Karin Slaughter’s “Criminal” is Just That

Posted 28 July, 2012 by Allison Hiltz in Book Reviews, Fiction / 0 Comments

Karin Slaughter’s “Criminal” is Just ThatCriminal by Karin Slaughter
on 2012
Pages: 448
Genres: Fiction, Mystery/Thriller

From Goodreads: 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 his father was imprisoned for murder, this was Will’s home. It appears that the case that launched Amanda’s career forty years ago has suddenly come back to life—and it involves the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. Now 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.

This was my first book by international bestseller Karin Slaughter and the book’s description grabbed me right away. It has crime spanning 20 years, a mysterious connection between the two main characters and a dash of a love story thrown in.  While the book was a good read and I recommend it, it wasn’t the masterpiece it has been called by other reviewers.

The book follows two main characters, Amanda and Will, who work with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Amanda is a generation older than Will and was a female police officer in the 1970’s. There are a lot of secrets, gruesome crimes and twists and turns that keep the reader going well into the wee hours of the morning. The story jumps back and forth from the 1970’s to today (with different narrators) and does a great job encapsulating the challenges female officers faced only a few decades ago. Plus, it throws in some girl power without trying to hard. It’s always nice to see some realistic kick-butt female characters.

The first half of the book was a bit choppy and skipped around a lot. I had to readjust my frame of mind on more than one occasion to figure out which character I was reading about. This resolved itself in the second half, although I’m not sure if it was because I became accustomed to it or because it flowed better. My guess is that it was the latter simply because of the way the story was unfolding.  Regardless, the author really hit her stride in the second half of the book and I can see why she is such an acclaimed crime writer.

The second half of the book included a lot of details regarding homicides, dead bodies, autopsies and anatomy. These areas are definitely where the author is most comfortable and I flew through these parts. I’m not sure whether she has a medical background, but the way she writes about medical procedures has a very familiar feel to it.

The one thing that I didn’t understand about the book was the personal relationship between the main character and a woman named Sara. Their courtship seemed forced, as if it was thrown in at the last minute to appease a certain group of readers. If the entire relationship was removed, it would not have affected the storyline at all.

But in the end, I recommend this book. It has a great story that is full of twists and turns and if you like crime novels, this one is very well written in that regard. It has some great foreshadowing, with well-placed hints that you only pick up on after the fact. I can honestly say that the end of the book packed some punch and surprised me, which is always a treat.



Allison Hiltz
Allison is a voracious reader, Law & Order aficionado, serial napper, shark conservationist, and crazy coffee drinker. She is currently pursuing her graduate degree in Public Policy and lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two rescue dogs. She can be contacted at allison(at)thebookwheelblog(dot)com.
Allison Hiltz

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