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Cop Town – Karin Slaughter Review

Cop Town – Karin Slaughter Review

cop-town-coverReleased: July 2014

Cop Town is the first thriller I’ve read in some while and also happens to be Karin Slaughter’s first stand-alone novel. The last thriller I read was by Linwood Barclay and, not being familiar with Slaughter’s other books, I was drawn to the fact that it was a crime novel written by a woman, was set in the seventies, and the two main characters were female cops.

Cop Town, as the title suggests, is a story about cops and is set in Atlanta, USA in 1974. During this period Atlanta was one of the most violent cities in America. The book focusses on the odious killing of a police officer, which sets in motion an uncompromising manhunt for a killer dubbed ‘The Shooter’, which rocks the very foundations of all the officers involved.

Two female police officers find themselves thrown together to help solve this crime. Maggie Lawson is a young patrol officer who comes from a family of cops who deeply resent her joining the force. This was an era when women weren’t expected to have careers. Under deepening opposition from her controlling uncle and popular ‘hero worshipped’ brother – who are both officers in the same outfit – she continually strives to prove her worth and has to fight her corner. Her soon-to-be partner is Kate Murphy, a sparky, clever new recruit who we meet on the first day of her job. Kate is from a privileged background but has her own demons to fight, which played a major part in propelling her into joining the force. In the male-dominated Atlanta Police Department there is no leeway for the new girl on the block who speaks over-politely and also happens to be far too attractive. Both women are from divergent backgrounds, but as they become more deeply embroiled in the hunt for the city’s cop killer, they learn to tolerate their differences and respect each other’s individual pain, fury and pride, and in time they discover they both have secrets.

Kate and Maggie not only have to battle the bigoted attitudes of the male officers, but find themselves swimming against the tide when events eventually take a complicated twist and they have to trust in each other, follow their instincts and act alone.

I really got a feel for the era it was set in; from the harshness of the environment that was the backdrop for the Atlanta Police Force, right down to the level of hypocrisy, inequality, racism and intolerance of change that was rife in a decade which was to see so many major shifts in society.

The characters are all tough and gritty, and I found the fast paced plot compelling. I particularly enjoyed Slaughter’s leading ladies, who she gradually and sensitively exposed with compassion, perception and real depth, a refreshing change to the many male written crime novels who write female scenes with a distinctly male perspective.

Cop Town is a gripping read full of unexpected twists and turns. I look forward to more of this talented author’s work.


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