~by Karin Slaughter
2007 Steel Dagger Award Nominee
Triptych is the second book by Karin Slaughter that I have read. I started it immediately after finishing Undone, one of her more recent novels, which I enjoyed so much that I couldn't wait to read another. Triptych is the first book in her second series and features Will Trent as a primary investigator. Undone is technically the third book in the Atlanta sequence. Another intense and gruesome crime novel, I was not disappointed by Triptych. And seeing as the book was shortlisted for the Crime Writers' Association's Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award in 2007, I'm guessing that others weren't too disappointed either.
Early in February, Atlanta Detective Michael Ormewood is called to investigate the death of Aleesha Monroe. She is found the staircase to her apartment, an anonymous tip called in, brutally beaten and raped, her tongue bitten off by the attacker. The investigation is soon joined by Will Trent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigations; more cases have been identified across the state over the last year that may be connected. Only, no definite pattern has emerged except that each of the victims' tongues were mutilated. Nearly two decades earlier, Jonathan Shelley was incarcerated for the murder of Mary Alice Finney under similar circumstances. Tried as an adult, he has served more time in prison than he has lived outside of it. Recently paroled, he discovers by chance that someone has stolen his identity and that it won't it won't take much to send him back to jail--a connection with the current serial murders is undeniable. Three men, all with very good reasons to track down the murderer before someone else can.
A very important part of Triptych is the timeline; the story isn't told strictly chronologically. It is crucial to pay special attention to the dates given at the beginning of chapters to avoid any confusion--sometimes it even seems like the flashbacks have flashbacks. But despite this, it actually works pretty well, showing both past and recent events until it all crashes together to form the current situation. Nothing really surprised me much plot-wise; I saw most of the connections and reveals coming, but I still found Triptych to be an addicting read. Some things are never explained fully, but this may have been deliberate. The reasons behind the serial murders and attacks are never given, making the killer all the more ominous and terrifying, if of a somewhat incongruous personality.
I think that I probably liked Triptych even more than I liked Undone. Part of the reason is that it focuses a bit more on Will and his background, who I still find to be a fantastic character, but I actually feel that it is a better book all around (which is not to say Undone was at all bad). However, if I had to name one person as the main character, it would be John Shelley, who makes a compelling yet ambiguous protagonist. This ambiguity spreads to the rest of the book and is what impressed me so much about Triptych. Slaughter's skill in handling her plot and characters is impressive--she doesn't really hide anything from her readers but at the same time leaves them wondering if what is going on is actually true. I think I'm officially addicted to Slaughter and will definitely be picking up the second Will Trent book, Fractured, very soon.