Karin Slaughter


"...Slaughter is such a consummate storyteller... "


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. Trent cannot begin to 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 neighbourhoods. Amanda and her partner, Evelyn, are the only ones who seem to care if an arrest is ever made.

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Criminal takes Amanda Wagner back to the 1970s, when her career in law enforcement was only beginning, and sexism and racism was rife in the police force during that time. It was strange to see a youthful Wagner lacking in confidence and experience, contrasting the traits she displays in previous novels. It was also good to find out the basis of her relationship with Will Trent which has been alluded to in previous story lines and only now fully explored. On a critical level, I found the continual moving back and forth from time only just manageable. This is done from a number of character's perspectives and I, at times found it difficult to keep track of who was who, and also at what point in time as many feature in both past and present. Regardless of this small niggle the plot, as you would expect from Slaughter, was excellent, if not rather gruesome at times. Sara Linton, who started as a whining and complaining character has now gone completely full circle and has turned into a veritable saint that says and does nothing to upset or annoy anyone (although for this reader some things she says and does still rankle!) I cannot help but have sympathy for Will who on one side has a harpy such as Angie and on the other, a sap like Sara. That is a real Hobson's choice. That said, Angie came some way to redeeming herself in 'Criminal'. Yet again, Slaughter is willing to put her neck out and write a book that taxes the mind of the reader. It doesn't always pay off, but Slaughter is such a consummate storyteller that you simply enjoy the unfolding story. 'Criminal' is a great addition to this series.

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