Karin Slaughter brings together some of her most memorable characters in "Broken," her latest thriller. Twenty-one year old Allison Spooner is at the end of her rope. She is short of money, her boyfriend has disappointed her, and her rusted-out hulk of a car is on its last legs. She is struggling to keep up with her college classes at Georgia's Grant Tech while earning a pittance as a waitress in a diner. Sadly, her dream of escaping her tedious life is shattered when an unknown assailant attacks and kills her.
Lena Adams, the senior detective on call, is summoned to the scene. At first, it appears that Spooner may have killed herself, but new evidence points to murder. Lena's boss, interim chief of police Frank Wallace, is not much help. He has been drinking heavily, and his mind is clearly elsewhere. When Wallace, Adams, and Detective Brad Stephens travel to the address where the victim allegedly lived, they discover a possible suspect. What follows is a series of blunders that lead to disaster both for the person taken into custody and the cops who arrest him.
To make matters more complicated, Dr. Sara Linton, who is a pediatrician, medical examiner, and the widow of the former police chief, Jeffrey Tolliver, is visiting her family for Thanksgiving. Sara despises Lena, whom she blames for her late husband's death, and would prefer never to lay eyes on the detective ever again. She acidly tell someone that Lena is "never held accountable for anything. She always manages to slither back under her rock." When Special Agent Will Trent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assigned to look into Allison Spooner's death, he teams up with Sara, whose expertise proves to be invaluable.
"Broken" is an exciting, suspenseful, and poignant tale that shows how people sow the seeds of their own destruction. They withhold vital information, try to cover up their mistakes, and shift blame to others. What results is a needless waste of lives and resources. Sara and Will both have inner demons to contend with, but as they get to know one another, they open up a bit and form a tenuous connection.
Slaughter is a terrific storyteller. The plot is well-constructed and involving, her dialogue is realistic, and the author captures the feeling of life in a small Georgia town where people know everyone else's business and cling tightly to their prejudices and pettiness. The characters are generally well-delineated: Dr. Sara Linton is still in mourning for her husband, although he has been gone for four years; Lena Adams has committed her share of screw-ups, but has always been too stubborn to admit her culpability; Will Grant is a good-hearted man and an excellent detective but he is hiding a secret that, if revealed, may affect his future in the Bureau; Frank Wallace, after thirty-five years on the force, is an alcoholic who no longer has what it takes to function on the job. This is a fast-moving story that falters a bit during the final formulaic confrontation. In general, however, "Broken" works, because Karin Slaughter's compassion for her characters shines through. She depicts them as three-dimensional human beings, warts and all, most of whom would like to fix what is broken in their lives. Unfortunately, not everyone has the courage, honesty, and motivation to face the truth and take the necessary steps to rectify what is wrong.
This mystery set in a small Georgia town primarily deals with the investigation into a seemingly corrupt police department. I found the first third of the book to be rather gripping. The characters were strong, the relationships were realistic and compelling, and the mystery was tightly woven.
The climax of this novel left me disappointed, however. The resolution felt sloppy and many revelations came out of nowhere. The motivations of key characters broke down. The last two chapters of the book really felt like they came out of left field.
Since reading the book (my first by the author), I've discovered that "Broken" is one of many books featuring this set of characters. Perhaps fans of Slaughter's other novels will be able to appreciate "Broken" more than I. Knowing now that this is not a one-off novel, I can say I probably would have benefited from reading her other works first. In many ways this novel can stand alone, but if you chose to read it as such, you may find yourself feeling a little out of the loop.
Very exciting book with great character development. Two women in conflict and I couldn't tell which one was the "bad guy." I liked them both. I think it takes great writing skill to make even a flawed character seem likeable. The author holds the solution to the mystery (three murders) until the very end and keeps you guessing throughout. I highly recommend this book.
Closure. At least closure for the two people still feeling the impact of Jeffrey Tolliver's death. The murder that brings Will Trent to Grant County is just the catalyst that forces all the players to face their anger, betrayal, and grief at losing Jeffrey. Not that the murder mystery is not an important part of this book, but for readers of this series, it is just the background keeping the main characters we are obsessed with engaged with each other. The murders force a police department to unravel and secrets to fall out. Sara finds some resolution with her grief over Jeffrey's death and Lena takes a long hard look in the mirror at who she truly is. Slaughter delivers another winning installment in this series. I think we will finally be leaving Grant County behind us and moving forward in Atlanta. I can't wait to see where Slaughter takes Will and Sara....
Excellent, very satisfying continuation of the Grant County series. Love the way the characters' lives move forward, and this has cross-over with the Will Trent character(s).
If you are reading books in the Grant County series, I strongly recommend that you read "Beyond Reach" first. Otherwise, the contents of this book (Broken) will have major spoilers for Beyond Reach.