Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Review - Cop Town
Random House Australia
I first picked up one of Karin Slaughter's books at the library on a whim, and it was basically love at first sight. First read? First something, anyway. While her books always have an element of the icky or disturbing about them, they're always massively compelling and filled with fascinating and deeply flawed characters, and I've yet to read one of her books that I haven't absolutely loved. So I was pretty freaking excited when I got an email saying I'd been approved for an ARC of this one.
About the book:
Cop Town is quite different to Slaughter's other books to date. For starters, it's a stand-alone which is pretty exciting because it means I won't be frantically refreshing her Goodreads page hoping for news of a release date for the next installment! But there's also more of an emphasis on police work in general than there is in any of her other books, which always seem to focus exclusively on one particular case.
Cop Town is set in Atlanta in the mid-1970s, and takes place over the course of about a week. Our protagonists are two female cops - Maggie Lawson, who's from a cop family and joined the force about five years earlier, and Kate Murphy, who's about to start her first day on the job, and who's woefully unprepared for it. Five police officers have been shot dead on patrol in recent months, including Maggie's older brother's partner, and it's believed a murderer known as "The Shooter" is responsible. Maggie's uncle planted evidence on a suspect months earlier which led to the suspect being found not guilty at trial, so the police are desperate to find the man responsible.
It's not an easy book to read. As one might expect of a book set in the South during the 1970s, it's riddled with just about every type of offensive statement you could imagine. The female police officers - of whom there are only a handful - are treated with extreme misogyny by their male counterparts and, often, by members of the public. Despite the Civil Rights movement, the police force is effectively still segregated, and racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic remarks and epithets are par for the course. So it's not an easy book to read, despite its historical accuracy.
Where the ick factor in Slaughter's other books comes from the way in which the victims are murdered, here it's from the way anyone who's not a straight white man is treated. In addition to all the racist and sexist comments, we add a dose of police brutality. Every character has their own prejudices and every character is flawed, even if they have redeeming characteristics. As Kate asks her father and grandmother at one point, "How can they be so awful, yet they do these good things?". Because these characters, just like the real world, are massively complex.
Though the story is often difficult to read, it's also enormously compelling and I found myself unable to put the book down. The writing is incredible, bringing the world and the characters to life with ease. There were plenty of twists and turns, and a surprising amount of character development considering the story takes place over the course of only a few days. I could have done with a couple less chapters from the killer's point of view, because they became a little same-same-but-different after a while. But on the whole? It was a fabulous, if dark and gritty read.
Have you read any of Karin Slaughter's books? Does this sound like something you'd be interested in?
Disclaimer: I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Cop Town is available now.