Karin Slaughter has brought her readers another rather grim novel dealing with subjects one tends to try to avoid, dealing with abuse and sadistic acts perpetrated by men upon the most vulnerable members of society. The writing is not without flaws, albeit minor ones, and is at times repetitious, but these instances are few and brief and one is soon again caught up in this strange tale of a sadistic serial killer [a redundancy perhaps?] who has been kidnapping young, successful woman and raping, torturing and bringing them nearly to the point of death. Two women – they are apparently kidnapped and held prisoner in twos – manage to escape, although only one survives. And soon two more have disappeared and are feared suffering the same fate.
The wonderfully real and human cops – or rather, inspectors working for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Will Trent and his partner, Faith Mitchell, are assigned to the investigation. It soon appears that along with every suspect they come across in this case, they themselves also have their secrets which they are reluctant to reveal even to those with whom they have to work most closely. And that includes Dr. Sara Linton, still recovering from the death of her cop husband over three years ago. They are very well-drawn and sympathetic characters. Whereas the others, the victims and the suspects with secrets of their own which they are loathe to reveal, not nearly so much.
Even small and not so small roles are drawn with sufficient detail as to make them flesh and blood. And by the way, there is plenty of that in evidence as well – the book is not for the squeamish, although there is not too much of it graphically displayed, but the reader is always aware of it. The author has created here a novel of intense suspense and gripping reading, but beyond that, I felt that Ms. Slaughter has managed a very difficult feat, not often accomplished by authors of popular fiction, i.e., to capture some very personal emotions, such as grief after having lost a beloved spouse, with perfect accuracy, sufficient to bring tears to the eyes of the reader who may recognize them as his or her own. As well, I found the author’s observation that “you didn’t realize what was passing you by until you slowed down a little bit to get a better look,” although admittedly only a variation of “stop and smell the roses,” to be nonetheless particularly pithy. The investigation takes place over a four-day period, the electrifying scenes mount in pace and suspense to the dramatic ending, and the pages didn’t turn fast enough for this reader. Highly recommended.