~by Karin Slaughter
When review copies were being offered of Karin Slaughter's Undone (also known under the title Genesis outside of the United States), I managed to snag a copy. I picked it up for a few reasons: I've been trying to expose myself more to the mystery genre, the cover is quite distinctive, and a quick glance at LibraryThing told me that Slaughter has a pretty devoted fanbase worldwide and has won and been nominated for several awards. I hadn't read any of her books before Undone and at first hadn't realized that it brings together two of her previous series and marks the beginning of another--it is the seventh book in the Grant County series (featuring Sara Linton), the third book in the Atlanta series (featuring Will Trent), and the first book in what is to be the Georgia series (featuring both them and other recurring characters).
Driving home after their anniversary celebration, the last thing that Henry and Judith Coldfield expected was to be in an accident; but they could never have anticipated a head-on collision with a terrified woman standing in the road. Found naked and showing obvious signs of abuse and torture, she is taken to the Grady hospital in Atlanta. Dr. Sara Linton, still overcoming the death of her husband, attends the victim upon her arrival at the emergency room. Special Agent Will Trent and his partner Faith Mitchell from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation also happen to be at the hospital when the woman is brought in. All three soon find themselves involved in solving the terrible crime. The woman is in extremely bad shape and it doesn't take long to discover other missing persons cases that may be related; more women that have gone missing in the area under similar circumstances. Judging from Anna's state, the first victim to be found, the investigators must work quickly to locate the other women and their abductor--they won't be able to survive long under such cruel and brutal conditions. But if left without leads and without much information to go on, they soon will run out of time.
Will was probably my favorite character in the book, so I wasn't disappointed when it seemed like he and Faith were being featured more prominently than Sarah (who actually kinda annoyed me for most of the story--she just seemed too perfect, especially compared to the others who showed plenty of flaws). The plot itself was paced very nicely and didn't rely too heavily on coincidence, although it did some extent. I did like how the book was sectioned off into days, which was helpful in keeping track of what was happening when. Otherwise, it would have been pretty easy to lose track, there was so much going on. One thing that was particularly frustrating for me (and for the investigators as well) was the degree to which police politics were involved--to the extent that it actually interfered with the case being solved. I really hope this doesn't happen so often in real life.
Slaughter is a very intense writer and at times rather gruesome and disturbing, but she definitely knows how to write and addicting story. She doesn't shy away from using strong language, which didn't bother me a bit; other readers might be, but it was certainly used appropriately and in context. People really do talk like that. Not having read any of her books before, I wasn't sure what to expect or if I would be able to jump into the middle of a series. Fortunately, Undone, in addition to being a great read, actually stands pretty well on its own. Certainly, I could tell there was some background information I was missing out on and some scenes were obviously included as part of a larger series arc rather than being directly related to the case (I found Will and Angie's relationship particularly puzzling), but none of this prevented my understanding or enjoyment of the story overall. In fact, I started reading Triptych (the first Will Trent book) immediately after I finished Undone. I think Slaughter may have found a new avid reader.