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Genesis - Karin Slaughter
Member Name: QueenElf
Genesis - Karin Slaughter
Advantages: Great plot, interesting characters.
Disadvantages: None unless you are squeamish.
Karin Slaughter is the best-selling author of over 11 best-selling books. Born in a small Georgia town she started writing at a young age and is one of the top US and UK writers of thrillers. The critics normally express her genre as 'of the school of writers specializing in forensic medicine and terror,' but at her best I'd say she couldn't be classified in this way since she is constantly changing and adapting her writing and her main characters.
In her first series of books set in Georgia she brought to life the characters of Sara Linton, a pediatrician and the county's coroner, her detective husband, Jeffrey Tolliver and the rookie cop, Lena Adams. After six bestsellers she turned to a new set of characters introducing Will Trent and his partner Faith Mitchell and a new start for Sara Linton in Atlanta. Genesis brings the three of these characters together for the first time in an explosive novel that shows her versatility as a crime writer.
An elderly couple are driving home along a country road when a white shape that looks like an animal is caught in the car's headlights, but after the impact the shaken couple realize the victim is a woman, naked and bloodied, obviously not just hit by the car but damaged in some terrible way. Barely living, the woman is taken to Grady hospital where she is seen by Sara Linton, whose move to Atlanta three years before was to escape the tragedy of losing her husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver.
Sara had just finished examining and treating a woman patient, Faith Mitchell a thirty-three-year old woman who passed out prior to admission and brought in by her partner, special agent William Trent of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. When Sara hurries to help the victim, Trent sees that she has been raped and tortured and after managing to find out little about her, except for the possibility of her name, Anna, he dashes off to the scene of the accident and antagonizes the local police who are not pleased to have him investigating their case.
When Will discovers the cave where the woman was held and tortured he also finds evidence of another victim who has escaped but probably in the same condition as the first victim, blinded and bleeding it's a race against time to see if she can be rescued.
Ultimately, though, yet another victim is taken and both Will and Faith struggle to gain control of the investigation before another woman dies. But the local police won't help more than they can and soon Sara has to get involved as well, leading her back to painful memories of when she assisted in police matters.
This is a very fast-paced book that starts with some shocking and brutal visions and carries on for some time with the plot leading the narrative. But Karin Slaughter still manages to let us get under the skin of her main characters in such a way that they blend seamlessly into the chase for suspects. Readers of her other books will be familiar with the character of Sara Linton, but it's still possible to read this as a standalone book. I'd already read most of her first series but somehow I missed the one where Sara loses her husband and so I was also meeting with Will Trent and Faith Mitchell for the first time. I already knew I was in for a roller-coast ride as Slaughter is both an intelligent writer whose plots are hard to unravel, but also a very good judge of character and uses this to give the reader real human beings to go along with.
In a very real sense this is what the reader feels like as the narrative is fast and focused for the best part of the book. It does slow slightly towards the middle when the investigation stalls itself and the characters take over with their own foibles, which we need to get to know to appreciate them better. But the author never keeps us out of the picture for long and soon the action speeds up with questions flying around leading to a superbly crafted and suitably gory and suspenseful finish.
In Sara Linton Slaughter ties the first series to the second but it's not necessary to have read previous books, although you would enjoy the story all the more. Using Linton as the link is clever but since the main characters are still Will and Faith it's never exploited as it could have become since the character of Linton is both a strong one and an exceptionally well portrayed woman as well as a medical practioner. Since she's not tied to the investigation we see the softer side of the character, which is poignant given the demise of her husband.
Will Trent is a big man, over six feet, blonde and scarred both physically and mentally but is still very gentle and approachable. It makes a change to see this type of cop when the hard-bitten ones are usually more readable, if not likable. He has some secrets that come out in the book and adds a lot to the story, linking the unknown torturer with a man who despises torture of any kind.
It could be said that Faith is another flawed female character in the vein of Lena Adams (from the first series). But Faith is a tough woman who just happens to have life giving her a raw deal just when she's recovering from older scars.
The pairing of these two and their own absent life partners allows for some interesting interplay especially when it seems that Will is attracted to Sara. I expect to see some great plot development in Slaughter's next book.
Of course it wouldn't be a good book without a real villain and this one is particularly nasty. Expect a lot of terror to freeze the blood because this is about one person's very ugly personality displaying the worst in terms of torture I've read about for a long time. Unlike such masterpieces of horror as Hannibal Lector fame, this is a fallible human, someone we can sensibly hate for the violence he inflicts on his (or maybe her?) victims.
There are some lovely minor characters and some that will become more developed with further books (as I'm sure there is). It would be a plot spoiler to mention too many so I'll just say that Karin Slaughter uses her minor characters to great effect when plumbing the depths of her main characters.
One thing I couldn't work out was the title and the plot development around a slight amount of biblical reference that spluttered out into nothing much at the end. It has some relevance but I think it's either a undeveloped plotline or a red herring. That's my only disappointment and certainly not enough to knock off a star. I mention it as some reader might wonder about it.
This book should carry a health warning, 'liable to keep you awake,' or 'devilishly cunning.' (My own words). Others have written 'criminally spectacular' 'Brilliantly chilling' 'A superior, deeply satisfying thriller.' I like this one, 'the writing is lean and mean and the climax will blow you away.' I'd add that apart from the violence that is disturbing, the plot is hard to beat and I loved trying to guess 'whodunit.' I loved the characters and the fact that they aren't allowed to go stale or become too familiar, as some writers can make them.
In the end I want a book to entertain and keep me in suspense. I enjoy knowing the characters but I don't particularly want to know all about their sex-life or what they have for dinner. This entertained me and kept me turning the pages as well as airing my brain. That can't be a bad thing, now?
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İLisa Fuller. 2011.
Summary: Keep the lights on!