Source: Review copy
Publication: 23 June 2020 from Harper Collins
Atlanta, Georgia. Present day. A young woman is brutally attacked and left for dead. The police investigate but the trail goes cold. Until a chance assignment takes GBI investigator Will Trent to the state penitentiary, and to a prisoner who says he recognises the MO. The attack looks identical to the one he was accused of eight years earlier. The prisoner’s always insisted that he was innocent, and now he’s sure he has proof. The killer is still out there.
As Will digs into both crimes it becomes clear that he must solve the original case in order to reach the truth. Yet nearly a decade has passed—time for memories to fade, witnesses to vanish, evidence to disappear. And now he needs medical examiner Sara Linton to help him hunt down a ruthless murderer. But when the past and present collide, everything Will values is at stake.
It is such a privilege to be starting off this epic blog tour for a book that I have wanted to read since I first heard it was to be published. My sincere thanks to Harper Collins for the opportunity.
Honestly, I do not know how she does it. After 20 books in 20 years, a massive achievement in itself, Karin Slaughter has outdone herself with her 10th Will Trent book and a return to Grant County.
I have read every single one of these books and they never, ever disappoint. This one, though…well this one is a real cracker. The Silent Wife kicks it way out of the park and then some.
Will Trent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations is investigating in the aftermath of a prison riot where a prisoner was murdered when one of the inmates, Daryl Nesbitt offers information on why the prisoner was killed and by whom. His offer comes at a price though: he claims to be innocent of the crimes he was convicted for and says he can provide the proof that shows that innocence. If the GBI will at least re-open his case and see that he was fitted up, he’ll share his information.
The problem is that Nesbitt is inside for a series of really savage murders and attacks perpetrated against women and the man who allegedly fitted him up was no other than Sara Linton’s ex-husband, the now deceased Jeffrey Tolliver.
Will and Sarah are going through a patch of sticky communication problems and this claim is just the icing on the cake for Will. Sarah’s love for Jeffrey was immense – she married him twice after all, and Will not only doesn’t want to tell Sarah about the claims that he was a dirty cop, he’s also not that sure that he wants to see Jeffrey exonerated.
But this is Will Trent, straight as a die – a man incapable of not doing the right thing when it comes to his job.
Cooper has claimed that the murders have carried on after his incarceration and he supplies the GBI with the details of more women murdered with the same MO. And so Will and Sara begin their investigation into the deaths of the women highlighted by Nesbitt and start to consider the past cases for which he was sentenced.
This means paying a visit to the most divisive character in Slaughter’s books – Lena Adamson. Lena is the classic outsider; never the most truthful of cops, with a difficult personal history and as the survivor herself of a fearsome attack, Lena is prickly and difficult. Jeffrey always defended Lena and there’s no way she’s offering any help to those seeking to find out if his judgement was contaminated.
As Sara looks back at the autopsies and other medical evidence, it is soon abundantly clear that, far from stopping these killings by locking Nesbitt up, the killer has been able to refine and improve his murderous skills by covering up his vicious and truly savage murders sufficiently well to make them seem accidental.
By laying the groundwork so well and giving us a dual timeline to work with, Slaughter is able to not only give the reader the information about the investigation of the current day cases, but also to take us back to Grant County and Jeffrey and Lena’s investigations – as well as reprising the point in Jeffrey and Sara’s relationship where she has discovered his infidelity and he’s hoping he can re-instate himself in her affections.
It is the Jeffrey-Sara-Will triangle to die for as Will tries to compete with the ghost of a memory and he and Sara are painfully unable to communicate through the wall that has grown between them.
Slaughter never flinches from showing the brutal side of crimes against women – and be warned that these are especially violent and degrading, but then so are most crimes of this nature. What she also achieves though, through the series, is a portrait of how these women can recover; fight back against the violence that has been unleashed on them and show in a host of different ways how these women have reacted to their circumstances and how they have (when they have) come to terms with them. Her ability to show empathy, grief and sadness in her characters as they find a path through these violations to take steps towards recovery is remarkable.
Of course this classic Slaughter narrative is as sharp and focussed as you would expect. Her story-telling abilities just keep getting stronger and her plot is so beautifully structured that the reader is drawn in deep to a book that sucks you down and refuses to let go.
Mostly though, for me, it’s the characterisation that gets me every time. That sense of the different kinds of love that pervades the book and the characters. The tension between them that makes the sparks that you can feel so palpably between them. Even the disdain and sometimes hatred that one character feels for another, charges the book with meaning. This is an ensemble cast and each is beautifully drawn, finely honed and very real in the reader’s mind so that we fear for them and agonise when they make wrong choices or miss some pretty obvious cues.
As they come closer to pinning down the perpetrator, lives will be put at risk and the intrigue will have you spellbound, but there will be moments when the emotional tension and vulnerability is almost unbearable and that really hits where it hurts the most. It is raw, emotional and utterly propulsive.
Verdict: Outstanding storytelling, brilliant plotting and terrific characterisation combine with a brutal and savage series of killings to propel The Silent Wife straight into the MUST HAVE – MUST READ category.
Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 19 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant Sunday Times bestselling novels Pretty Girls,The Good Daughter and Pieces of Her. The Good Daughter and Cop Town are in development for film and television and Pieces of Her is soon to be an eight-part Netflix adaptation, directed by Lesli Linka Glatter (Mad Men) and produced by Charlotte Stoudt (Homeland) and Bruna Papandrea (Big Little Lies).Karin is the founder of the Save the Libraries project- a non-profit organisation established to support libraries and library programming. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.