Karin Slaughter is a great writer. She proves it with every new book she writes. She is great; she is unique; she is profound. Her latest novel COP TOWN proves all of these facts. Once again she pulls her readers into a twisted tale of mystery and keeps them fascinated from start to finish. COP TOWN is not part of her usual series of books that are focused either on Grant County or Will Trent. This is a stand alone novel that introduces new characters and they are just as interesting and appealing as any she has created in the past.
Maggie Lawson and Kate Murphy are police officers in Atlanta in 1974. Maggie has been on the force for a while but Kate is a newbie. They don't seem to have much in common but the streets of Atlanta bond them in a very short time. Maggie comes from a family of police officers. Her Uncle Terry and her brother Jimmy are both on the force. Kate is a young widow who comes from a prominent Atlanta family. She is an unlikely candidate for a police career but she is determined to make a success of it.
On the first day on the job Kate is teamed up with Maggie's brother Jimmy . This only lasts a short time and he quickly pawns her off on Maggie. He wants to be free to pursue a serial killer called the Shooter who is killing Atlanta police officers. Jimmy's partner Don was his latest victim.
Maggie wants to help find this killer but she is laughed at when she offers to help. Female officers are good for writing tickets, not investigating homicides, is the going attitude. Still she drags her new partner Kate into the hunt.
Slaughter has an uncanny ability to create characters who burst to life right off the pages of her story. With just a few words the reader begins to know and understand them. By the end of COP TOWN you feel you have absorbed everything about Maggie and Kate you need to know. And now you want a whole series of books just about them.
Atlanta is a character in this novel just as much as the two women. Slaughter takes you through the streets of the city and lets you absorb the texture of the town neighborhood by neighborhood. The images that arise of Atlanta in the 1970's are not always pretty but you get the feeling this is a place Slaughter knows intimately and loves.
Some people avoid Slaughter's books because of the grit and the gore, but that is their main selling point. They take you down into the trenches and expose you to what life is really like in the situations her characters encounter. These stories are not prettied up but by design are harshly realistic. A Karin Slaughter book would not be a Karin Slaughter book were it not so.
Karin Slaughter books are always good reads but somehow this latest novel, COP TOWN, is even better than she usually writes. That is high praise indeed.
COP TOWN is published by Delacourte Press. It contains 416 pages and sells for $27.00.
Jackie K Cooper