Friday, 24 May 2013

Book Review: UNSEEN by Karin Slaughter

Unseen (Will Trent, #7)

Title: Unseen
Author: Karin Slaughter
Release Date: July 2, 2013
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Read: May 17-23, 2013

Synopsis (Goodreads):

Karin Slaughter’s New York Times bestselling novels are utterly riveting and masterfully drawn. Her latest thriller, Unseen, pits detectives, lovers, and enemies against one another in an unforgettable standoff between righteous courage and deepest evil.

Bill Black is a scary guy: a tall ex-con who rides to work on a Harley and trails an air of violence wherever he goes. In Macon, Georgia, Bill has caught the eye of a wiry little drug dealer and his cunning girlfriend. They think Bill might be a useful ally. They don’t know that Bill is actually a Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent named Will Trent. Or that he is fighting his own demons, undercover and cut off from the support of Sara Linton—the woman he loves, who cannot be told of the risk Will is taking.

Sara herself has come to Macon because of a cop shooting: Her stepson, Jared, has been gunned down in his own home. Sara holds Lena, Jared’s wife, responsible: Lena, a detective, has been a magnet for trouble all her life, and Jared’s death is not the first time someone Sara loved got caught in the crossfire. Furious, Sara finds herself involved in the same case that Will is working without even knowing it, and soon danger is swirling around both of them.

In a novel of fierce intensity, shifting allegiances, and shocking twists, two investigations collide with a conspiracy straddling both sides of the law. Karin Slaughter’s latest is both an electrifying thriller and a piercing study of human nature: what happens when good people face the unseen evils in their lives.

My thoughts:

Karin Slaughter’s latest novel, Unseen, is the 7th instalment in the Will Trent series and like its predecessors lives up to Slaughter’s usual prowess as one of the best crime novelists of our time.

Not one to pussyfoot around when it comes to violence, Slaughter opens her new novel with the very graphic and brutal attack of Jared Long and his wife, police officer Lena Adams (from the Grant County series), in their home. Whilst Lena manages to fight off the intruders with a hammer, Jared’s life is hanging in the balance after being shot several times and losing a large amount of blood.

Sara Linton (also from the Grant County series), who has always blamed Lena for the death of her late husband Jeffrey Tolliver, is certain that Lena is also responsible for this latest tragedy. Offering support to Jared’s mother Nell, whose resentment of Lena is further fuelled by the attack, Sara is unaware that her lover and GBI special agent Will Trent has been indirectly involved in the incident. Working undercover as ex-con bikie Bill Black in a mission to uncover the identity of a sadistical criminal mastermind known as “Big Whitey”, Will was employed as lookout for the men carrying out the home invasion and was on the scene shortly after Lena and Jared were attacked.

In several flashbacks to a raid led by Lena on a local drug cartel a week ago, the connection between Lena’s investigation, Will’s mission and the attack on Lena and her husband slowly become apparent. As Will’s alter ego Bill Black becomes further enmeshed with the people he is sure are directly connected to the mysterious Big Whitey, his own life is in danger – can he help unmask the gangster before it is too late?

Like Slaughter’s previous novels, Unseen is an action packed, fast-paced and suspenseful thriller which kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. With each character having their own agenda, and several unexpected and clever twists in the investigation, the final showdown is as unpredictable as it is thrilling.

Unseen is not for the faint hearted – featuring senseless violence, sadism, child abuse and torture, Slaughter explores the darkest and most depraved places of the human mind. However, in my opinion, Slaughter doesn't overdo the violence for the sake of it, staying within the boundaries of what separates a good crime novel from one which leaves a sickening dirty feeling behind after reading it. Her observations of human behaviour and emotions are spot-on, making her characters almost flesh-and-blood people with personal pasts and demons – which can be a scary thing when it comes to the more sinister figures featuring in this novel.

With Unseen, Slaughter further merges her Grant County with the Will Trent series, letting the characters of each come together in a spine-chilling police investigation. After exposing Will Trent’s deepest secrets and personal demons in “Criminal”, Slaughter continues to develop this character and allow the reader to look into his psyche, understand the painful scars from his past and his need for love. This makes Will Trent a character I want to hear a lot more of in future – I can even find a small spark of liking for his new lover Sara Linton, who I admit I found to be rather whiney and spoilt in the previous books I had read.

If I had one criticism it would be that it is hard to read this book as a stand-alone novel. Whilst I have read most books in the Will Trent series, I was missing some vital information regarding Lena Adam’s past, which the beginning of Unseen heavily relies on. Looking at the list of previous books in the Grant County series, I would therefore recommend at least picking up “Beyond Reach” (or “Skin Privilege”) before rushing out to read this one. Since Unseen will not be released until July, there is plenty of time, so start now to be ready for this amazing thriller when it hits the bookstores!

Meanwhile, I am anxiously awaiting the next Will Trent novel!

A big thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with a preview copy of this wonderful novel in exchange for an honest review.

1 comment:

  1. I've read a few by Karin Slaughter but they are a little too graphic for me I have found. Great review though.

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out