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My first Slaughter - gruesome medical crime thriller can be fun too!
Genesis - Karin Slaughter
Member Name: pmcds
Genesis - Karin Slaughter
Advantages: Well written; deep characters; flowing plot and pace
Disadvantages: Better with reading the series; graphic descriptions may put some off
'Forensic terror thriller' is probably the best way to describe this novel. It's the first time I've read one of Karin Slaughter's books, and she certainly makes the best efforts for her surname to have some sort of relevance in the book. Apparently, this book is a bridge between the first series of books she wrote featuring one set of characters, and then those she introduces here.
The common thread is former coroner and medical examiner Sara Linton, and it's at this point I should announce potential spoilers for those of you reading the books in order and not having reached this point yet. Linton is clearly a damaged character, and in this she fits in very well with the detective pair focused on in the novel. The pairing of Will Trent and Faith Mitchell is well executed, the two detectives comfortable for Slaughter in their own narrative elements, and the author does a good job of flitting between them inter-chapter and intra-chapter. Cleverly done.
The characters develop through a series of gruesome discoveries. The book starts off with a horrendously damaged woman who is accidentally run over by an elderly couple on a remote road. When Trent's searches reveal a torture cave dug into the nearby ground along with another victim, it's not long before they realise there is a sick and twisted sadistic killer out there; and when similar profiled women go missing, the serial killer looks like he has his next intended victims.
The race is on for Trent and Mitchell, and the story progresses rapidly along with the plot's development. Slaughter intersperses personal aspects for the characters, and is remarkable astute at doing so. Trent's dyslexia is acutely covered throughout, from displaying how it manifests to exploring the detective's agony and embarrassment associated with it. Then there's Mitchell's simultaneous pregnancy and type 2 diabetes, which is explored in equal merits of self-consciousness as Trent's dyslexia. Both of them are damaged characters, and Trent's orphan status and ex-wife who pushes the right (or wrong) buttons all links in very well. A few threads here aren't explored very much, and you can't help feeling that this is because the book runs in a series and these other characters and plot developments will come to the fore a bit more in other books. However, it does lessen their impact in this as a stand alone novel which many will want to read it as.
The book has to be whole in its own sum, rather than relying on previous or subsequent works. It does hold its own due to the sheer medical descriptors and clear finality to the case involved. Slaughter is occasionally very graphic in her descriptions of what has been done to the women in this case, and the violence and torturous elements can only be described as medical horror as we're seeing them out and about, or forensic horror as we see the clinical evaluation of them. This is partly where Sara Linton comes into the fray. Definitely a back seat character in the book, Slaughter is however quick to establish a brand new start and enables Linton to forge bonds with our two detectives through the revelation of the tragedies she has suffered that have brought her to her current abode and professional situation. Working in the ER but tending mainly to cuts and bruises, it's a far cry from the world of an ME or coroner, and the emotional element and attraction between her and Trent only sharpens the sadness of her newly single status.
Relationships play a huge part in the book. Damaged bonds between Faith and her love life, Trent's bullying ex-wife and Linton's murdered husband all display a negative aspect of love, and turns to the part of us that is selfish and lonesome. The victims all have certain characteristics which support this further, career women who are dominant partners where this is relevant, damaged pasts and with money along with the power. There is strength displayed for all of the women in the book, with one or two subtle exceptions. Mostly, this is a display of the power that women hold over men. Perhaps the eventual perpetrator's thought process had something to do with this? Naturally, if I type further about this then something will be given away, and I don't want that, so make of it what you will.
The title was the only thing that sort of flumoxed me, until I'd thought about it some more. You'd think there would be a religious connotation for it to be the title (as opposed to Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel's music!) and although this does come into play a bit towards the end, the religious element really isn't explored in any depth whatsoever. I thought about this and considered whether it was chosen equally because of the new start for the character - Linton's new start in terms of the book series, Faith's pregnancy, and also a negative element to Trent that comes into play halfway through the book. It's about origins, and with the religious element perhaps Genesis is just subtle enough to be clever and not obtuse.
I really enjoyed reading this. It's my first experience of reading Slaughter's books, and although a crime thriller is always going to have a multitude of similarities with others in the genre, this had something clearly distinct about it. I'll definitely read more of her work at some point. I have a plethora of books waiting for me on a shelf, so they'll have to wait - it's not like this is so brilliant as to make me want to search for more from her - but I'll certainly catch some more Slaughter at some point. Recommended.
Summary: Absorbing and gruesome crime thriller from Karin Slaughter