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I love a good crime fiction novel so when I was presented with a buy one get one free voucher on crime fiction novels, this was one of the ones I chose. I had previously bought one of Karin Slaughter's novels on audio CD and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would read one of her books.
This book is part of a series featuring Detective Jeffrey Tolliver and a part time medical examiner Sarah Linton. It is number 5 of her series featuring these characters.
Although I started half way through the series it wasn't too daunting as the story started with lots of history about what had happened in other novels and effectively filled the reader in on the details.
The story starts with Sarah and Jeffrey taking a walk when they stumble over a boy that has been buried in the ground in a box. They fall over an air tube which was sticking out of the ground. This indicates that the girl was buried alive and died in the box. After carrying out the autopsy Sarah reveals some terrifying truths about what happened to the girl which leads them to an isolated, god fearing community in the next county. The story then carries on going back and forth to the community in order to find out what happened to the girl.
I was quite disappointed by this book. I like my crime novels fast paced, making me not want to put it down, but this novel had the opposite effect. The chapters were very long and often, if I put the book down in the middle of a chapter I would start reading again and forget what had happened. There were several boring bits where the same information would be repeated, or it would involve too much description. Sometimes it would even take too long to do things as well and I got bored.
After the initial body is found there are not many other interesting murders. The best one is near the end when one of the characters dies because he is poisoned. The description of how he died and the sudden, unexpected nature of the death causes excitement.
I have found that Karin Slaughter often concentrates a lot on family life as well as the murder in hand and there are no exceptions in this book. Sarah and Jeffrey have had a difficult relationship throughout the series and this story brings them together a bit more. I think the home life part of the story helps set up the characters but often can be over done and slightly off putting from the rest of the story.
I probably wouldn't read this book again but I would like to read the rest of the books in the series to find out what happens between Sarah and Jeffrey and to see if all of the books are as slow as this or more of them are as gripping as they are made out to be.
Dr Sara Linton and her husband Chief Jeffrey Tolliver are arguing in the woods backing on to Sara's parent's house when Jeffrey falls over a metal pipe coming out of the ground. They look closer and realise there is something hard buried under the ground. Digging down with their bare hands they find a wooden box and prying open the boards reveals a young girls dead body - hands still in claw shapes as she scratched to be let out of her make shift coffin. Someone had buried her alive and Sara and Jeffrey had their work cut out finding out who did this.
The young girl's family are a secluded bunch who run a soy bean farm and employ ex-cons as they get out of prison and dead beat druggies who need somewhere to try and straighten out. They run their farm like their home and preach Jesus and the bible to everyone around them. They are certainly not the norm but Jeffrey cannot quite find a way in to dig deeper into their unusual lifestyles.
Karin Slaughter has written lots of books in the Grant County series so far and this is the fifth book I have read so far. I have really enjoyed the continuity of the characters and have grown with them as more is revealed about each one with each passing book. This was no exception and I welcomed them back like an old friend, however the story line here didn't grab me as quickly as her previous books had done.
I think it was a slower pace than other stories she had written about Jeffrey and Sara and although the initial find of the dead girl was early on in the book, it then became a little bit laborious in the resulting criminal case as Jeffrey piled through interviews and clues.
It was clear from the start for me where the baddies were and I don't think Slaughter meant to try and hide any surprises for us as the reader this time. It was never told outright what went on until very near to the end but it was almost a case of clarification as you read the book rather than revealing and I didn't enjoy this so much.
I like the fact that it was an even book in terms of characters though, as the last few have leant more towards one or the other in terms of character involvement. Jeffrey's best Detective, Lena Adams, features heavily in all the books but in the last couple it was either Lena or Jeffrey and Sara that took centre stage and in Faithless I found it much more evened up and this was a nice change.
The murders in this book were much less gruesome than previous instalments as well and this left me somewhat disappointed to be honest. The thing I had liked about Slaughter was her ability to cover topics I had not read about before, and although being buried alive is pretty nasty, we are party to it after the event and it didn't seem to hold the same impact for me.
Overall I did enjoy this book but nowhere near as much as the previous ones in the series and I hope her next in the set - Skin Privilege - is a step back to her old style. However if you have read the other books I certainly wouldn't skip this one, it is still worth the read, just not as enthralling as her others.
Faithless is number five in a series of crime fiction novels by author Karin Slaughter. Being a fan of the genre, I was delighted when I first discovered her work and have read each book in the series, most recently Faithless. The series centres on Medical Examiner, Sara Linton, and her husband, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver.
Sara and Jeffrey stumble upon the dead body of a young woman who appears to have been literally scared to death; her autopsy reveals a terrible and sinister means of death.
They trace the girl to an isolated farming community outside Tollivers jurisdiction a community where, it seems, religion is used to breed fear and obedience. Jeffrey enlists the help of Detective Lena Adams to solve the murder but with the case threatened by Lenas increasingly erratic behaviour will Jeffrey be able to find out the identity of the killer before he or she can strike again?
Readers who have enjoyed Kisscut and Blindsided will be happy to learn that this is more of the same; Slaughter certainly lives up to her name and is a skilled creator of gruesome murder scenes, making the perfect blend of medical detail and bloody description. She is also expert at devising a scenario that gives her investigators and the reader, of course, plenty of motives and potential perpetrators without the story becoming too complicated and overburdened with too many characters.
In Linton and Tolliver she has created two engaging and believable characters but they are now becoming tired and in trying to make each book a stand alone, yet still part of a continuing story, about another fifty or so pages are included in order to retrace old ground. It certainly does mean that each book and this one is no exception can be enjoyed independently of the others, but it is also frustrating to the long time reader who does not need a recap on Sara and Jeffreys romantic situation or on why Lena lives with her dead sisters girlfriend. The only consolation is that in this novel the other characters - those just in this story - are actually well-drawn and believable, if a little stereotyped and cliched.
While Faithless will certainly keep readers guessing, it is fairly implausible; I mean the Police Chief and the town Medical Examiner coming across a dead body in the woods! A little too easy if you ask me. This is not the only example of trite and unbelievable writing in this book anonymous letters, mysteriously appearing documents, an intuitively discovered matchbox .
Nonetheless, this is a very readable and not un-enjoyable novel. At 544 pages it is at least a hundred pages longer than it needs to be and would benefit from a little pruning. However, Miss Slaughter shows she can still turn out an excellent and thrilling crime novel even if her characters are becoming more than a little jaded.
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Fresh on the heels of her last bestseller comes Faithless,another in her series set in Grant County once again featuring local paedatrican/coroner Sara Linton and her ex husband police chief,Jeffrey Tolliver.
When Sara and Jeffrey are walking in the woods behind her parent's home,arguing as per usual,they literally stumble across the body of a young girl apparently buried alive in a home-made coffin.The girl,now dead,appears to have suffered great distress before she died judging from the scratches on the inside of the coffin but whoever buried her had obviously not intended her to die as they have provided her with bottled water and containers for her to urinate or defecate in as needed.Whas more,the girl was pregnant-which has personal ramifications for Sara considering her past...
Trying to track down the identity of the dead girl leads Jeffrey to an isolated farm manned by what appears to be a highly religious family cult-the same family that Sara's sister has recently been attending church with.From there,things become curioser and curioser and leads to many secrets and lies that previously have reamined buried finally coming to the surface.
Wheras the last novel,Indelible,focused heavily on the relationship betweeen Sara and Jeffrey with its multiple flashbacks to their past interspersed between the story of a small-town seige;this novel in turn spends much of the time focused on troubled police detective,Lena Adams-looking at her character in more depth than previous novels and examining the nature of her relationship with her abusive boyfriend,Ethan.
My version of this book is also a speical paperback first edition and contains an introduction to Grant county at the back in which Karin explains how she devised certain characters and how their roles have adapted as the series progesses.This is an enlightening insight and a nice little bonus where she reveals her novels are all about "the idea of transcendance" and asks How does a person recover from horrific crime?"
This i believe is one of the stronger aspects of this series-the way you follow the characters through their own emotional and personal journeys as they attempt to come to terms with the devastating events portrayed in the novels.I also like the shock value Karin uses in describing her crime scenes in such detail;even in this book,which from its inital opening seems tame compared to the likes of say Blindsighted,there is one paticular crime scene later on that is none too pleasant when they find the body of a male beaten to death with knuckle dusters.
I cannot reccomend this series enough and Faithless in paticular is another strong entry in the series.Not for anyone who is squeamish or faint-hearted but then if you're like that you should probably be avoiding this genre in any case.....
Unfortunately,Karin Slaughter is taking a break from Grant County with her next novel,but she will be returning to it in 2007 with a new thriller-Skin privilege.Heres hoping that her new novel is as good as these and role on 2007 I say..the anticipation is already killing me...
FAITHLESS is Karin Slaughters fifth book, which once again is set in the sleepy town of Heartsdale in Grant County, Georgia. (Sleepy? Hah, Id hate to see what the inhabitants get up to when fully alert!) The story, apart from the suspects, centres around three main characters: local Paediatrician and Medical Examiner on-the-side, Sara Linton and her ex-husband, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver and Lena Adams the only female Detective on the force. It took me just over a day to read (would have been less, but a girl has to sleep).
Why? Well its obvious, isnt it? I couldnt put it down.
*** A Smidgeon of the Plot***
Sara and Jeffrey are taking a walk in the woods (okay a little contrived but the story has to start somewhere) when they literally stumble across the body of a young girl who been buried in a bizarre manner. To be buried in the woods is bad enough, but it appears theres one sick psycho at large. As Medical Examiner for the County, Sara performs the autopsy, and concludes that the girl has literally been scared to death. Shes been killed in a shocking manner, so cruel it beggars belief at the mindset of the perpetrator .
*** My views on the book and writing style ***
Quite apart from the horrible murder, the meticulous detail Slaughter brings to her writing whether it be in the autopsy room or with regards to the complex relationships between the main characters, the pacing is
sure-footed. To say there is gripping tension on every page might be overstepping the mark, but the sub-plots involving the personal angst of the main characters are just as riveting as the trail we follow to find the killer.
I particularly enjoyed Faithless because I had read Slaughters debut novel, Blindsighted and then continued on with the others: Kisscut, A Faint Cold Fear and Indelible. In Blindsighted, the main three characters are introduced and feature in each subsequent book. As you read each book, a little more is revealed about them, perhaps more emphasis on a particular partnership or character until they are now nicely rounded and familiar. Perhaps it not absolutely necessary for the casual reader to have read the previous books, but it adds to the pleasure to know the characters and to understand what motivates them.
Sara Linton, and Jeffrey Tolliver are the main busy characters in the book, both likeable but strong characters who are learning to overcome
some heart wrenching sadness. Then theres Lena Adams, the only female detective on the force. Prone to outbreaks of prickliness and so stubbornly bolshie that I tended not to like her. But what that poor woman goes through between Blindsighted and Faithless, youd have a heart of stone not to warm towards her.
*** Strong and meaningful sub-plots ***
In this story, particularly, KS brings into play a sub-plot of a battered wife. She has obviously done a great deal of research and for those unfortunate enough to have experienced this despicable abuse against women I am sure they will find comfort, if not the answers, in the way the subject is handled. Those of us who cannot understand why a woman chooses to stay with an abusive partner will find here the reasons why its not so easy to flee. Slaughter teaches us never to judge.
Thinking about it, all Slaughters books so far have dealt with the victimization of women and their ghastly ends. When asked why this appears to be so, KS herself is quoted as saying: the truth is that the sorts of crimes you find in thrillers are generally crimes against women. What I try to do is use violence as a way to open up a dialogue about this sort of violence and why its happening. Perhaps if you understand it, we can help prevent it.
I have a hard time understanding why someone would want to beat the living daylights out of someone they purport to love but if understanding it is the way forward ..?
I have noticed a familiar thread running through KSs stories and that is of religion and the selective interpretation of the Bible which some people use for their own agendas. In Faithless (a good title given the books content), some of the action takes place in a religious community. Of course, with murder on our minds, we could be forgiven for being reminded of breakaway movements from main stream religions, brainwashing tendencies and general bad press . Again, never judge, never presume but never take your eye off the ball!
*** The Verdict ***
I experienced a lot of It was him! No! it was her! Was it the creepy one?. With clues twisting this way and that, teasing and testing the reader to reach a conclusion as to who-dunnit. When the dastardly murderer is finally revealed, Slaughter plays the tension for all its worth. Its heart-stopping stuff, with many a cry of No! from me enough to have my husband rattle his newspaper wondering why he never gets me that excited.
If you enjoy razor-sharp plotting and forensic detail with really engaging characters, I promise that you will enjoy this book.
ISBN: 1844133745 (Available from Amazon Hardback only at time of this review July 2005)