arrest is ever made.

Now the case that launched Amanda’s career has suddenly come back to life, intertwined with the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. And these two dauntless investigators will each need to face down demons from the past if they are to prevent an even greater terror from being unleashed.

A masterpiece of character, atmosphere, and riveting suspense, Criminal is the most powerful and moving novel yet from one of our most gifted storytellers at work today.

My thoughts:

I am a big fan of Will Trent, and this one goes back to his well-hidden roots. We also learn more about Amanda, and why she is so invested in Will’s well-being. In fact, Amanda’s story is probably the more enlightening of the two. We already know that Will’s upbringing sucked, and that his father was a criminal. What we get that is more surprising is a softer side of Amanda. She’s relatively new on a police force that doesn’t yet know what to do with women who don’t spend all day typing. On top of that, her father is a major presence in her life, for better or worse. By making friends with other female officers and striking out on her own to investigate a case no one wants to acknowledge, she’s stepping way out of her comfort zone and possibly killing her budding career.

I like Karin Slaughter’s writing, though I haven’t yet picked up her Grant County series. Sara (from that series) is still in Will’s life, but she has some difficulty dealing with what the books revelations are doing to him. To her credit, she sticks with him, and to his credit, he lets her, despite his basest instincts.

One thing that is great about this book is the different atmospheres. With part of the book taking place in the present and part of it in the mid-70s, the story lines just felt different. The steamy, sweaty, disgusting heat of that Atlanta summer just jumped off the page.

Will remains one of my favorite lead detectives, and I look forward to seeing where he goes next.

Available from: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | IndieBound | WorldCat

Other reviews:

  • “Slaughter proves once again just how skillful she is as a writer by creating a complex series of plots, which twist, turn, and come together in unexpected ways.”Rundpinne
  • “Interweaving the current case with flashbacks to a series of unsolved murders which took place during Wagner’s rookie year as a plainclothes detective in 1975, Slaughter adds immeasurable layers of nuance to two characters who were already more complex than most you find in crime fiction.”Elizabeth A. White
  • “CRIMINAL is a patchwork of social issues all influencing the characters and their environments, shaping who they are and will become.” Jen’s Book Thoughts

One thought on “2012: #41 – Criminal (Karin Slaughter)

  • October 30, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    I listened to one Will Trent book and struggled with it because the narrator’s Southern accents were so bad it drove me to distraction. I need to try one of the books in print.


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