Criminal by Karin Slaughter

Criminal by Karin Slaughter

The past will always find you.

A woman is found brutally murdered in a sordid Atlanta apartment.

Her blood-soaked body bears a startling similarity to a woman found dead almost 40 years earlier.

Soon Special Agent Will Trent finds himself returning to the home he grew up in. And a past that could hold the clue to the killings.

Slaughter has done it again! A complex and well-paced read, Criminal is set over two timelines – 1974-5 and present time – both allowing a very different read and atmosphere, both evoking very different feelings. I don’t know why I was surprised at how different they would be but the contrast is stunning and on turning the final page I couldn’t shake the idea that I’d been reading two separate books that were cleverly entwined. A truly remarkable achievement to make them so unlike yet somehow fit, but I guess that’s just one mark of an accomplished author and Karin certainly pulls it off.

One of the main things I was looking forward to with this book was the opportunity to learn more about Amanda – to some extent Evelyn’s back story – and how she came to be a police officer and her struggles dealing with a patronising, sexist and racist 1970’s in the Atlanta police force – it doesn’t disappoint.

A fledgling police officer Amanda has to deal with a police force that is in torment, racism is rife and sexism prevalent. Women were expected to know their place and stay in the kitchen not out on the streets looking for killers and rapists; this is where both Amanda and Evelyn buck the trend. Not prepared to stay chained to a cooker and do housework they risk their lives investigating the disappearance of prostitutes and hunt a killer – much to the chagrin of their male counterparts. There’s a lot of animosity within the department and the men never miss a chance to peg the girls back and put them in their place.

Criminal is a dark book and only the effervescent personalities of Amanda and Evelyn manage to light up the gloom. Evelyn is incredibly funny and some of the things she came out with – and let’s not forget her one liners – made me chuckle but I just couldn’t shake how bad things were back in the seventies. Slaughter does a magnificent job with Amanda’s past and the expectations in 1970 compared to that of 2012 couldn’t be further apart.

It’s quite shocking in a way and the thought of sending out female police officers to a dangerous part of the city with no back up, black spots and no mobile phones is beyond belief – I mean how did they survive back then?! This ain’t Charlie’s Angels! Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the development of DNA – or lack thereof – and how the coroner and medical examiner worked forty years ago and the treatment of cold cases. It all helps to set a provocative and intense foundation.

Slowly but surely the book evolves and the two timelines gel together seamlessly and the final 100 pages fly by with one discovery after the other but one thing you can be certain of, it all fits.  I loved the ending, in fact the final page had me looking to the future and my mind was working overtime trying to figure out what happens next. I won’t get it of course but it’s fun imagining the various possibilities, that’s the great thing about a well written book – the story never truly ends.

Another magnificent read, Karin Slaughter certainly knows how to deliver time and time again. Not one to be rushed the author takes her time and gradually builds up the tension until the story explodes in the final few chapters. One not to be missed, the final page will certainly leave you open mouthed and wondering what’s next.

Available to buy in Hardcover and Kindle.

·  Hardcover: 448 pages

  • Publisher: Century (5 July 2012)
  • ISBN-10: 1846057965
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846057960
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