Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Skin Privilege - Karin Slaughter

In a stifling jail cell in a hardscrabble Georgia town, Detective Lena Adams sits in stubborn silence: bruised, angry, and the only suspect in a horrific murder that left a woman incinerated beyond recognition. A hundred miles away, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver has gotten the call that his young detective has been arrested. Jeffrey's wife, pediatrician and medical examiner Sara Linton, has little patience for Lena or her dramas. Fighting a heartbreaking malpractice suit, struggling to pick up the pieces of a shattered career, the last thing Sara needs is to see Jeffrey playing Lena's knight in shining armor. Sara cannot
guess that within days she herself will be at the center of a bizarre and murderous case.For Lena has fled back to the place where she grew up hard, careening back through the shadows of her past and into a shocking underground world of bigotry and rage. The man who raised her is slowly killing himself with drugs. The man who beguiled - and beat - her is reaching out from prison. And now only Jeffrey and Sara can free Lena from the web of lies, betrayal, and brutality that has trapped her - as this powerhouse of a novel races toward its shattering climax…and a final, unforgettable twist.

I was aware before starting this book how much it angered some fans. I tried not to read any spoilers so I could judge for myself but I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen.

I must say that for me this book is right up there among the best books I’ve read this year. Slaughter has managed to write a truly horrifying story, with a very fast-paced action that focuses on Jeffrey, Sara, Lena and Lena’s past. I couldn’t put it down as I really wanted to know what was going on.

The story opens with Lena going back to the hometown where she grew up with her sister Sybil and finding herself unable to locate her uncle. Next thing we know Jeffrey receives a phone call that Lena has been arrested, a young woman has been burned beyond recognition and Lena is the only suspect. Jeffrey and Sara travel to Reece to help her but Lena quickly disappears leaving them with a very mad sheriff and soon another body is found.

Many things are not what they seem. Especially Lena’s life and family and I must say I did like Lena a lot more in this story than I did in past books, if for nothing else her attempts at protecting Jeffrey. Slaughter brings several surprising twists into the story, an interesting way of telling it by following two different time lines for a while, and we are kept guessing till the end. I also found it an improvement in what concerns Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship. I was finding the whole scenario of the past books a bit boring, it seemed to me they were stuck in a situation and there was no evolution.

Interestingly enough I think the story could have ended without the extra chapter. That she wrote it seems to me that she felt there was a definite need to either close the series or take the characters in a different direction. Her letter about it on her website is not available any more so I really do not know how she explained it but I can see that there was a limit to the amount of murder and gore that can be found on a small town and there was a limit to where she could take Sara and Jeffrey. Besides why do we always assume that threats made by villains are hollow?

I am sadly reminded of other series where the growing number of books has meant a lowering of interesting plots and interesting characters. If Slaughter felt this was the right step into continuing while maintaining the same quality level as the first books I will be interested in following her into future books.

Grade: 5/5


  1. You are the first good review of this latest installment of Slaughter's series. I finally was able to get the whole series but had been hesitant to start because of the 'terrible' ending of this one, but you have put things into a different perspective. Thanks!

  2. I'll be looking forward to your opinion when you read them Sandy! :-)


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