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Thursday, August 10, 2017

#CJSReads REVIEW: The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter @wmmorrowbooks @slaughterkarin

The Good Daughter
by Karin Slaughter
William Morrow 

If you love thrillers, then you KNOW Karin Slaughter.  Her writing style, ability to pull you straight into the setting she creates and the characters who live there is unprecedented.  This book is one I would consider her BEST - keep on reading below for reviews, a Q&A with the author and her thoughts on this book and how it all came about.

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The stunning new novel from the international #1 bestselling author — a searing, spellbinding blend of cold-case thriller and psychological suspense.

Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn's happy small-town family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father — Pikeville's notorious defense attorney — devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father's footsteps to become a lawyer herself — the ideal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again — and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatized — Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it's a case that unleashes the terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime that destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won't stay buried forever…

Packed with twists and turns, brimming with emotion and heart, The Good Daughter is fiction at its most thrilling.

My Review:


I'm not going to bother with any small synopsis here like I usually do with my reviews.  I'm just going to get right into the nitty gritty.  Karin Slaughter SLAYS.  Total woman crushing on her.  I started my love affair with her writing after reading Pretty Girls.  Now, I can't get enough of her and The Good Daughter just reinforces how I feel.  

I haven't had this much invoking of emotions while reading a book in a long time.  I laughed, I cringed and I ugly cried (my poor co-workers - "What's wrong?" they ask.... Me: "OMG THIS BOOK, I CAN'T...."  Weird look as they slowly back away from this crazy woman I have become). I was fully invested in EVERY character.  So much so that I didn't even bother trying to figure out any twists like I usually do when I'm reading a thriller.  Slaughter's ability to draw you in so completely is a testament to how wonderfully she builds her worlds and the characters that live in them.  I love that she went back to a small town, which I think is where some of her best writing occurs.  For me, this thriller isn't about the horrid acts that were committed, or who did what and when, but more about the complex characters involved and how they deal with their emotions.  Cutting away to the past little by little to give you a bigger picture, slowly unwrapping this gifted box where all your feeling live.  I'm spent.  I feel like I just got off a roller coaster of emotions and am dizzy with words.  

To sum up, READ THIS BOOK.  A thriller with fascinating characterization, an interweaving plot that keeps you guessing and gasping, a setting in a small town that most of us are familiar with and emotional reactions that you can feel tugging at your heart strings and tear ducts.  What more could you ask for?  If you haven't read anything by this author, then you really need to get out and get Slaughtered.  You can thank me later.  This book is Slaughter at her best, in my opinion.

Jessica's Thoughts:

This was my first Karin Slaughter novel - I know, as a fan of the thriller genre I'm ashamed that it's taken me so long. I was not disappointed! THE GOOD DAUGHTER is her newest standalone novel and I can't wait to read more from her. At just over 500 pages, this mystery/thriller is a surprisingly fast read!

This begins in 1989 - two armed men break into the home of Samantha and Charlotte "Charlie" Quinn. They force the two girls out into the woods and leave their mother dead. They believe the attack was because of their father, Rusty Quinn's job as a defense attorney. He would defend those that no one deemed as deserving and some of the worst criminals. This attack left the family broken.

Fast forward 28 years and Charlie has now followed in father's footsteps and has become a lawyer. She stays in their small home town to work instead of moving off to the big cities. Things take a turn when Charlie finds herself as a witness to a school shooting. The case seems pretty open and shut - they found Kelly, a teenager with some mental disabilities, with the gun in front of two of the dead victims. However, when Sam returns to Pikeville, they both find themselves caught up in this case. It begins to bring back deep buried memories from that night 28 years ago when their family was attacked.

First of all, this book was so good! I'm so mad I haven't picked up a Karin Slaughter novel yet! It was full of twists and turns - definitely not a predictable thriller. This was a very character driven novel but that did not take away from the plot or suspense. Slaughter does an incredible job creating these characters and getting the reader caught up in them. The trauma that Charlie and Sam endure as children and how it later affects them in adulthood. As well as how this had changed their relationship as a family - Rusty included. As a warning, there are some topics that not all readers will want to experience. Some very gory and violent scenes as well as rape - so just as a fair warning for potential readers.

I think that all of the storylines - the events on the night of the break in, the school shooting case, and the relationship between the sisters are all equally intriguing. The complexity of each story and the details that go into them amazed me. Sometimes in books with multiple storylines happening, one can get lost in the shuffle, but Slaughter did a great job keeping them all in focus.

If you love Karin Slaughter, then this is a no-brainer, but if you want a character driven, complex, and suspenseful read then look no further! You need to grab a copy of THE GOOD DAUGHTER. Now, I'm off to grab more of her books!

I give this 5/5 stars!

Sam's Thoughts:

Everyone needs to stay calm regarding the piece of information
I am about to reveal. 
I have never read a Karin Slaughter book before.
 I KNOW! I know. 
Usually when I reveal such news, the first thing people say to me is “WHAT!!??  Karin Slaughter is EVERYTHING!”
Now that I have read my first Karin Slaughter book, her newest standalone called The Good Daughter, I would say I undeniably agree.

The novel opens with the introduction of two sisters, Charlotte (Charlie) and Samantha (Sam- solid name) whose family is torn apart by a horrific act of violence.  One girl was left behind, one girl ran away to safety and nothing was the same.  Twenty-eight years later, Charlie is a lawyer and witnesses another act of violence that opens old floodgates and makes her past traumas emerge.  Now that she is a witness, she must confront everything she has worked hard to forget and watch as the truth about the crime that changed the course of her family bubbles to the surface.

This will be a completely spoiler free review, which is very hard for me, especially since I want to scream about this one from the rooftops.  But, I will keep my scream to a whisper and try my best to remain vague.  My apologies in advance if I sound jumbled or unclear, once you have read this on, you will understand!

One of the first things I need to note is the quality of Slaughter’s writing.  Her prose is clean and finely detailed.  I have never read a work by an author that can be both raw in language and impeccable in execution and both graphically gory and tastefully written. Her characters were multi-layered, diverse, complex and completely realistic.  Truly, I have never read a piece of crime fiction that felt so real.   Going back and forth through time, the reader watches the story unfold in the present and then gets to piece together the events that transpired twenty-eight years prior. 

The pacing of this one was fantastic; after a slew of busy weekends, I sat down to finally give this one my full attention and finished all 500 pages easily within the course of two sittings.   I was completely entertained.    

The plot itself felt like it was divided into sections, which I loved.   Not only sections within the time periods, but also sections within the character events and, it seemed, specific turning points in character dynamics. As the plot progressed, I felt more and more connected to these characters and as their stories thickened, I felt completely entranced, experiencing the story with them.   Now, for a story to make you feel THAT?  That is some seriously amazing writing.

This is absolutely a 5 star read for me and I will be running to pick up Slaughter’s other works.  From what I hear, I should be starting with Pretty Girls and then working my way to the Grant County series.  

Big thank you to William Morrow for these copies in return for our honest opinions.


Karin Slaughter is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed storytellers.  Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her seventeen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and instant New York Times bestselling novel Pretty Girls.  Slaughter's titles have been on global bestseller lists for over 2,500 weeks (over 48 years cumulatively, which is longer than she's been alive).  A native of Georgia, Karin currently lives in Atlanta.  Her Will Trent series, Grant County series, and standalone novel Cop Town are all in development for film and television.

What was your inspiration for The Good Daughter?

The point of writing a lot of books is to do something different each time, so when I thought of Charlie and Sam, it was almost in opposition to Claire and Lydia (Preto) Girls). I wanted Charlie to be a character I haven't written about before. She's highly competent, well-liked, and she makes mistakes, sometimes really stupid mistakes, but instead of trying to weasel around them, she owns them. Actually, she almost wears them as a badge of honor. That's an interesting way to control the bad things that happen, but I don't think it's necessarily the best way. Sam, on the other hand, lives every single moment of her life in stark relief to the "what could have been." She works very hard to define herself as having moved on, but everything she does is in opposition to that goal. Both sisters try to control things in their own way, and both fail in their own way, which is always fascinating to me. You know people by how they respond to adversity.
Have you found the writing process different when writing a standalone compared to a series book?

Standalone and series novels each have their own challenges; it seems like it would be easier to write a Will Trent book because I've known him and I've written about Sarah from the very beginning. But the challenge is to say new things about them that aren't surprising, like suddenly Will went to space and you never knew that. I have to figure out ways to make them interesting to people and I find them very interesting. I find the relationship interesting and the way they interact with each other; I like that. But when I'm doing a standalone the big challenge is, when I did it in Coptown, and then in Pretty Girls, and now in The Good Daughter, I go back and read it from the beginning and say O.K. is the Charlie you see at the end of this novel believable as a Charlie in the beginning? Whatever they go through has to make sense for their personality. I don't want someone who is very timid to be kicking butt at the end; I want her journey, for lack of a better word, to make sense. That's sometimes more challenging in a novel because as you're writing this character you are getting to know them as well.
How would you describe your writing style to a first-time reader?

My writing style is unexpected because I think a lot of people have these preconceptions about what a thriller is like or what a mystery is like. There's short chapters and there's a car chase on every page. If you think about Gillian Flynn or Michael Connelly, we're really writing about people and ordinary people who have very bad things happen. To me, that's the interesting story and it's a universal story. You think about one of the greatest stories ever told is about a young community organizer who ticks off a lot of politicians and the next thing you know he's crucified; I mean that's Jesus Christ. There's always some kind of crime element, there's some kind of story in everything that perseveres in our society. Crime and punishment, there's so much crime they put it in the title; Dickens, I mean there are all kinds of horrible people; even The Great Gatsby, there's a murder at the center. I think that I'm in good company when I'm writing crime novels and I would say to people, explore more; don't have this opinion of yourself that you only read a certain type of book. Look at what is happening in crime fiction; it's very current, it's very of-the-moment, so there's a lot to be had from reading it.
Tell us more about the Save the Libraries Foundation. What is it, what has it accomplished? How are you involved?
Save the Libraries Foundation was started in '08 when the economy went to the toilet. I am someone who has always toured libraries and I noticed that some of my favorite librarians were no longer there. They'd been asked to retire or their hours had been cut back. I noticed just in my own community that the hours were cut at the local branch and we had a lot of kids on the street that would normally be in the library. And, I thought, this is something I feel very strongly about because as a child the library was my haven. I will say part of that is because it was the only air conditioned building in town, but they had a lot of books too. I just thought, we have to do something about this; I talked to a bunch of friends of mine who are authors and we all feel this way. You can talk to Lee Child, Mike Connelly, Neil Gaiman, Laura Lippman, just a cast of any authors and they'll tell you the libraries were probably the most important thing they had when they were growing up. We all decided, well, we need to give back. I did a fundraiser in my library system in Dekalb county and we had Kathryn Stockett and Mary Kay Andrews come in. We did a fundraiser there and I donated a story and the proceeds raised money for the cause. We did block grants to libraries around the country, actually around the world, becuase we did some in Europe and some in England. We said if you have a need, here's some money, you know what you need, buy what you need and so far we have given away $300,000.


I really enjoyed writing from the point of view of non-investigators in Pretty Girls, because it was a challenge to figure out how to put Claire and Lydia in the middle of the action in a believable way, and have them make choices that a normal person would make (as opposed to choices that would just easily further the plot but don't make a lot of sense for a real human being who is afraid for their life). So, I decided to write about a family of lawyers (I know, how did I not just kill them all on the first page). At first I was a little hesitant about writing another sister story, because I didn't want to be the "sister story woman" (which sounds like the title of a great Amish TV show) but I am the youngest of three sisters, so I know what sisters are like, and also, I write about murder in every book and no one thinks of me as the murder woman (though I understand having a last name like "Slaughter" does beg the question).

I wanted to go back to writing about a small town, as I haven't really done that since Grant County. I grew up in a small town, and I do most of my writing in a beautiful, small mountain town (Pikeville is not you, Blue Ridge!) so I know what it's like so be in a place where everyone knows you--or thinks they know you, and how that can at times be rewarding and at other times be incredibly stifling.

A lot of times my stories tend to reflect what I'm not seeing in other books that I read, or what I really like in books that I've read (I'm thinking of you, Liane Moriarty), so one of the other goals in this book was to write about a woman who really, really loves her husband. I am so proud of the way that Will and Sara's relationship has evolved, and I love the respect that they have for each other, because I think more than anything, that's what women crave in a partner: someone who respects their opinion, who they are, what they feel. You could go all the way back to "The Knight's Tale" in The Canterbury Tales to understand this long-standing desire. So, I took the opportunity to write about a woman who adores her husband, but can't quite stop screwing things up. And why she keeps screwing up goes to the heart of one of the many mysteries in this story.
I was very eager to write about Rusty Quinn. A few years ago when Go Set a Watchman came out, I was at dinner with a bunch of authors (for Thrillerfest in NYC) and the New York Times had just released an excerpt where it was revealed that Atticus Finch was not the saint that many of us were led to believe. I wanted to write about a complicated man, not the saint that Scout worships in To Kill a Mockingbird, and not the casual racist she sees in Watchman. Rusty is a good man, but he has his flaws, chief among them the belief that he always does what is right. Now, as with a lot of people, what "right" means tends to be whatever he feels justified in doing. The question of whether or not he is a good man, or a good flawed man, is another one I mull over in the book.

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