Review: The Last Widow – Karin Slaughter

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Will Trent #9

I received this in exchange for an honest review.

SYNOPSIS: A mysterious kidnapping

On a hot summer night, a scientist from the Centers for Disease Control is grabbed by unknown assailants in a shopping center parking lot. Vanished into thin air, the authorities are desperate to save the doctor.

A devastating explosion

One month later, the serenity of a sunny Sunday afternoon is shattered by the boom of a ground-shaking blast—followed by another seconds later. One of Atlanta’s busiest and most important neighborhood’s has been bombed—the location of Emory University, two major hospitals, the FBI headquarters, and the CDC.

A diabolical enemy

Medical examiner Sara Linton and her partner Will Trent, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene—and into the heart of a deadly conspiracy that threatens to destroy thousands of innocent lives. When the assailants abduct Sara, Will goes undercover to save her and prevent a massacre—putting his own life on the line for the woman and the country he loves. – via Goodreads

YES! YES! I was thrilled to receive an advance copy of this, you all know I am a ridiculously huge Karin Slaughter fan. I started this pretty much the second I got my hands on it, and I had no regrets. As with all Slaughter’s work (bar Pieces of Her), you will get sucked in almost immediately, and the story barrels along super fast.

The Last Widow flips between characters, telling the story simultaneously from differing perspectives, and it works so well. I absolutely love reading about Sara and Will, I think they are great together. It is a testament of Slaughter’s writing that she managed to merge two series so successfully, and especially how she brings Sara and Will together, and there is no resentment (because come on, Jeffrey man). The side characters don’t get as much focus in this one, making them more bit characters than usual, but that is alright.

I thought the story for The Last Widow was engrossing and interesting. The book  has it all – romance, action, drama, the works. Sara’s family makes an appearance again, and some truly hurtful things are said in that section, but it definitely contributes to all that goes on.The Last Widow is without a doubt a whirlwind read. The events take place really quickly, so the book is essentially a snapshot of time with characters we have grown to love over the years. I absolutely cannot wait for more in this series!

Review: Pieces of Her – Karin Slaughter

4

I received this book in exchange for an honest review. 

SYNOPSIS: What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all . . . ?

Andrea knows everything about her mother, Laura. She knows she’s spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Belle Isle; she knows she’s never wanted anything more than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she’s never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don’t we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura, she was someone completely different. For nearly thirty years she’s been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one would ever find her. But now she’s been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

The police want answers and Laura’s innocence is on the line, but she won’t speak to anyone, including her own daughter. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumb trail of her mother’s past. And if she can’t uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either one of them. . . . – via Goodreads

You know, I was beyond stoked when I got my hands on this book. You all know how deep a love I have for Karin Slaughter’s work, and there are few authors I get as excited about when they have a new book coming, so I was over the moon when I got my paws on this. My joy, however, was short lived.

It is not that I hated Pieces of Her, not at all, but I did not find it nearly as thrilling or as well crafted as Slaughter’s other work. I didn’t like any of the characters, which in and of itself is not something that would ruin a book for me, it’s just that I wasn’t keen on the story. Usually I am fascinated with cults, I really am, and I was interested to see where this would go, and in parts it is really good, and others it is just… bland.

I was so interested to read about the relationship between Andy and Laura, but it never really felt real for me. I did like Gordon. I seriously thought we had some espionage thriller on our hands, and then it went another way. I am seriously struggling to write a review for this. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. I just found it to be a bit of a chore to read in the sense that it did not hook me and take me captive, where I just had to know what was going on every second of the way. It is, without a doubt, the most disappointing Slaughter read I have ever read. That is all I can really say on it.

Review: Triptych – Karin Slaughter

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triptych

Will Trent / Atlanta #1

SYNOPSIS: In the city of Atlanta, women are dying—at the hands of a killer who signs his work with a single, chilling act of mutilation. Leaving behind enough evidence to fuel a frenzied police hunt, this cunning madman is bringing together dozens of lives, crossing the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries too. Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread—and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael’s lover before she became his enemy.

But another player has entered the game: a loser ex-con who has stumbled upon the killer’s trail in the most coincidental of ways—someone who may be the key to breaking the case wide open…  – via IMDB

Karin Slaughter has again proved how she is a phenomenal writer, and not just good for the Grant County series. We have met a whole new array of characters, some that tie into the Grant County series (such as Amanda Wagner that was the negotiator in Indelible) and others that are brand spanking new and fresh. It stands testament to Slaughter’s writing that she could bring in a whole new angle and story and still be good, and not be too caught up in her previous work – this stands alone really well.

The writing style is again tight and very well laid out, and the story skips between present, a few months prior to that, as well as the past from a couple of decades ago (yeah, this book is really aptly named). The story weaves together effortlessly and has you hooked from the beginning. It takes some time to get a read on certain characters (intentionally), and it just ratchets up the tension, too.

You get to learn about a new cast of characters, and they are fresh, new, and totally different from Grant County books. Will and Angie have such a heartbreaking past, and it is really difficult to read about. Their relationship is so dysfunctional, and it makes you pity them a bit more. Will Trent is a character you cannot help but adore the more you read about him, I am definitely a fan! Angie, on the other hand, is a right piece of work, but there is some part of her, so inextricably tied up with Will, and the relationship between them is so complex.

The story told in Triptych is a solid one, one that draws you in and delivers all the goods you could possibly hope for. The pacing is just right, the storytelling does not leave the reader lost and wondering what is going on, and you get pretty invested in the outcome as well as what is going on. I also quite enjoyed reading about the interactions between Will and Amanda, as that is something that is fascinating.

This is definitely a brilliant way to start a fresh story, independent from the comfort zone that she is used to, and she pulls it off so well! Man, Slaughter is totally my cup of tea. Flawed characters, loads of development, horrendous gore and a solid thriller? She never fails to impress me!

Review: Skin Privilege – Karin Slaughter

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skin privilege

Grant County #6

SYNOPSIS: Sara Linton–resident medical examiner/pediatrician in Grant County, Georgia, –has plenty of hardship to deal with, including defending herself in a heartbreaking malpractice suit. So when her husband, Police chief Jeffery Tolliver, learns that his friend and coworker detective Lena Adams has been arrested for murder and needs Sara’s help, she is not sure she can handle the pressure of it all.

But soon Sara and Jeffery are sitting through evidence, peeling back the layers of a mystery that grows darker by the day–until an intricate web of betrayal and vengeance begins to unravel. And suddenly the lives of Sara, Lena, and Jeffery are hanging by the slenderest of threads. – via Goodreads

GRADE 9Okay, just to clarify, this book is also known as Beyond Reach. You know, pesky publishers giving different UK/US titles. Moving right on. This book is amazing. Granted, it is told out of sequence and that might throw a few people (confuse them, that is, not put them off), but it is told precisely like it needs to be to convey the correct feeling and message. The book is highly emotional, what with Lena fighting past demons and the desperation of saving her uncle.

Then there is Jeffrey and Sara and their quest to adopt a child and start their very own family. This book is phenomenal, with a good story. You feel a part of it, the disjointed feel and not knowing what the hell is going on, so you totally understand how Jeffrey and Sara are feeling. Sara seems to be lacking a lot of her usual fiery self here, which is to be expected, too, what with her personal drama. I am really glad her and Jeffrey are married again though, they really work together. Ick, Ethan Green makes an appearance once more, and let me tell you, he is still a hateful animal, and totally ramps up the tension in this.

Man, Slaughter really went for some things in this book, some sore topics were breached, and, as always, the characters remained true to themselves and developed all the more. I was horrified to read that Hank had gone back to his old, junkie ways, as I have always viewed him as a much stronger character. I maintain Slaughter has fantastic characters, they are so well written that you get super attached to them all, and so feel for them throughout their trials, tribulations and joys.

The writing is, as to be expected, great, the story is solid, the events spine-tingling. The book draws you in completely and you go along with all the characters, seeing how the latest drama in their lives comes together and how it all fits, and what they will do. I thoroughly enjoy this book, and still think it a really solid conclusion to this series.

SPOILER: Goodness gracious me, but that ending :/ It totally crushed me, and yet I also thought it to be a ballsy move from the author. Well played Slaughter, well played. Now let me deal with my depression for a few days again and then I will move on with my life. Again. 

Review: Faithless – Karin Slaughter

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faithless

Grant County #5

SYNOPSIS: The victim was buried alive in the Georgia woods–then killed in a horrifying fashion. When Sara Linton and Jeffrey Tolliver stumble upon the body, both become consumed with finding out who killed the pretty young woman. For them, a harrowing journey begins, one that will test their own turbulent relationship and draw dozens of life into the case.

For as Jeffrey and Sara move further down a trail of shocking surprises and hidden passions, neither is prepared for the most stunning discovery of all: the identity of a killer who is more evil and dangerous than anyone could have guessed. – via Goodreads

Karin Slaughter does not cease to amaze me at the rate she is able to tell a story, and the thought, research and character development that goes into it. Faithless might not (for me) have been as amazing as the others, but it is by no means less of a book, to be sure. The read barrels along and presents an interesting story, and gives the characters we have grown to love more to fight through, deal with, and develop more.

Jeffrey and Sara never seem to catch a break. These two fit, but I still feel that Sara is selfish and entitled when it comes to Jeffrey, and he constantly allows her that. I know he screwed up in their past, but it takes two for a marriage to get to that place. Anyway. Also, her superiority when snapping at Hare was so uncalled for, because she, too, would have done exactly the same thing. It’s almost as though she expects different treatment because it is her. Selfish.

Let’s not even forget to mention Lena when it comes to selfish. That woman has wrecked herself completely. Like for reals. I know she went through crap, but instead of coming out stronger, she has collapsed, and Ethan still plays a large part in all going on with her. I also wish she was better to Hank. They are more similar than she realises, and she really treats him like crap.

Once again, Karin Slaughter shows that she is not scared to deal with real issues, things that affect people more than credit is given. The story is fast paced and detailed, I would expect no less. More character flaws and details are released in this story, as well as epiphanies that are reached, and the simplicity of honesty and friendship is highlighted. All in all, a very solid novel that is definitely worthy of joining the ranks of its predecessors.

Review: Indelible – Karin Slaughter

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indelible cover

Grant County #4

SYNOPSIS: An officer is shot point-blank in the Grant County police station and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver is wounded, setting off a terrifying hostage situation with medical examiner Sara Linton at the center. Working outside the station, Lena Adams, newly reinstated to the force, and Frank Wallace, Jeffrey’s second in command, must try to piece together who the shooter is and how to rescue their friends before Jeffrey dies. For the sins of the past have caught up with Sara and Jeffrey – with a vengeance … – via IMDB

GRADE 8Man, I feel that this book is super rewarding, especially for those of us who truly enjoy the relationship between Sara and Jeffrey. Every book gives us a piece here and there to keep us going, but not really an awful lot to chew on. Indelible kicks it up with telling a modern crime deeply embroiled in the past, and it all ties together really well.

I was glad to not have to read all about Lena and her crap in this one (trust me, it cropped up, but it didn’t dominate as much as usual). I was far more hooked on reading about the early stages between Sara and Jeffrey, to see how well things started, to know how they went sour, and to see how they are struggling to bring things together. That being said, the struggling is totally because Sara is being selfish. Just saying. It is so interesting to read more about where Jeffrey is from. We know a lot more about Sara, but not an awful lot about Jeffrey, and to see where he came from and what has done with himself is great.

Jumping between the past and the present didn’t frustrate me one little bit in this book, as it just works. Again, the consistency Slaughter writes with is amazing. The little characteristics, idiosyncrasies, phrases, etc. of the characters she sprinkles throughout the book that look like throwaway things that actually aren’t are so cool. I like it. The characters that Slaughter has built are like real people to me, which is a rarity for an author to legitimately achieve. They do not come across as forced, and I like it. You cheer for them, hurt for them, stress with them, commisserate with them, understand them as well as get angry with them.

Indelible is another solid offering from Karin Slaughter. The writing style breezes along and the story is engaging from the off, dragging you in completely and rewarding you with new characters, incidents, and a juicy chunk of the past shared by Sara and Jeffrey. Recommended.

Review: A Faint Cold Fear – Karin Slaughter

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a faint cold fear cover

Grant County #3

SYNOPSIS: Sara Linton, medical examiner in the small town of Heartsdale, Georgia, is called out to an apparent suicide on the local college campus. The mutilated body provides little in the way of clues — and the college authorities are eager to avoid a scandal — but for Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, things don’t add up.

Two more suspicious suicides follow, and a young woman is brutally attacked. For Sara, the violence strikes far too close to home. And as Jeffrey pursues the sadistic killer, he discovers that ex-police detective Lena Adams, now a security guard on campus, may be in possession of crucial information. But, bruised and angered by her expulsion from the force, Lena seems to be barely capable of protecting herself, let alone saving the next victim… – via Goodreads

I promise, Karin Slaughter does an absolute bang up job of maintaining a fast paced, well written story, with a plot to boot. Following Lena’s story is both sad and frustrating, though you can understand how she ended up where she is. But I think it is bad that her situation is so messed up and she is not willing to change a thing about it, but completely prepared to worsen it. Let’s not even forget how she could get involved with white supremacist scum like Ethan. Ugh! Anyway, her self destructive behaviour is highlighted excellently here.

The grief was almost palpable at times in this one, and I think Tessa suffered a terrible injustice, and I found it very difficult to follow how mad the Lintons were with Sara and Jeffrey, though I understand fear makes you strike out and blame whoever is the nearest in the vicinity, whoever can bear the mantle to quell your emotions is the one that bears the brunt.

Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship is one of the more realistic ones I have read of in a novel, because it is not all lust and perfection, and being the perfect partner. Real emotions come in to play here, and the dynamic they share is more believable; they both have their selfish moments together, yet they both also have a selflessness that comes to the fore sometimes, because every now and then no matter what you feel about a situation or your needs, they have to take the backseat to your partners needs and requirements. I absolutely love reading about these two together, though I do feel Sara is a touch harsh to Jeffrey sometimes. A lot of times. She yanks him around too much and should just get her crap together. He deserves better.

Also, some fights between Sara and Jeffrey in this one were (again) about Lena, but the one time that Sara’s defending Lena and I am with Jeffrey on this. Lena has made her choices. There was a lot of fighting going on all over the show in this book, tensions running high and all of that. I am glad to see Nan and Lena getting along better though, seriously.

A Faint Cold Fear is well written and engaging, drawing you in and feeding you more of the story concerning some amazing characters. There is a lot of development going on, too, and I like that. Slaughter is amazing, and this series hooks me every time without fail. Worth the read.

Top Ten Books I Read In 2017

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So I decided to put together a list of the top ten new (to me) books that I have read this year. Now, I read some amazing books this year, but I also read some really meh books, so without further ado, here are the ten books I enjoyed the most this year.

10. Her Last Day – T. R. Ragan

I was quite impressed with Ragan’s newest offering, especially considering that I am not really a fan of the Lizzy Gardner books. I found this one to be similar but refreshing, featuring a much better story and characters that actually interest me and come across as more realistic. Worth the read, and I will certainly be checking out more books in this series as they come along.

9. The Killer Inside Me – Jim Thompson

First book I have ever read from Jim Thompson, definitely encourages me to check out more! The book is creepy in that it gets under your skin, telling the story from the perspective of a criminal, where you get a good look-see inside the mind. I liked it a lot, and I believe there is a movie now, too. I will certainly be looking into that.

8. The Innocent Wife – Amy Lloyd

Man, was this just something else or what? A debut novel from Amy Lloyd and all! The book tells the story of a woman who falls in love with and marries a man on death row, and we all know how morbidly fascinating that is. Well, The Innocent wife is well worth the read, and I will definitely be keeping my eyes peeled for more from her in future.

7. The Hazel Wood – Melissa Albert

Man, I really liked this. Fantastical, magical, dark adventure, and I quite enjoyed undertaking this journey. It sweeps you up and carries you away, and it is well worth the read.

6. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

Indeed, it took me far too long to read this, but I am glad that I have. I totally get why this book is a classic. It reads pretty easily and has plenty sass and humour to it as well as a ton of social commentary, all the while going with the classic girl meets guy she hates but later doesn’t story. I was so hooked on this, and can see this being something I will return to time and time again.

5. It – Stephen King

This was one of my monster reads of the year, and I have no regrets. It is such a good book. While not King’s greatest work, it is a mammoth story that engages you throughout, and has some truly amazing character work going on. It is such a coming of age story mixed in with some solid horror, and was worth every second I spent on it.

4. The Bone Collector – Jefferey Deaver

Heck yeah, I am so stoked to finally have started this series, and it’s been a blast! The Bone Collector is one hell of an opening for a series, and I truly enjoy reading about Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs. The book reads fast, has so many great twists and has plenty good humour and is good fun while still having some grit to it.

3. The Roanoke Girls – Amy Engel

This book was so my cup of tea. Oh yes. It is dark and gritty and explores some heavy themes, and is set out in such away you are drawn in. Amy Engel was also super cool about it all on Twitter, and I always appreciate it when an author/writer/director/actor/whatever gets involved with their fans. The Roanoke Girls explores a taboo subject, and the book is quite compelling and fascinating throughout, and tells the story of Roanoke in a really chilling way. Plus Cooper is book crush of the year for me. #JustSaying

2. The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter 

I love Karin Slaughter. She’s amazing, and a brilliantly talented writer. This was probably the book I was most excited for this year, and let me tell you, it did not let me down at all. I was yanked in from page one and got so super invested in the lives of Charlie and Sam. Wow, what a story. I loved it, and could highly recommend this Slaughter standalone. Ballsy, heavy, some absolutely fantastic humour and great characters, this is the definition of a fantastic read.

1. 11/22/63 – Stephen King

Anyone who has been reading this blog knows that, after I finished this book in January 2017, I have yet to stop hanging. This book blew my mind apart. What an amazing read! If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour, do it. Don’t let the size put you off. King weaves a masterful story with amazing characters. 11/22/63 is engaging, sharp, and stays with you long after. Yes, I am a Kennedy assassination junkie, so this was going to appeal to me, but the book is ultimately more than just attempting to stop Kennedy’s assassination. Read it. Do it. Now.

Review: Kisscut – Karin Slaughter

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kisscut

Grant County #2

SYNOPSIS: Saturday night dates at the skating rink have been a tradition in the small southern town of Heartsdale for as long as anyone can remember, but when a teenage quarrel explodes into a deadly shoot-out, Sara Linton–the town’s pediatrician and medical examiner–finds herself entangled in a terrible tragedy.

What seemed at first to be a horrific but individual catastrophe proves to have wider implications. The autopsy reveals evidence of long-term abuse, of ritualistic self -mutilation, but when Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver start to investigate, they are frustrated at every turn.

The children surrounding the victim close ranks. The families turn their backs. Then a young girl is abducted, and it becomes clear that the first death is linked to an even more brutal crime, one far more shocking than anyone could have imagined. Meanwhile, detective Lena Adams, still recovering from her sister’s death and her own brutal attack, finds herself drawn to a young man who might hold the answers. But unless Lena, Sara, and Jeffrey can uncover the deadly secrets the children hide, it’s going to happen again . . . – via Goodreads

Man, another dark, solid entry into the series. Again, miss Slaughter holds nothing back, and delves into a depth of storytelling that a lot of writers will not touch with a ten foot barge pole. I could feel anger radiating off of me while reading this book, because she manages to write in emotions that you are able to identify with.

Lena is still dealing with losing her sister and the brutality that she went through, and there are some shifts and changes in the relationship between her and Hank, which I liked. Lena is such a bitch, and it does not endear her to me in these novels. Even in the last, I did not see her as a strong woman so much as an irritation, but that is just the character. Jeffrey I felt so bad for in this, as he has a lot on his plate, and executing a child can never be an easy thing, no matter what the circumstances. Sara is quite a complex character, one you fluctuate between liking and disliking. Again, the flaws of these people make them real.

I appreciate that there are things changing between Sara and Jeffrey, as I really think they are good together. Yes, there are issues, but they also bring out good things in each other. I also really love reading about Sara and her family, as it really makes for interesting reading, and I really like Eddie and Cathy Linton. But now that we have moved past those things, it must not be missed that Kisscut is an exceptionally difficult read, and I mean this from the content side, not the writing side (which is, as always, excellent). It will get under your skin, it will peeve you, it will make you think, it will make you angry. Slaughter again proves that she is not scared to get her hands dirty.

Kisscut is a fantastic read, well written and well researched, a great read for any time, chilling to the bone as always, and I highly recommend this series (of course). This is by no means an easy read, but it is gutsy and draws you in. The story flows, and gives you more to look at with the characters, fleshing them out more and more, and then there is the story, the victims, the mystery. Everyone has their own demons, and I appreciate how Slaughter can give you a main story and still weave these people’s lives outside of the story in.

Review: Blindsighted – Karin Slaughter

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karin slaughter blindsighted cover

Grant County #1

SYNOPSIS: A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it’s only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer’s twisted work becomes clear. Sara’s ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, leads the investigation — a trail of terror that grows increasingly macabre when another local woman is found crucified a few days later. But he’s got more than a sadistic serial killer on his hands, for the county’s sole female detective, Lena Adams — the first victim’s sister — wants to serve her own justice. But it is Sara who holds the key to finding the killer. A secret from her past could unmask the brilliantly malevolent psychopath .. or mean her death. – via Goodreads

I have been reading Karin Slaughter’s work for years. My love affair with her books and her characters started with this book, something I randomly stumbled upon years ago, totally by accident, and then I was hooked. Just like that, it was all over for me. Blindsighted is one of the best debut novels I have ever read from an author.

Slaughter wastes no time setting up her characters, and before you know it, you are invested in them, their lives, their everything. She has an earnest way of writing, and it makes the characters real, bringing them to life from the pages, and that is not an easy thing to do. The novel also doesn’t suffer from stiff writing, like some debuts do. The story flows, and Slaughter also does not hold back the punches, and is not scared of getting her hands dirty. She does not shy away from heinous details, and they are also not just thrown in to shock. They are there to serve a purpose .

The book is fast paced, bold, brutal, and is written in a way that is flows effortlessly. It makes for an intense, albeit quick, read. Slaughter really is one hell of a storyteller. The tales she weaves and the characters are strong and well presented. The story had the perfect balance that simulates real life intersecting a terrible tragedy. For a debut novel, this truly blew my mind. I also appreciate that the situations were not too far out there like usual for some novels, so strong points for her there as it gives it a feel of the events being viable. Also, she deals with real issues, from romance, relationships, friendships, to issues still riddling the South.

Blindsighted is a fantastic debut novel, and I have been hooked from this very first book. Dark, brutal, violent, with characters that are so real that you get invested in, I cannot recommend Slaughter’s work enough. The Grant County series is a fantastic series, and would definitely say that this is worth the read if you are into gritty, nasty crime thrillers that have darkness and guts.