(My amazing friend Amy gave this to me as a birthday gift!) 💕
“Nothing ever truly faded. Time only dulled the edges.”
Friends, I’m going to be real with you all upfront; this is a really fucked up book. Before I even start my review, I’m going to list all the content and trigger warnings: graphic rape, pedophilia, penetration using an object, graphic deaths, mention of suicide, loss of a loved one, police brutality, racist comments, hurtful ableist comments, misgendering, arson, a school shooting, extreme bullying, miscarriages, grey-area cheating, and a lot of violence. Please use caution and make sure you are in a safe mindset before picking this story up, and before reading my review.
I also want to state that I haven’t been reading thrillers lately. This has been my first crime thriller in a few years, actually. But regardless, Karin Slaughter really blew me away. I knew going in that she is a very beloved thriller author, and now I can totally see why. This story, as dark as it is, is so intelligently and expertly crafted. The twists were hard to see coming, the parallels left me haunted, and the ending was so very brutal.
This is a story about two sisters who are still grieving from a harrowing, unspeakable, horrible event that happened to them twenty-eight years ago. The book starts out with a flashback chapter, where we quickly learn that a home invasion is happening, because the girls’ father is a very liberal lawyer in a very conservative and small town.
➽ Charlie – Has stayed close to her father and is still living in the town that has never made her feel welcome, but especially after that dark day. Charlie is a lawyer, currently separated from her husband, while grieving so many losses, and just happened to have her first one-night stand.
➽ Sam – Moved far away from the town that hurt her and her family. Sam is a very successful lawyer in New York, but she keeps a great distance from her sister and father. She is also disabled, uses a cane at times, really has to focus on her speech, and has limited vision. Sam is grieving all alone, while trying to forget everything she has left behind.
These two sisters haven’t seen each other in a decade, but a new terrible event in their small hometown brings them both back together. And they both, unwillingly, become completely tangled up in a new case that could send a possibly innocent girl to death row. I loved both of these sisters so very much. I will say that I probably enjoyed Charlie’s point of view a little more, but I liked Sam’s character more.
Another thing I want to briefly touch on is that Charlie and Sam’s father’s best friend, Lenore, is a transwoman. There are flashbacks to before Lenore had transitioned, and her deadname is used. I don’t remember any “hurtful” comments, but there are a few careless comments, that do involve misgendering, so please use caution. I really did love this character so much, and I was happy with the inclusion, but it could have been done a lot more respectfully. Also, I am cis, but I would love to hear from trans reviewers about how they feel.
I don’t want to give anything away, because the secrets and mysteries are what make thrillers so much fun to read, but I’m going to try to tell you why this ended up being a four star read, but I’m going to be very vague. But maybe skip over this paragraph if you want to go completely blind into this story. Rusty actually irritated me throughout the novel, but he did have his redeeming parts where I actually started to like him. But the ending, and his secret really pissed me off. Like, infuriated me. I get he thought what he was doing was protecting, but it wasn’t, it was fucked up. The other thing was I really didn’t like the way Kelly’s story ended. It just left me feeling depressed, and heartbroken, and I really wish Charlie would have taken her under her wing or something. I hate seeing sad cycles continue to be sad, and I just wish I could have gotten a little more happiness, especially for a character who needed happiness so badly. Basically, the first 80% of this book is an easy five star read, but the ending left me a little too sad to give it.
Overall, I really loved my first Karin Slaughter book. I think this book would be perfect for the spooky, Halloween season (as long as you are in a safe mindset)! I think this was expertly crafted and it really did keep me on the edge of my seat the entire time. I fell so hard in love with these two main characters, even though my heart was breaking constantly for them. But this story blew me away, left me breathless, and I can’t wait to pick up another book by this author!