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Triptych - Karin Slaughter

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Author: Karin Slaughter / Genre: Crime / Thriller

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      27.07.2011 17:32
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      Stick with it and it's ultimately a rewarding read

      This was my first venture into the world of the appropriately named Karin Slaughter (since she writes murder thrillers). I'd often seen her books for sale in bookshops, stations and so on, but until Triptych came my way, had never actually read one.

      Triptych tells the story of cop Michael Ormewood who is investigating the brutal murder of a prostitute and a possible connection to another unsolved case. Unwanted help is foisted on him in the guise of fellow officer Will Trent, leading to tension as well as frustration as the case seems to stall. However, as they investigate, secrets start to become uncovered that someone wants to stay buried.

      Initial impressions of triptych were not favourable and it took me quite a long time to get into it. The opening segment seemed to take forever to get going and was a bit of a chore to work through. I kept thinking that the rather staid storyline had nothing new to offer the crowded market of the police murder investigation story. Indeed, I thought it stultifyingly predictable and had the whole thing already plotted out in my mind: two cops who initially hate each other but are forced to work together to catch the bad guy and slowly come to respect the unique talents of the other. At about 50 pages in, I was congratulating myself on being such a clever little monkey, because I had it all worked out.

      It turned out I was wrong. Very wrong.

      As the first part comes to an end, there is a stunning bombshell that I did not see coming at all. After 100 pages of fairly routine stuff, Slaughter absolutely pulls the rug from under your feet with a revelation that turns everything you have read so far completely on its head, and forces you to rethink. Moreover, this sudden twist is realistic and logical and if you think back over what you have already read there have been a couple of subtle indicators which seem obvious with hindsight, just not at the time.

      From this point on, I was hooked. Slaughter goes on to prove that this sleight of hand was not a fluke, as she proves to be the mistress of misdirection; twists and turns occur regularly, catching you off-guard. Importantly this is not done as a gimmick, but to add some vital element to the plot; another clue which will ultimately help solve the mystery when put together with others, but which on its own, is apparently meaningless.

      The way Slaughter structures her narrative is also a bit different. As with any book in this genre, there are multiple characters, each with different motives. The common approach to dealing with this in many crime thrillers is to constantly switch between the different characters, so the whole thing into a battle of wits between the police and the killer, with the reader sitting in the middle enthralled.

      Slaughter does something different. There are essentially four key characters, each with some connection to the murder or murderer and each other. Instead of flitting between them, Slaughter concentrates on one at a time, devoting an entire part to each their character, their past and their connection to the murder. At the end of each section comes a big revelation which makes everything clearer and ties some of the loose ends together, so that a fuller picture slowly starts to emerge.

      Moreover, the characters are incredibly realistic and human. Each has their good points and their bad points. Indeed, in another superb sleight of hand, Slaughter gradually changes the way you think about them. Initially, some appear deeply despicable, without any redeeming features at all. Yet the more Slaughter presents their daily lives and reveals their past, the more sympathetic they become. Similarly, characters who initially appear "perfect" and very likeable slowly have the layers stripped away to reveal some not-so-pleasant characteristics.

      This is done so carefully and so subtly that you will barely notice your attitude to the characters changing. Indeed, you sometimes feel like you've been put through the ringer emotionally as further plot and character revelations rock your preconceptions and challenge the ideas you have built up about who is "guilty". Everything that happens, though, happens within a realistic context so that you are never left thinking that Slaughter has introduced a twist purely for the sake of it. Some twists are slightly more obvious than others, but the way they all eventually come together to reveal the whole picture is very cleverly handled.

      All this means that Triptych is a fascinating rollercoaster of a read, where you never quite know what is going to happen next. Even though Slaughter writes in fairly long chapters with no breaks in the text (meaning the book is not so easy to just pick up and read a few pages at a time), this doesn't matter because you won't WANT to read just a few pages. As soon as you pick it up, you find yourself immersed in the realistic world Slaughter has created and want to stay there for as long as possible to find out what is going on.

      It's fitting that a book packed with plot twists and unexpected events caught me by surprise. When I first starting reading, it seemed destined for 2, possibly 3 stars. It just goes to show: you really shouldn't judge a book by its cover. Yes, the opening section is rather slow, but once you get over that hump, the explosive plot revelations and gripping plot have you hooked and won't let you go until you close the book for the last time.

      Basic Information
      -----------------------
      Triptych
      Karin Slaughter
      Random House, 2006
      ISBN: 978-0-09-948183-6

      © Copyright SWSt 2011

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        08.05.2011 10:06
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        A worthwhile read that kept me occupied from start to finish

        I've read and reviewed a few Slaughter novels before and have really liked her work so far. This book looked no different; the blurb sounded intriguing and fitted nicely within the crime thriller genre that I'm really into reading at the moment.

        The front of the book reads : 'Three people with something to hide. One killer with nothing to lose'. We're also told that this is "the number one bestseller", which always helps sell a book to me. This is set in America, focused predominantly on the Atlanta police department, so be prepared for some American stylee crime solving.

        The novel opens by giving us a view of detective Michael Ormewood, a husband to a nurse and a father to a mentally disabled young son. Ormewood is quickly called out to an area called Grady Homes where a prostitute, Aleesha Monroe, is found dead; she hasn't just been killed, but but mutilated with her tongue bitten off.

        To assist the investigation, Special Agent Will Trent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is called in. More brain power is needed as it soon becomes clear that this wasn't a one-off incident, and that in fact, there have been a couple of reports of 15 year old girls with the same injuries, possibly at the hands of a serial killer.

        It's at this point that we learn more about Will, getting a closer look at his life, his history and his relationship to Angie, a woman working Vice. Whilst the investigation is underway, a third man enters the picture; John Shelley, a man newly released from prison after 20 years since being sentenced for the brutal murder of a young girl, when he himself was in his early teens, who also had her tongue bitten off.

        It may seem straightforward from here. This paedophile killer, evil from such a young age, went directly back to hunting his prey. We're led down certain paths to certain ways of thinking; believing that Shelley is the man responsible, that Will Trent isn't the man he seems. But things aren't all they seem, and as the story unravels Slaughter is able to weave ties between the characters, giving us a feel for each of them as she does so.

        I found this book very easy to read because it's wonderfully written, despite its dark subject matter and it's cold, blunt brutality. The plot is intricate without being overly or unnecessarily complex, meaning you shouldn't get lost with names and facts but instead can enjoy the chase.

        I would definitely recommend this novel for crime thriller fans; it's a book you can find yourself absorbed into, enjoying from start to finish because of it's pace, twists and smooth style. It may not be everyone's cuppa tea (ie if you don't like crime novels!), but fans of Slaughter shouldn't be disappointed. There's also further praise on the back of the book :
        'Criminally spectacular' - OK.
        'This is without a doubt an accomplished, compelling and complex tale, with page-turning power aplenty' - Daily Express.

        510 pages over 40 chapters
        RRP £6.99

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          15.07.2008 17:05
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          To me the best story by US-American thriller-author Slaughter.

          Some members may recognize it at first sight - I'm a new member on this British version of Dooyoo. On the other hand I've been a permanent member on the Dooyoo page in Germany. Since I enjoby to share my experiences on books, internet pages, electronic devices and other stuff, and since I love the English language, I'll try to combine both. A lot of books I used to read are in English - that may make it easier to give my opinion on stories which you could enjoy or find interesting as well.
          It has been a while ago since I first came across the US-American author Karin Slaughter and her series of stories taking place in Grant County. I've had a good time reading them since I liked the main characters and the way they were developing. When I do like the style of an author I also love to read more stories by her or him. That was the way I came across one of her more recent books, Triptych.


          List of contents
          *********************
          1. The author: Karin Slaughter
          2. Place and time of the story
          3. What is the meaning of "Triptych"?
          4. The main characters
          ***a) Michael Ormewood
          ***b) Will Trent
          ***c) Angie Polaski
          ***d) John Shelley
          5. The story
          6. Themes
          ***a) The nightmares after war
          ***b) To get on the wrong side
          ***c) Scars of the past
          7. Comparison to other Slaughter-stories
          8. Perspectives
          9. Readability of the English version (seen from point of view of a German reader)
          10. Readers
          11. Facts: The book
          12. Pro's and con's
          13. Results


          1. The author: Karin Slaughter
          *********************************
          It is rather hard to find facts on Karin Slaughter - there's just a tiny little bit which is revealed within her books: She is from Gerorgia/USA. Her books taking place in Grant-County have become bestsellers, especially "Faithless" and "A Faint Cold Fear". In July 2008 her latest story has been published under the title fractured.
          You can learn more about Karin Slaughter if you visit her homepage www.karinslaughter.com which is only available in English. There is some kind of biography. You get to know, that Slaughter has been starting writing quite early. She is putting down her stories so to speak between her kitchen and her living room. And you are told, that the author is living in Atlanta/Georgia/USAS, the town which has been hosting the Olympic Summer Games in 1996.


          2. Place and time of the story
          ********************************
          I've just told you were Karin Slaughter is living. Her book "Triptych", the story, she is writing, ist taking playce in the very same town, in Atlanta. I've been to America three times and since I keep watching quite a few US-movies, it is rather easy to imagine a story taking place in that surroundings.
          If you look at the time of the story, it is a little bit more difficult. Slaughter is jumping between various years. There is a news paper article, which has been published in 1985, than there ist the year 2005 - which could be seen as present time, and then there ist he year 2006. Under normal circumstances I might find this change of time quite irritating. But in this case, Slaughter is managing to combine her main characters with the question of time. Though the time is changing you keep on being at the side ofone character, one perspective. I'll tell you more about it later on. First there is another question to be solved.


          3. What is "Triptych"?
          ************************
          I've never heard the word "triptych" before I came across this book. And this is not just a question of my English, it is a question, that this word isn't very common - neither in English nor in German (Triptychon ist the German word for triptych).
          It is a religious painting consisting of three parts which could be opned or shut. Depending on how you looked at it you are getting various views. To be honest: A three-part-picture of this kind is only mentioned very shortly in this story. But it could be interpreted as characteristically fort he characters of this book which are being presented in various perspectives.


          4. The main characters
          *****************************
          ***a) Michael Ormewood
          I used to like places, times and characters best, who have something in common with me and my live. That makes it easier for me to identify. But don't get me wrong: I certainly don't escpect those parts of a story being completely similar to my personal life. But I have to find them interesting in a way - although that does not mean that I would be fascinated by crimes which are also part of some of the books I do read.
          Michael Ormewood ist he first character, who is getting a greater space in triptych. At first he has been a type of character I could not identify with. He is a man about 45-55, a veteran of war who hasn't yet come over what he has experienced in war. Now he is with the police. You can get the impression, that he isn't neither enjoying his job nor his private life. There are two reasons: The first one is making him human in a most positive way, he is taking care of his son who is mentally retarded. Then his marriage is almost ruined: His wife doesn't want to sleep with him any longer, he is having an affair with his neighbor.
          Is Ormewood some kind of looser? Yes and no. On the one hand he also seems to be a looser, being less favorable compared to his new, good looking, well dressed colleague Will Trent. Ormewood seems almost to be offended by this. On the other hand Karin Slaughter is managing that the reader is coming out in sympathy for him.

          ***b) Will Trent
          If you are thinking about it Will Trent is rather the type of man who could be expected to play the rhole of a hero. He is federal agent and that makes him more powerful than Michael. Will is good looking. But he doesn't just count on his good looks. He is trying to convince even questionable people as pimps to give him their statements.
          That ist he kind of Will Trent whom we get to know in the first part of the story which is concentrating rather on Michael Ormewood. Later on you get to know quite a lot more on this police agent, you get to know him from a more vulnerable point of view. When he was a kid, young Will has been beaten up and tortured with a burning cigarette. That caused scars, inner and outer ones. His suit is a kind of protection for him, he doesn't like to bet he person he is, he doesn't like to show his skin - because of his scars.


          ***c) Angie Polaski
          In the first part, Angie is just playing a supporting role. As a colleague of Michael, you first get the impression from his point of view, one of a beautiful but also very self convinced woman. But in "real life" Angie is knowing quite a bit on the cases she is workung on. Though you could think her to be a prostiutte at first sight.
          After reading the whole story, I'm not shure what to thing: Angie's looks have to do with the special part of her job, she is dealing with prostitures and pimps and is also playing a whore from time to time as long as it is necessary for her to gain new insights for her job as a police agent. Part of her looks have also another reason: She seems to see it as a kind of protection - which links her in some way to Will. There is another link: They also share their rather difficult childhood. Both have been grown up in children's homes and foster families - both have been abused. Though Will has been a kind of brother to her, they've also been lovers. But she didn't manage to have a permanent relationship with him.

          ***d) John Shelley
          If you look at Michael Ormewood as some kind of looser you seem to be bond to name John Shelley a looser as well. And that seems to be clear although Shelley has had a good position from which he has started into life: His father has been a doctor, his mother sold houses and stopped working to take care for her husband and children. Though his family has had enough money, John stopped to go to school more and more often, he took drugs, and finally he was found guilty killing a 15 ear old girl. After 20 years in prison, John is working at a car wash. When he is just asking for a TV set in an electric store, John is getting to know that there seems to be another John Shelley who is seen as very trustworthy (concerning money) - which "our" John is not.
          Once more, Karin Slaughter is describing a character, whose life is very much different from those lives of most of the readers. She is describing him and also the other three main characters, Ormewood, Trent, Polaski in a way, which makes you fancy being close to them, which is keeping the readers being interested in what is happening to them. This is one of the strong sides of this story. I personally can't identify with any of the four. Nevertheless Slaughter manages to make them attractive since you get to know about their personal backgrounds and on their weak sides.


          4. The story
          ****************
          At the very beginning of the story there is a part from newspaper, there will be many others to follow. It is about the fifteen year old Mary Alice Finney who has been murdered. The girl was in high shool, she was cheerleader, had good looks, was popular, her father was a stat attorney. Slowly, in between the other chapters, you get to know more about Mary Alice beeing killed and about a John Shelley who was taken into custody and that he was judged to be her murder. He has also been a youth, also had good and wealthy parents. This part of the story is taking place in the year 1985.
          20 years later, Michael Ormewood is a police agent in Atlanta/Georgia/USA He used to be a soldier, now he is called to a place where somone has been killed. A woman, a drug addicted prostitute has been found in a dirty part of Altlanta. Her tung has been cut or bitten off. I know that even this detail might prevent some people from reading the story. But I can recommend people who find such stories interesting but who don't like such details to quickly read through those passages, without taking into you every small detail.
          Michael is suprised because a federal agent, Will Trent, is interested in this case as well. He thinks that there are parallels combining the case with others - especially the tung. In Atlanta Trent is meating Angie Polaski again, she is a woman whom he has been knowing for 25 years - since both have been kids.
          A short time afterwards Ormewood and Trent are called to another place of murder, to a place close to Michaels neighbourhood. He is afraid that something might have happend to his mentally retarded son or his wife. His wife is crying and Michael is getting a shock as well: The dead person is a girl from the house next door.
          2006, a year later, John Shelley is out of prison. He ist he one who was sentenced to a 20 year imprinsonment fort he murder of Mary Alice. You get to known how he got on the wrong track in the past. And, by chance, we are getting to know that there seems to be another man who pretends to be John Shelley. John is trying to find out about this man. And he is falling in love with a prostitute.


          5. Themes
          *************
          ***a) The nightmares after war
          In the states of western Europe there aren't probably many people who are younger than 60 and who know about the nightmares you get after war. Those, who went through terrible moments in war, are rather people who fled from regions of war or they are soldiers. From time to time, those who have been in Iraq or Afghanistan report on there convoys being attaacked and their fellow soldiers being killed.
          Under US-american soldiers who have been in Vietnam, nightmares of war seem to be quite common. It was an event which had its effects on the whole nation, many of the verans knew the pictures of death, suffering, distruction and they still can't get rid of them. At the very beginning of triptych you could guess that Michael Ormewood is one of these soldiers, having his own nightmares of war. It takes some time for the readers to get to know that the war had its influences on Michael but that there were other things which have been more important.

          ***b) To get on the wrong side
          It is easy for people to say: "He or she has had a bad childhood, no caring parents, no money, so he began to steal and murder." It is more difficult to find reasons if a child has been brought up in a caring, loving, wealthy family. Nevertheless Karin Slaughter is suceeding to describe in a very good way how John Shelley got on the wrong track. One reason was that the other students at school didn't accept John. He was a rather small boy and wasn't allowed to join the football team. He took a liking in Mary Alice but she wouldn't talk to him. On the other hand there was the fact that John admired his older cousin Woody. He dreamed of being like him and that was one reason why John started taking drugs.
          Will Trent seems to have taken another way. As a child he was abused again an again in various foster families. But he tried to fight and he managed to keep some secrets from the people around hin e.g. that he couldn't read. Since he managed to deceive the others he was able to make a career.

          ***Scars of the past
          The theme "scars of the past" is a theme which combines the first town themes and even combines the four main characters. Will and Trent have real, physical scars of the past, caused by being beaten up an abused when they were children. The same thing can be said about John - who was abused by his fellow prisoners when he was sixteen. Michael Ormewood's scars seem to be of another kind. The Michael whom we meet at first seems to have scars caused by his suffering because his son is mentally retarded and his wife rejects him (in bed).
          Through showing those scars of her characters Karin Slaughter gives them something secial. In normal life you probably won't get to know such things about the people arround you, probably only very close friends would share their grief with you.
          Especially with Will Trent there is a very strong contrast: At first you can get the feeling that he is very self confident, good looking and well dressed. But then you get to know that his nice suit is just some kind of cover to reveal his hurt and his self confidence which isnt that strong at all. In some way the same thing can be said about Angie Polaskie. She takes here cheap dresses, her make up not only for the rhole she plays as a police woman but also to protect her from being hurt.


          7. Comparison to other Slaughter-stories
          *******************************************
          If I had the choice; I'd have asked for another story from the Grant Country series - because I do like the characters a lot. But Karin Slaughter has managed to surprise me with a new surrounding, new characters. She has absolutely convinced me. The main reason is the fact which I've just described: The characters have also got their weak moments, it makes them real. And it causes the longing to keep on reading, to get to know what happens next to Michael and John, to Will and Angie. That does make me state that I think "Triptych" to be Karin Slaughter's best story - at least when I compare those I know up to now. And I have to say that I'm quite suprised that Triptych has got rather bad reviews in the past her on Dooyoo's UK page.


          8. Perspectives
          *********************
          Slaughter has chosen quite an interesting way of presenting her perspectives. The theme of the murder of Mary Alice is presented in a very unconventional way by showing scraps from a newspaper.
          Afterwards there are two bigger parts, the first one accompanying Michael Ormewood very intensively and the second one which deals with John Shelley. You are getting to know these characters quite well, you get close to them. Afterwards Slaughter is changing perspectives faster, changing from John's side to Will's or Angie's.
          This way of telling the story has the effect, that you are kept within the story. At first I was attracted by the longer passages. Afterwards the changes have caused speed in reading the book.


          9. Readability of the English version (seen from point of view of a German reader)
          ****************************************************
          To my opinion Karin Slaughter has got a kind of language, a way of writing which is not always very easy for German or other foreign readers. In some passages I'm glad not to understand every very detail. Judged altogether I find it quite okay to read the book in the English version. It helps be keeping my English language knowledge uptodate.


          10. Readers
          ***************
          First and foremost "Triptych" is a book apt for people who like thrillers. I don't like to say, who shouldn't read the book - neither from questions of age nor from gender.


          11. Facts: The book
          *************************
          Karin Slaughter - Triptych - 2006 - Bantham Dell - ISBN: 978-0-440-24292-5
          In Germany the prize is also a question of where you buy a book. Meanwhile there is a steady prize for German books, English versions can be sold rather cheap or rather expesive.


          12. Pro's and con's
          **************************************
          Pro's
          - very strong characters
          - excellent readability
          - suprize

          Con's- nothing (from my point of view)


          13. Results
          *********************
          I can really recommend "Triptych" by Karin Slaughter. From my point of view it is her best book till now - even compared to her Grant-Country-stories. The most convincing point are the characters which are described very well. You get very close to them, can accompany them through what is happening to them. Author Karin Slaughter manages to surprise the readers and to give the story the special something through those surprising moments. I can't find any arguments speaking against reading this books. That is why I recommend "Triptych" by Karin Slaughter - and I certainly give the best mark - five stars.

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            19.02.2008 10:04
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            'Triptych' is not at all a novel that I would recommend.

            I am generally not particularly inclined to reading books. Other than the Harry Potter series and the occasional autobiography in fact, 'Triptych' is probably the only book that I have read in the last few years. The reason for this is that I find it extremely difficult to find books that capture and hold my attention and therefore when I begin reading a book I generally do not finish. I would much rather watch the film if there is one available as I find that films capture my attention far more easily and leave me much less open to becoming sidetracked. 'Triptych' is one book that I did happen to finish, a book that I bought whilst travelling on a long train journey some months back. The cover caught my eye, a dark and mysterious book which informed me that it was a tale of 'Three people with something to hide. One killer with nothing to lose'. It was WH Smith's title of the week at the time meaning that the usual price tag of £6.99 for the softback had been reduced to £3.49. I was sold, and setting off from the station I began to delve into the fictional world of 'Triptych'.

            'Triptych' as a novel has three separate storylines, the novel begins with an in depth look into the lives of all three of our main men. One of our key protagonists is Michael Ormewood, a detective in the force. We learn that Michael has a wife called Gina whom he sees very little due to their hectic work schedules, and a son called Tim who was deprived of oxygen at some stage during Gina's pregnancy and therefore will never mentally develop past the level of a six-year-old. Michael is quite a cold man and an instantly detestable character, there is something quite unsavoury about him that you can't help but have a hatred for. A second storyline focuses in on the character of John Shelley. Shelley has had a troubled life, having spent some time in prison for a crime he proclaims adamantly that he did not commit. He how works in a car garage for minimum wage and is clearly unhappy in his work. Unlike with Michael, Shelley is a character whom we feel great empathy for and is at times quite a likeable character. At others however, we find we do not like him at all and remain constantly in the balance as the novel progresses as to whether to trust this man or not. He possesses some lovely personality traits, but also some really rather horrid ones.

            A third focus is on the character of Will Trent. This third and final perspective we gain is an interesting one of a Special Agent within the police force. Clearly a lonely man living in solitude with his dog Betty, Will is a hard character to pin down and there just seems to be something missing from his life. A lady that he longs for is not a constant fixture and although he wants for them to be together, he understands that realistically this is not something that could ever happen. Whilst the lives of Michael Ormewood and John Shelley are given long-winded explanations, this third character is given much less focus and just as we begin to feel like we're getting to know Will Trent the novel starts switching between each of our three key characters. We never quite know where we are as it switches backwards and forwards in time in pursuit of the three key protagonists, chopping and changing chapter by chapter.

            I feel that on the whole the novel is all a little messy. Not long after I had began reading the novel I already began to guess the ending and saw it coming from a long way off. There are a few twists and turns as 'Triptych' progresses, however it does very little in order to maintain your interest. The only reason I read to the end of this novel was so that I could get on with my life happily in the knowledge that it had all been more than a little predictable. I did not find the novel particularly engaging at all, but wanted to read to the end as quickly as possible just in order to get the whole ordeal over and done with. I wanted to prove myself right about the direction the novel had been taking right from the very beginning, however at the same time I found doing so an extremely tedious job and do not believe that there is enough going on to keep the reader engaged and interested throughout the duration of the novel. I have heard great things about Karin Slaughter as a writer and novelist, however it would seem that 'Triptych' is not at all one of her finer works.

            I couldn't help but feel disappointed when I read this novel, I really thought I was going to enjoy it but enjoyment just wasn't gained through reading it and nothing really stood out to me about the novel whatsoever. The characters are not particularly interesting to read about, and none of three chosen as key have histories that provide for enthralling reading. Within the past of each of the three there are elements that are appealing, but on the whole none of their histories read well and what may start off as an interesting past soon becomes tiresome and reading on becomes a great chore. When the novel was nearing its end and the three sub-plots became intertwined I found it all a little disorientating and the way in which the novel progresses from then on is more than a little messy. Nothing reads particularly coherently and although the three are all interlinked, it all just fails to connect.

            'Triptych' is a murderous tale that in my opinion just does not work, by the time the end of the novel came about in fact I was long since bored. Each and every word was read, and yet the novel had no impact on me whatsoever. I was wanting to feel moved as the novel progressed and intrigued to read on, there was no such excitement however and intrigue was always kept at a minimum. All three of the novels narrators are interconnected, and yet the mess that is caused by the time the novel reaches its end is catastrophic. Karin Slaughter is best known for her Grant County series, and I feel really that she should have stuck to what she knows best. With Grant County she has obviously found a winning formula that many can read and enjoy, but with 'Triptych' things just don't seem to work for her. I commend her efforts in trying to branch out, but I just don't feel that 'Triptych' is a novel that works. I certainly did not enjoy the novel and although I am sure there will be some out there that will, 'Triptych' is not a novel that I personally would recommend.

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              31.08.2007 10:18
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              seen this done before, seen this done better, not what you expect from Karin Slaughter

              If I could think of three words to describe this novel they would probably be awful, awful and ....let me think ......how about awful??!!??

              The first of her published novels NOT set in Grant County and NOT featuring Sara Linton and her on-again-off-again police chief husband Jeffrey Tolliver, this book struck me as a bit of a mess from almost the very first page. To say I was a bit disappointed with this book by the normally impressive Karin Slaughter, is a bit of an understatement- in fact it reads more like a debut novel than her first novel did. I think it fair to say that I could find no redeeming feature about this novel whatsoever....

              Working girl, Aleesha Monroe is found on the stairwell of her building with her tongue bitten off, lying in a pool of her own blood. Atlanta Police Detective, Michael Ormewood is called to the scene and finds himself partnered with a suit from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with whom he instantly forms a complete dislike and disregard for. Special Agent, Will Tent is already investigating similar murders and hopes that together the two of them can crack the case but he too feels the tension with Michael and has his own feelings and intuition about the Detective.

              Right from the beginning, Michael is not an easy character to empathise with or indeed like and, although this later becomes apparent why he is portrayed as such, still it makes it very hard to form a connection very early on. He has a mentally challenged son (Michael describes him as retarded but I don't personally like that word), his marriage is slightly rocky and feeling the strain of both their hectic working lives (his wife is a nurse) and Michael is sleeping with his fifteen year old neighbour under the guise of going over there to do some repairs.

              When another murder occurs hot on the heels of the last crime scene, things begin to hot up and it is at this point the book flashes back to the next character we are introduced to- an ex-con with an allegedly shady past living on the poverty line and trying to make ends meet. John Shelley was convicted of murder and sexual assault but has scince been released into society but when he discovers that someone has used his name to build a credible credit history while he was inside, the story takes a turn and seemingly alters the way it is headed.

              I know- this doesn't sem too bad does it? Except that John Shelley also is not an easy character to like and, at times, not as believable or as credible as the characters we are normally used to from such a high calibre of writer. In fact mid-way through the chapters with Shelley is when I started to get very, very bored and began skimmming chapters to hasten the end. If I got to the climax and enjoyed it a bit more I could always go back and re-read it properly....

              Except this never happened. The pace never picked up and I was left feeling ever so slightly cheated from a book I had wanted and anticipated to be a refreshing change of pace from her more regular series.

              Karin Slaughter is not the only author to try this.... Patrica Cornwell tried branching out with Southern Cross and Hornets nest only for the reader to discover that without Kay Scarpetta her books lacked anything even resembling any substance. This was kind of a death knell for her because the remainder of the Scarpetta series were never as good and often at times felt forced or churned out rather than written with any love of the character anymore.

              John Connolly, another firm favourite of mine, also tried his hand at breaking away from his Charlie Parker series with the less-than-impressive-but very-good-attempt-nonetheless thriller Bad Men set on a mythical island called Sanctuary and the modern analogy of fairytales that was The Book Of Lost Things; neither of which were paticulary brilliant, the latter of which was just bizarre with its comparisons I thought to the movie Labyrinth and its not-so-subtley hidden message about forgotten childhood and the loss of a parent. Thankfully Connolly's latest thriler takes him right back to form but you have to admire these authors for wanting to try something diffrent even if it doesn't always succeed.

              In fact the only authors who have done this successfully in later years are perhaps the writer Michael Marshall Smith who began with sci-fi then moved recently to crime with his "straw men" series and Iain Banks who splits his writing between sci-fi and his other work which often despairs of ever being genred- so diverse is it in style.

              But I digress- in short, this is an awful book from someone normally consistently so good. Thankfully I can report that I have read the newest Grant County novel and in fact Slaughter is way back on form with that but this book is a stark warning that the reader should be wary of anything set outside her normal familiar boundaries.

              Of course I may well be in the minority- others may read Triptych and throughly enjoy it (it has happened before) and I look forward to reading other peoples reviews of this novel for comparison.

              For me though this is a resounding thumbs firmly down and I am sorry to report that indeed, as we say in Norfolk, "I don't like change..."

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