Book Review: Criminal

Criminal (Will Trent #6)
Published By: Delacorte Press
Publication Date: July 3, 2012
Page Count: 448
Source: Purchased by Reviewer
Audience: Adult - Mystery/Thriller

I have been reading and loving Karin Slaughter's books from the very first one, and I really think this is one of the very best that she has written. Criminal took a while to get going, but once it did I found myself glued to my seat, flipping pages over as fast as I could. 

This was a masterclass in plotting. Slaughter wove together two brilliant investigations, spaced 40 years apart and kept both bubbling along. The narrative cut and switched between them, back and forth in time in perfect intervals. Initially I was sad not to see more of Sara Linton and Will Trent. These are characters which I have come to love and I was so happy to see them brought together finally in the last book. Criminal explores the early stages of their relationship, and deals very well with Will's horrific past. In dealing with his past, we are lead through the eyes of Amanda Wagner (Will's GBI boss) and Evelyn Mitchell (the mother of Will's partner Faith) as they investigate their first proper murder case. 

As women on the job in 1975 Amanda and Evelyn face a lot of discrimination, harassment, lack of respect for their abilities, and it was a delight to read about how they dealt with that and persevered. I could really sit through a whole series based on them; their bravery in the face of fear was inspiring. I also enjoyed looking at America in that era... it seemed a little like Mad Men at times... if Betty cooked dinner, put the kids to bed and then went out to kick ass. They did not accept the pathetic police work of their male counterparts, and they took the time to investigate the hideous murders of several prostitutes carefully. In doing so, they revealed a conspiracy that spans through to the current day and affects Sara and Will.

As usual, the gruesome nature of the deaths were shocking (I wouldn't like to spend time in Slaughter's mind!!), and the mortuary scenes were utterly believable. I think where Slaughter really stepped up was in the plot twist department. There were some big ones in Criminal, and they affected Will deeply. His distress and stress responses were written perfectly. 

For anyone who loves a good crime thriller, I can't recommend this author enough - for me, she is the absolute rock star of this genre. Start at the beginning of it all with Blindsighted - fall in love with Sara, Jeffrey and Grant County and read along... you really won't be disappointed. 

Karin Slaughter’s new novel is an epic tale of love, loyalty, and murder that encompasses forty years, two chillingly similar murder cases, and a good man’s deepest secrets.

Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Newly in love, he is beginning to put a difficult past behind him. Then a local college student goes missing, and Will is inexplicably kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot fathom Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. Decades before—when Will’s father was imprisoned for murder—this was his home. . . .
Flash back nearly forty years. In the summer Will Trent was born, Amanda Wagner is going to college, making Sunday dinners for her father, taking her first steps in the boys’ club that is the Atlanta Police Department. One of her first cases is to investigate a brutal crime in one of the city’s worst neighborhoods. Amanda and her partner, Evelyn, are the only ones who seem to care if an arrest is ever made.
Now the case that launched Amanda’s career has suddenly come back to life, intertwined with the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. And these two dauntless investigators will each need to face down demons from the past if they are to prevent an even greater terror from being unleashed.
A masterpiece of character, atmosphere, and riveting suspense, Criminalis the most powerful and moving novel yet from one of our most gifted storytellers at work today.