I'm a Karin Slaughter fan, my favourite being the Will Trent series. So I should start by saying this stand-alone is something very different.
We follow Andrea and her mother, Laura. Their separate stories are told in the present (Andrea) and in the past (Laura).
The beginning of the book is brilliant. There's a terrible incident in a diner and Laura shows a side of herself that seems impossible to believe when she stands up to a violent young man.
We then delve into the mystery of Laura when, straight after the diner incident, she turns against her own daughter and tells her to leave home. Laura may face criminal charges for the incident in the diner, but Andrea has no explanation for her mother's bewildering behaviour.
Andrea is a young woman who is lost in life. She drives across America in search of answers about Laura.
The reader is told the backstory of Laura's life. I can't say much without spoilers. What I will say is that Laura's story was believable but it did not stir sympathy in me. In her long and intricate past, she was at times lost and weak, at times manipulated and a victim, and she came from an extremely wealthy background.
Andrea is thirty-one. She lived at home because her job in New York hadn't worked out as she wanted. Her drive in search of answers makes her grow up. It makes her face problems. However, she also puts people in danger and nice people are killed because of her blundering. I found this difficult to forgive.
In summary, I have to say that I didn't really like Andrea or Laura.
Laura has done things that I found believable, and yet they didn't sit comfortably in the story. Maybe because I wasn't expecting terrorism and such like to be included in the book? Or maybe because the plot seems an impossible mix between crime thriller and psychological thriller? Or because the parts about Laura became a bit tedious and drawn out and the tension wasn't really there? I'm not sure.
I think Karin Slaughter is especially good at characters. Anyway, by the end of it all, I have to say my favourite characters were minor ones - Clara and Edwin, and Laura's current estranged husband who is always kept out of the picture but is deeply moral and tries to do the right thing.
Gore and blood is what thrillers are about and this one has it's fair share of brains being splattered. However, there are also huge doses of cruelty and that I found more difficult. Especially when the main characters showed such a lack of morality.
But I can't rate the story low because there was something about it that was very good.
After all, I'm a Karin Slaughter fan and her writing in this book was as great as it usually is. The idea was ambitious. Did she pull it off? Almost.
So it's a four stars from me. And with a bit more tension in Laura's backstory and a bit less whining from Andrea and a bit more insight from her, and it might have been a five.
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