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by Karin Slaughter
Delacorte, July 2013
400 pages
ISBN: 0345539478

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Lena Adams is a tough woman, a cop, and someone, it seems, who has inspired the hatred of many of the characters in UNSEEN. She's viewed as a loose cannon , so when her husband, Jared, also a policeman, is shot by home intruders whom Lena then neutralizes in the very dramatic opening of the book, the implication is that the attack is her fault. Picking this book up without having read the previous ones in the series, I found this distrust and dislike of Lena to be unsettling. Nonetheless, it serves as a foil against which Lena's hidden emotional life plays out.

In addition to this book being filled with highly tense and violent action, Slaughter develops strong characters who struggle with the evil they find in their various roles in law enforcement. Nearly everyone in the book is either a cop in some form or another, or a villain…and some are both. The main characters in the series, Sara Linton (coroner and pediatrician) and Will Trent (Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent), are developing a relationship at the same time that they work together. The dance that this involves provides contrast with the relationship between Lena and Jared, and brings emotional depth to the novel.

In UNSEEN, Lena leads a team of policemen into a drug den in an attempt to finally arrest a dealer who has been victimizing children in the area. While she is obsessed with catching Sid Waller, another detective, Denise Branson, is obsessed with finding the mysterious "Big Whitey," to whom she believes Sid Waller reports and who seems to be orchestrating the drug trade throughout the South. Will is working undercover in Waller's organization and must walk a fine line between his role as thug, Bill Black, and his real life as a GBI agent. When Lena's raid is over and Denise joins her in the drug house, what they find involves Sara and sets the plot of the book in motion as well as providing the context for the emotional development of the characters.

Slaughter's writing brings both the scenes and the characters to life. The violence of many of the scenes made this a type of book that I am not normally drawn to, while the depth of character development made it just my kind of book. I am thankful for the latter as it kept me reading through the former. I entered a very violent world while I read this book, and Slaughter helped me see the kind of people that inhabit that world and how that existence both strengthens and damages them.

Having discovered Slaughter, I am glad to see that there are four previous books in this series, as well as several in separate Sara Linton and Will Trent series.

§ Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, August 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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