This is a review for an adult novel.
Series: Will Trent, #7
Release Date: July 2nd, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Word Rating: Exhilarating
Reviewed by: Kate
Karin Slaughter’s New York Times bestselling novels are utterly riveting and masterfully drawn. Her latest thriller, Unseen, pits detectives, lovers, and enemies against one another in an unforgettable standoff between righteous courage and deepest evil.
Bill Black is a scary guy: a tall ex-con who rides to work on a Harley and trails an air of violence wherever he goes. In Macon, Georgia, Bill has caught the eye of a wiry little drug dealer and his cunning girlfriend. They think Bill might be a useful ally. They don’t know that Bill is actually a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent named Will Trent. Or that he is fighting his own demons, undercover and cut off from the support of Sara Linton—the woman he loves, who cannot be told of the risk Will is taking.
Sara herself has come to Macon because of a cop shooting: Her stepson, Jared, has been gunned down in his own home. Sara holds Lena, Jared’s wife, responsible: Lena, a detective, has been a magnet for trouble all her life, and Jared’s attack is not the first time someone Sara loved got caught in the crossfire. Furious, Sara finds herself involved in the same case that Will is working without even knowing it, and soon danger is swirling around both of them.
In a novel of fierce intensity, shifting allegiances, and shocking twists, two investigations collide with a conspiracy straddling both sides of the law. Karin Slaughter’s latest is both an electrifying thriller and a piercing study of human nature: what happens when good people face the unseen evils in their lives.
This review contains mild spoilers for Slaughter's Grant County series.
I have been reading crime thrillers since I was nine years old, and I've yet to find a writer who can serve this genre better than Karin Slaughter. All but one of her novels are really exceptional, and Unseen is the best so far. The crimes are gruesome and the violence is intense, but I am a human who faints at the sight of blood, and I can handle it, so I don't think it's excessive. Men tend to compliment Slaughter by saying she writes like a man, which is, you know, condescending and not really a compliment, but I think it does give you a good feel for her writing style, which can be a bit butch in the best possible way.
The characters are so richly drawn, their flaws and quirks presented without judgment from the author, that everything that happens to them feels real and raw and immediate. And she's not afraid to kill them off. Once I start reading one of these novels, I cannot go to sleep until I've finished it because WHAT IF WILL DIES and OH GOD NO THEY CAN'T BREAK UP and PLEASE SOMEONE KILL LENA BECAUSE SHE IS THE ABSOLUTE WORST and, seriously, WHAT IF WILL DIES.
When the book opens, Will is undercover as a biker with a criminal past (he watched Sons of Anarchy to prepare for the assignment because he is adorable and I love him) in Macon, Georgia, where Lena is a detective. You guys, Lena really is just the absolute worst. She makes those dumb anti-feminist Mila Kunis jokes--you know, like directing "What are you, a bunch of little girls?" and "Are you on your period?" at dudes. Because women are weak and worthy of your ridicule and...I freaking hate Lena. And she's mean to Sara, who is the most awesome character.
It took four books to get Will and Sara to the point where they are finally together (although he is still technically married to someone else), and like an idiot he is not being completely truthful about his undercover assignment because he knows she'll be scared for him and also because he was there when the people he's undercover with broke into her stepson (who is in a coma)'s house and shot him. This is a disaster waiting to happen, especially once Sara has to go to Macon herself. Even Will's awesome harpy of a boss Amanda tries to talk him into telling Sara what's going on. Because obviously it's dumb to lie about important things and she will have to dump him if she finds out about it. Oh, speaking of Amanda's amazingness:
You know you can catch more flies with honey.
Yes, Faith, thank you. That's exactly what I need is more flies.
There was really only one thing that bothered me about this book, and it actually made me kind of angry to the point that I slammed my kindle shut (and then immediately reopened it so I could finish reading). There's a point near the end where a clue comes out because of someone's name. And Will makes a slight logical leap, but it's not really a big deal, because he's freaking brilliant and clearly right, and even if he's wrong, he has to look into it because better safe than sorry and all that. But then he says, to clarify why he's right, "[redacted]'s not a common name here."
So here's the deal. I grew up in the tiniest of tiny rural towns 35 miles north of Macon--so, like, midway between Macon and Atlanta. And because of this, I know that that name, the one I redacted for spoiler reasons, is literally the single most popular name for men in that part of the country. Three of my ten best guy friends in high school had it, as did at least two of my friends' dads. About one out of every fifty males I know in the state of Georgia goes by that name. Slaughter lives in Georgia. How could she make a mistake like this?
The Grant County books (which take place in a fake county near Macon) are:
The Will Trent books:
Please don't break the reading order. I read the Will Trent series first and then went back and read the Grant County books, and that was a huge mistake.
Still, you have to have to have to read these books, and they need to be read in a pretty specific order. They're sorted wrong on Goodreads, which is really annoying because, as I said above, sometimes Slaughter gets rid of characters, and if you get the order wrong you'll miss out on a lot of surprises. The Grant County series absolutely must be read first. Absolutely. Must.
A Faint, Cold Fear
Criminal (This one is garbage. You should skip it.)
Trigger warning: This book contains portrayals of rape, child abuse, sexual abuse of children, and extreme violence.