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Skin Privilege - Karin Slaughter

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Author: Karin Slaughter / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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    7 Reviews
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      08.06.2010 11:45
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      There are many better books by Karin Slaughter

      You can usually count on Karin Slaughter for an outrageously gory stomach churningly graphic go to sleep with the light on read. This time round shes moved away from that and written about white supremacists in small town southern America. Every possible stereotypical image possible has been used from references to the Klu Klux Klan to Hitler and then some.

      The book starts at the end of the story which in itself is rather odd. After that the events leading up to this particular day are explained in tediously yawn worthy detail. The book features three of Karin Slaughters most dependable characters. Dr Sara Tolliver, paediatrician and part time coroner, her husband police chief Jeffrey and his deputy Lena Adams. Lena isn't your average police officer. She's been kidnapped, raped, knifed, orphaned, molested as a child, has a murdered lesbian twin sister and a drug addict as a guardian. No surprises then for guessing that a visit back to her home town isn't going to be a pleasant experience especially when that visit is a summons from a concerned friend to say that her uncle and guardian needs help.

      The small town in question turns out to be your average destitute shanty town where the locals have nothing better to do than sit around drinking all day, occasionally taking time out to beat their wives or shoot up with meth. That's not the America portrayed in the Disney World brochures. The old police chief quit after he was turned into a human torch, the new one is barely out of high school and the dentist is a coroner working out of a car repair garage. Confused? I was and the more I read the more confused I got.

      The novel doesn't flow. It jumps about in spurts and just as you think the words are starting to flow off the page the chapter abruptly stops and you lurch forwards or backwards in time to another series of events. It had all the elements of a great story but they never quite seemed to come together.

      The authors fascination with the detailed cleaning of toilets and hotel bathrooms is by far the oddest of a lot of very odd details included within the book.

      Karin Slaughter is usually a reliably good read but unfortunately not on this occasion.

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        06.01.2010 15:25
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        If you've read the others read it, if not give it a miss

        Ive read all of the Grant County series of Books by Karin Slaughter and must admit that I was a big fan of the series. This book however was my least favourite of them all. Although it would benifit for character development for you to read the previous books, Slaughter does allow for it to be easily read as a standalone book.

        The book returns to Grant County with Jeffrey and Sara being dragged into a situation to help Lena, who has been arrested. I felt the book was lacking in a real good quality story line. The Nazi story line had already been raised in an earlier book in the series and throughout the book (excluding the ending) it was just a little dull in comparison to he previous books. The books starts off very slowly but picks up towards the middle to end sections. As always, Slaughter creates great suspense and presents the characters brilliantly...and she knows how to make you want to read more at the end of the chapter.

        My main issue with this book was that it all felt so rushed. The ending I felt was a very poor way to end the Grant series and to me felt like a quick and easy way out with little consideration to the readers who had invested time and emotions in to these characters.

        I would recommend the series of these books highly, especially the first 2 books, and so as a result feel I should recommend this book also. but be warned - don't expect too much from the ending as you will probably be more frustrated than satisfied by the time you've ended the book.

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          08.09.2009 13:16
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          Highly recommended

          I've read a few of Karin Slaughter's Sara Linton series books but admit I have missed a couple. Skin Privilege is the last one she has currently written in the series. Karin Slaughter lives in Atlanta and is a best selling author.

          Sara Linton is a doctor and part time coroner in Heartsdale, Jeffrey Tolliver is the police chief and Lena Adams one of his detectives. Lena has a troubled past and gets a call to say her uncle needs her in her hometown of Reece. She responds to the call by reluctantly heading back to the town she hates and an uncle she has a rocky relationship with and manages to become the only suspect in an horrific murder where a woman is burnt alive in a car.

          When Jeffrey receives word about this he and his wife Sara go to Lena's aid only to find a confusing set of circumstances and another victim rapidly following the first one. Can they figure out who did it and redeem Lena? Will Lena tell them what she knows?

          The main characters from this book are in all the other Sara Linton books so it's best to read some of the others for background but the author does explain most of the facts about their relationship to each other so it's not vital. Sara and Jeffrey have remarried after getting divorced a few books back but Lena and Sara really don't get along. Lena is a hothead who frequently gets herself into bother but on this occasion the situation in Reece just runs away without her input.

          This book shows that small towns can have all the bad elements of large cities such as drugs, conspiracy, murder and bigotry. Skinheads, meth dealing and violence abound in Reece and it seems no-one can or will stop it.

          Some of the scenes are particularly gruesome, the burning of the victim in the car is just awful and the following autopsy which is described in detail. Karin Slaughter pulls no punches though and if it would be horrific in real life she writes it to make you really feel that.

          The book starts in present day then we go back a couple of days to learn about how it all came about from the viewpoint of Lena and Sara and Jeffrey. This works really well because we go in at a point where it's all action and then find out how this came to pass.

          The characters are all believable in this series and all their quirks and problems suit them well. Karin Slaughter brings the characters to life and within a few pages you start to feel as though you know them personally. She also doesn't forget to give all the characters faults and flaws which is a refreshing change from some authors as they often miss this out with certain characters. The relationship between Jeffrey and Sara is well written too with Jeffrey's occasional macho behaviour irritating Sara beyond belief, very true to life!

          Naturally along the way some old family secrets come tumbling out of the closet, one of which surprised me immensely as I didn't see it coming at all. The action, secrets, twists and turns keep you glued to the story and the pace of the book is very fast. The characters were so well written I didn't once have to flick back to check who someone was which is unusual for me with so many characters.

          The real shocker though is the ending. I didn't see this coming at all and could hardly believe the author finished the book how she did! My friend who lent me the book rang me the day I finished it and said she could finally express her shock over the ending now I'd read it! It really is totally unexpected and Karin Slaughter has even written a letter to her readers about it which can be found at www.karinslaughter.com/letter but be warned if you read this letter it contains plot spoilers so read the book first then go read the letter to find out why she did what she did! I can say no more than that!

          I thoroughly enjoyed this book, it kept me guessing all the way through and I couldn't put it down because it moved along so quickly. Add to that the truly shocking ending and it was a brilliant read. The book is available to buy new from Amazon for £5.49 or used from Amazon Marketplace for 1p.

          Highly recommended.

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            24.10.2008 21:46
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            worth picking up

            I only discover Karin Slaughter at the begining of the year, and in 8 months i have read all six of the Sara Linton series and i am totally hooked.

            To be honest i think i was hooked by page 10 of the first book. It is a good idea to read these books in order so to understand the relationships between the 3 main characters and how they develope within the books but i have to say you could pick up any of her books and enjoy them as a one off.

            For those that have not read the previous books. The main character is Sarah linton she is pediatrician and also medical examiner part time, Then there is Jeffery Toliver the police cheif in the same town who i the early books is Sara's ex huband and in later books her husband as they re-marry. Then there is Lena Adams a detective working with Jeffery oliver and the first female detective on the force employed when Jeffrey took over as cheif. Lena had a twin syster sybil who features in the books, Sybil was blinded as a child and is also a lesbian and the man that raised lena and sybil features a lot in this book and he is hank.

            Skin privilage is one of the best (if not the best book) in the entire series it seems that the more the characters develope for Karain the better she can write with them. It gripped me from the beggining and to be honest it felt that there were two endings you just get over the first and second comes out of no-where and rips your heart out! I can honestly say this is the first bok that has been sucsefful in making me cry! The book switch around a little time frame wise but not enough to confuse.

            Some people will say that the book is graffic in its detail of the dead and injured but i felt it only went as far as was nessesary to be honest and gripping. I have perposfully not given anything of the story as if you are reading this as a review in view to read it then you wont want it spoilt!

            If you enjoy crime writting and / or furensic pathology then i would definatly recommend this book i think Karin slaughter is getting better with every book and has over taken popular writter such as patricia cornwell.

            10 out of 10 for me!

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              03.08.2008 13:46
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              A brave ending and a great novel overall.

              Skin Privilege by Karin Slaughter.

              ~ About the Author ~

              Karin Slaughter is fast becoming one of the best writers in her genre. She lives in the United States, and is a native of Georgia, so it's no surprise that many of her works are based in this area.

              Her writing is also something that doesn't shy away from violence in all its forms, and she herself has said its because she wants to write about social aspects that are important to her, as well as trying to keep it real.

              Skin Privilege is the 6th novel in a series featuring three main characters - Lena Adams, Jeffrey Tolliver and Sara Linton. In the US, this book has a different title of Beyond Reach. However, the text of the books is identical.

              The 7th book in this series (Genesis) is due out in 2009.
              The previous books in this series are:

              Blindsighted
              Kisscut
              A Faint Cold Fear
              Indelible
              Faithless

              ~ Synopsis ~

              This book begins with a fire - and to start with we don't know who has been caught up in the flames.

              Then Jeffrey Tolliver gets a phone call - To tell him one of his detectives, Lena Adams, has been arrested in her hometown of Reece.
              He decides to go down there, taking with him his wife Sara Linton. Sara is a qualified doctor, as well as medical examiner for the town Heartsdale, but she is currently in the middle of her own crisis, as the parents of a former 10-year-old boy patient she had been treating are suing her for malpractice.

              Once Jeffrey and Sara arrive in Reece, they find Lena in the hospital, and under suspicion of being involved in the torching of a car that they then found the remains of someone else inside. While Jeffrey and Sara are there, Lena then manages to make her escape from custody in the hospital.

              Jeffrey, Sara and Lena all then begin their own exploration into what is happening in this small town. Lena is desperate to work out why her Uncle Hank has suddenly begun using Meth again after staying clean for years - and what that has to do with not only the death of someone in a car fire, but also the death of her mother.
              Lena is being made to revisit old wounds, and her fight to try and find out the truth seems to only be generating more questions with few answers.

              Jeffrey and Sara, as they begin to not only find Lena, but also what has been happening, soon begin to realize that the town holds horrifying underground connections to gangs, with Swastika tattoos signifying different gangs and territory.
              These gangs have infiltrated the area well, having spent years building up a meth network and because of this, the town begins to close ranks with no answers forthcoming.

              Danger begins to lurk in every corner, and before long, Jeffrey, Sara and Lena all find their lives are in jeopardy.

              ~ Thoughts on the book ~

              The first thing that struck me as I read this book is unlike other Karin Slaughter books, this one seems to focus more on the emotions of a character. It takes us away from the acts of crimes and pushes more towards solving of them, with the criminals more in the background than usual.

              It meant the pace of this book took a little longer to get going than previous books I have read in this series, but once it did - it was well worth the wait! You then get thrust into what Karin does seem to do so well, and that is give you a page turner of the highest crime/thriller quality.

              We see far more of Lena in this book, and while I know some fans have complained about this, I for one found it interesting and it meant I was able to get a much better understanding of her. Jeffrey and Sara's relationship is also finely scrutinized in this book, again far more than is usual in the series.
              To begin with, I did wonder what had caused this change of pace in Karin's writings, but once the ending was revealed in the last few pages of the book - it began to make much more sense and I suspect it will help set up the book following this one, Genesis.

              This book (like the others) can be read as a stand-alone novel, but I would say its preferable to have read the others simply because it will help just give more insight into the characters - but as I've said, not essential.

              As with all good writer, sub-plots and secondary characters are done well, sometimes throwing you off the scent, other times making you realize how something pieces together, but never quite wrapping it up until Karin is ready to do that.

              The book is split into more than just "chapters" with each character, or main group of characters, having different segments devoted entirely to events as they happen from their perspective. I personally enjoy this style of writing when done well (as Karin does) because it allows you to see things from a different standpoint than you might otherwise get if written into the story just into chapters.

              The overall effect of the book though is still the mainstay of what Karin Slaughter does. We have a mix of underground gangs and crime, characters whose motives you can't be entirely sure about - who is the bad guy and who isn't? Violence is shown without sensationalism, both physical and sexual. This shows in the writing, which is moody, dark but with a distinct edge to it. We get shown the less amorous side of small town America and it done with aplomb.

              Not least, we get an ending as unexpected as I could have imagined, and its one that is both controversial and brave.

              ~ Final Thoughts ~

              I do know the ending of this book has caused huge controversy with regular readers of these novels. However, I actually applaud Karin Slaughter for taking what is essentially a very brave step, and one not often taken by writers. It makes up for her slight departure in her style of writing that occurs in this book, and as I've said, it actually helps make more sense of it.

              It's a truly gripping read from Karin Slaughter and all that you would expect from a good crime novel. You get presented with more than one possibility of events, as you read, all as plausible as the other. Your usual instincts or theories as to what is happening aren't much use to you as you read the book. You get a great shift of view and time frame as you read from each character is also exceptionally well done and it all helps nicely bring the book together.

              Some might say Karin Slaughter writes in a style that is too dark, with little or no humour to break it up like some writers do. However, I actually think this is strength of her writing because she manages it without you either feeling as if you've lost the plot, or that it is so dark it becomes depressing and so impossible to read. It just brings it into sharp focus when needed, without becoming sensationalised.

              Despite this book being "softer" than her previous novels, it's still very much a Karin Slaughter book, which means its much darker than some of the writing you might get from Reichs, Cornwall and other female crime writers. Because she is different, its one reason I enjoy reading her books so much because I get a completely different edge with her books.
              This is another excellent effort by her, and one I would thoroughly recommend if you like crime/thriller style books.

              5 out of 5 stars from me.

              Availability is widespread and I picked up my copy from Asda as a paperback for £3-49.

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                11.07.2008 22:37
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                Highly Recommended

                Karin Slaughter has written four previous books in a series which all feature the same characters and are based around the same area - Grant County. This is the fifth and last book written in this series and in my opinion is the best of them all.

                Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver gets a call to tell him his Detective, Lena Adams, has been arrested. Feeling he has to find out what has happened he goes along to Reece - one hundred miles away - with his wife Sarah Linton, to try and help Lena out of this latest situation.

                Things are more troubled then he had feared however, when they realise a woman has been burned to death in the back of a car, and this is the scene Lena had been found at. She is saying nothing though and vehemently tells Jeffrey and Sara to leave town and forget she ever existed.

                Jeffrey and Sarah vow to stay and help Lena through her ordeal but as she escapes custody they find out the situation is much more deadly than ever imagined, and corruption, racism and bigotry are order of the day in this small town.

                Once again, I would be happy to recommend this book to a new reader of Karin Slaughter, even though it is number 5 in the line. It is easily readable as a standalone book due to Slaughter's excellent way with filling the reader in with any background that is needed. However having said that I think it would double the pleasure of reading this particular story if you have knowledge of the characters from the previous books. It would be all too easy to be unsympathetic to Lena's plight if you read this book first, but with background knowledge of her, as well as Jeffrey and Sara, you get a much more complete picture and I found it immensely enjoyable.

                The story lines are very believable, even in their ferocity. I can well imagine small towns in America to be filled with racist people, making sure everyone in town knew who was really in charge. Slaughter doesn't try and hide behind anything fancy and she tends to write it as she sees it, meaning the description and subject matter can be pretty heavy at times, but I never felt over powered by the book. The things that happen are pretty nasty and for me that was part of the enjoyment of the book. If you like good crime fiction that gets deep into a specific subject matter then this book will be completely what you are looking for.

                Old names pop up through it, like Ethan Green, Lena's old boyfriend who systematically beat her until she managed to get him arrested for carrying a concealed weapon. His part is played from jail in this part of the story, but he is just as scary and out of all the characters I think he scares me the most. In fact Slaughter actually put it into words for me, when she had Lena thinking about Ethan. She thought he was scarier and more threatening than anyone she had ever met, because he was intelligent and could pass himself off as a completely normal, kind member of society. People met him and liked him, he charmed them, but then he could turn in the blink of an eye and Lena knew what that turn could feel like. I think Karin Slaughter has written about him expertly and I hope he features in more books if she carries on with the Grant County series.

                This is a longer book than the others but it never lost its pace and kept me engaged the whole time. I really cannot explain my fondness for the characters now. I know they are fictional but I really feel like I know them and this is a credit to the writers skill, at keeping me interested in them through five books. There are certainly some shockers in this book too and ones I would never have seen coming, knowing them as I thought I did, however I loved every word that I read and my only regret is there is not another in this series to turn to now.

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                  31.08.2007 16:06
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                  Racist Nazi skinheads, drug dealing and small town bigotry all add up to trouble

                  After the abysmal last book which took us away from Grant County- Triptych? More like craptych- Karin Slaughter sees sense and returns back to the series she does best thankfully not falling into the Patricia Cornwell trap and managing to breathe new life into characters we love instead of making us forget why we liked them to start with. (Kay Scarpetta = Kay Who?)

                  Starting with a medical malpractice suit being brought against paediatrician Sara Linton (now Tolliver scince she re-married her husband) over her diagnosis of a young child's lukemia, the opening chapters kind of serve the purpose of recapping past events for those who are new to the series or for those who may have forgotten what happened back in the first book. Recalling much of what happened in Blindsighted (so if you are new and intending to read the rest of the series you may not want to start here) the preliminary question and answer session ends unconclusively leaving Sara doubting her medical ability and feeling like an outcast by the way the other locals are treating her.

                  Hoping to spend some time with her husband then, Sara is a little dismayed when Jeffrey informs her that his long-time friend and colleague, the estranged detective Lena Adams with whom Sara has not always got along, is once again in trouble. This time she is over in the neighbouring town of Reece where she has been arrested on suspicion of torching someone in their car. Following her past history over the last few novels, Jeffrey doesn't feel he can just abandon her and so takes Sara along with him for the ride as they go off in an atempt to piece together the whole story and work out how, if at all, Lena's ex-boyfriend Ethan Greene is involved.

                  Things become more complicated when Lena escapes from custody; they discover that Lena's uncle, Hank, is using drugs again; that somewhere around Reece there is a big business in Meth being dealt and that an Aryan brotherhood of nazi skinheads are more than just a little bit involved in all thats been going on in and around the town. Add to this the fact that Jeffrey and the local Police Chief struggle to see eye-to-eye and you get a potential explosive powder keg just waiting to go off.

                  Focusing for the most part on the women of the novel, we get a good,hard look at Lena's past and much of what we know of her and her family is turned on its head both for the reader and for Lena herself; Sara's love and dedication for her husband Jeffrey after all they have been through is also put under the microscope and allthough this is a wee bit tiresome at times it is never enough to truly spoil the novel and is fully justified by the time you get to the end.

                  Once again Slaughter proves she can spin a complex tale and still manage to successfully pull it all together in the final scenes. If you assume that craptych was no more than a temporary blip, then this is her back writing at her very best. One of the best books she has written since her debut thriller, Blindsighted, it is a real treat to see this very talented crime novellist back where she rightfully deserves to be..... on top-notch form!!

                  With one of the most dramatic endings she has ever written, it is hard to see where the series will go from here but hopefully she will give the fans what they want and write more novels yet in Grant County as this is where the strength in her writing is strongest.

                  If you're looking for one of the best female crime writers currently on the market then look no further- Karin Slaughter pulls no punches with this latest installment in what has rightfully become a consistently best-selling series!!!

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                • Product Details

                  It's no simple case of murder. Lena Adams has spent her life struggling to escape her past. She has only unhappy memories of Reece, the small town which nearly destroyed her. She's made a new life for herself as a police detective in Heartsdale, a hundred miles away - but nothing could prepare her for the violence which explodes when she is forced to return. A vicious murder leaves a young woman incinerated beyond recognition. And Lena is the only suspect.