What’s it all about?:
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.
What did I think?:
Let it be known I’m a big fan of Karin Slaughter’s work, and when I was first discovered her, beginning with the wonderful Blindsighted in 2001, I gobbled up her novels almost as soon as they were released. But recently, I have been a bit of a naughty Slaughter fan and fallen behind a bit which I aim to remedy now that I have read her latest story in the Will Trent series, Criminal, originally published in 2012. The other beloved main character who we got to know from the very start, Dr Sara Linton, does not make much of an appearance in this novel, but there is plenty of Will Trent to go round, which should please all Slaughter followers! I have to say, Will Trent is one of the most fascinating characters I have ever read about. He has had a difficult past which he is trying to put behind him now he is flying high with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (well apart from being on airport duty that is), and best of all, he’s probably met the love of his life which is allowing him to put a lot of those old demons to rest. You would think…
Criminal sees Will’s past delved into more meticulously and horrifically than ever before as a recent disappearance of a college student is being dealt with rather cryptically by Will’s boss, the indomitable Amanda Wagner. Wagner is desperately trying to keep Will off the case, but for what reason? The mystery only deepens when the two run into each other by coincidence in an abandoned building which used to be the orphanage where Will grew up. Flash back forty years, and we get to see more of Amanda’s past, as she struggles to carry out her duties as a policewoman against brutal gender discrimination. Women in the police force in the seventies were seen as a bit of a novelty and were often given the “softer” or easier crimes to deal with due to their apparent delicacy. Reading about this period in history was absolutely fascinating and I was pleased that we got to see the younger Wagner prior to her reputation as a bit of a “ball breaker.” Amanda and her partner Evelyn Mitchell (Faith’s mum, Slaughter fans) are sent to investigate the murder of a prostitute, deemed relatively safe by the superiors but as the case begins to take off, Amanda discovers that she got a bit more than she bargained for.
How does this all fit in with Will and the present day case? Well, that would spoil it, but be prepared for those juicy little nuggets of information the author gives out as we switch between time frames and slot each piece of the puzzle into place. The only problem I could envision is how Will was going to cope and if he had enough strength to deal with the ghosts of his past and put them firmly into the realms of history. Again, as with all of Slaughter’s thrillers, the character development is superb and I loved how we got to learn a bit more about Amanda Wagner, who I have always had a secret soft spot for. I should probably put a warning out there and say there is a bit of graphic violence which needs a hardy stomach, but I think it is always dealt with in a way that makes you want to turn the pages rather than vomit all over them. I think fans of Karin Slaughter will be very excited about this recent addition to the Will Trent series but if you’re new to her, I recommend you check out Blindsighted first. Of course Criminal can be read as a stand-alone, but knowing the background of some of the characters and knowledge of certain main events in the main characters lives will definitely make for a more pleasurable reading experience.
Would I recommend it?:
But of course!
Star rating (out of 5):