Thursday, 22 October 2015

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

A hunt for a killer in a city on the edge...


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 482
Chapters: 34 (Plus a prologue and an epilogue.)
Publisher: Arrow Books

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Get ready for the heavy stuff as Karin Slaughter and her mastery of the thriller genre dive back into the 1970s. And when I say heavy, I mean emotionally weighted with a few dozen skyscraper buildings. We're talking rampant racism, jaw-dropping sexism (predominantly towards women) and haunting homophobia (predominantly towards men).

It's dark, it's prevalent, and there's a killer on the loose in the midst of all the convoluted chaos. You gotta admire Slaughter's dedication and research, because in those areas, she gets a 5/5 Stars.

Cop Town elicits a wide range of feelings with a wide range of aspects. In short: This book is a must for your collection.

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Atlanta, 1974.
Five cops are dead thanks to an idealistic killer who leaves no trace.
The city's police force is in an uproar.
They're arming themselves to the teeth and ready to administer their own brand of justice.
Maggie, a female in a man's profession, and her newbie partner Kate, aren't trusted to help in the manhunt.
But they have their own questions.
And their secret investigation might reveal answers neither of them will like...

Plot - 4.5/5 Stars

The start is a little hard to get into. It's hard, for me personally, because it's such a different time to the one we live in today. I guess one word for that is thankful, I'm thankful not to have been a part of such a fractured world; a world where you're judged by your skin colour, your gender, your sexual orientation, your partner's ethnicity etc. etc. (All of those things still happen today in varying levels, but back then...? Wow.) But after the initial shock though (give it fifty pages), you're immersed. Despite its dark surface Slaughter creates this order you can't help but read through. The realism of such persecution is interestingly conveyed through the way it affects a police precinct.

I would've liked more 'good guys' in a way. More instances of optimism and humanity, but with what we're given, you're in for a journey. The way Slaughter weaves this with her thriller tale leaves you gobsmacked. The sheer talent is unreal. 

Then you take into consideration the case: A man killing the city's cops as if they're nothing. In a time before forensics blew up, the good ol' fashioned detective work is a nice treat. And so are the sidelining surprises and twists that decide to give your brain a kick. 

Despite the slow start, Cop Town picks up like a freight train during the latter half. You're gonna find it tough to catch your breath. When everything culminates in the finale, it's actually satisfying and heartwarming. We come full circle. 

Pace - 4/5 Stars

The first half has an iffy flow, but I get that it's needed. The author no doubt knew a lot of readers would feel out of their depths in such a world, and she creates this vivid picture expertly. 

Characters - 4.5/5 Stars

The cast is another aspect I'd really have liked more 'good' in. The variety of folks we meet in the beginning is much like the plot: Hard to come to terms with. There's no one to really like, no one you want to root for. Everyone is cold, hostile and offensive. Then again, in retrospect, a lot of them have to be to deal with the demons of the day. Like I said, it's a different world with different people facing different obstacles. 

None more so than our female partners, Maggie and Kate. The former a cop who's been on the force for a few years, much to the chagrin of her uncle and brother, both officers themselves; then there's the latter, whose reasoning falls somewhere under survival, or at least, she needs to prove to herself she can. Their stories are exceptional, even if they don't instantly make your Christmas card list. Give it time. The two tough gals have their outer layers peeled and peeled as the story progresses. 

The majority of the men are despicable, and it's another area I'd have liked more diversity in, but the challenges these assholes cause? You just want to kick them where the sun don't shine. I can't fault that the entire cast is intriguing and complicated.

Some of the jokes do go over your head, no matter how much you try to understand them (and some of the ones I did I wish I hadn't). But there's something endearing about the gritty and sometimes baffling camaraderie.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

No problems, only praise. 

Slaughter = Master author. 

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

I'm pretty sad that this is a standalone, the protagonists really grow on you by the end.

For more Karin Slaughter reviews: Index

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