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by Karin Slaughter
William Morrow, August 2019
464 pages
ISBN: 0062858084

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Karin Slaughter's latest Will Trent Mystery, THE LAST WIDOW, is a thought-provoking trek through a world of evil. White nationalists are plotting to destroy society and detective Will Trent, an investigator with the GBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, must stop them if he can. The unknown mayhem they are plotting is not the real reason Trent wants to find them, however. A white nationalist group that no one knows about has abducted the woman he loves, Dr. Sara Linton, and he needs to get her out of their clutches before they do horrible things to her. These people have also kidnapped a CDC scientist named Michelle Spivey, perhaps for her expertise as they create whatever weapon of mass destruction they are planning to make and use.

A quiet afternoon at Sara's family home is disrupted by the sounds of explosions and then emergency sirens. Will Trent and Sara Linton begin to race toward the scene but then are inadvertently pulled into the ongoing situation when they stop to give aid at what they assume is a normal traffic accident. What they do not realize, until it is too late, is that the people involved are the perpetrators of the bombings, fleeing the scene with multiple gunshot wounds that they need Sara to attend to. Trent is beaten up and Sara is taken.

Little by little, the GBI and the FBI put together the names and faces of the people involved. There are the expected clashes about jurisdiction between the two organizations, but the situation is more complex than that, as the FBI may be holding back information that would help the GBI because of possible informants. Slaughter uses a fascinating technique to make the reader put clues together. She has the same scene, taking place at the same time, but showing what different characters are doing and tracking down and learning. What one investigator discovers is not known to another, but it is to the reader.

The men who are plotting this military-style operation are misogynists, rapists, and pedophiles. Slaughter is an expert on creating these sorts of psychopaths and long-time followers of her writing will not be disappointed in their expectations of meeting really bad guys. She also creates fully believable, sympathetic good characters whose fates we care about and with whom we suffer when they do.

Slaughter is a superb writer of back story for her characters. Learning about Trent's disabilities, his dyslexia and his inability to relate easily to others in social situations, helps us understand why he behaves as he does. And Sara Linton's back story is just as crucial in helping us understand her own issues with relationships.

This is a thriller that works on many levels. Much information is conveyed about the sorts of people who want to destroy society. And this is not some time in the future or the past. These events are happening in the present, August 2019, as each chapter opens with the date and time. For those readers who have been following Will Trent and Sara Linton as they negotiate their relationship, this book will be satisfying as it also focuses on how that relationship has grown and changed. Could this be Slaughter's best book yet?

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, August 2019

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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