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The Silent Wife

Review

The Silent Wife

I reviewed Karin Slaughter’s 2018 stand-alone novel, PIECES OF HER, but prior to that, it had been a long time since I had read any of her series titles. I picked up her latest, THE SILENT WIFE, with a bit of hesitation. I’m not usually the type to jump into a long-standing mystery series mid-stream, and this is the 10th featuring Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Will Trent, a character I hadn’t even heard of.

As soon as I started reading, I realized two pieces of reassurance. First, I was reminded that Slaughter is a compelling storyteller who could draw in just about any suspense fan (provided they have a strong stomach). Second, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the narrative centering on Will Trent also offers glimpses into the personal history of Sara Linton, who has been in Slaughter’s novels since the very beginning. I was excited to get reacquainted with Sara and get to know her current love interest, Will, who, it turns out, is a fascinating character in his own right.

"I was pleased to reacquaint myself with these cast of characters, and I look forward to seeing where they go next."

As I mentioned, Slaughter wastes no time getting down to business. She opens with a tense chapter focusing on a college student named Beckey Caterino, who goes for a run after a dispute with her roommates --- and winds up being brutally attacked. Much more will be revealed about Beckey and her family in the ensuing pages, but after reading that opening vignette, her story will be in the back of readers’ minds right from the beginning.

The present-day narrative finds Will (and medical examiner Sara) investigating a brutal prison riot and the bloody murder of an inmate. They encounter an enigmatic inmate who claims that he was wrongfully imprisoned for Beckey’s attack --- and that the real perpetrator continues to rape and murder women using the same MO that was used on Beckey. What’s more, he blames Sara’s late husband (and Grant County police chief) Jeffrey Tolliver for botching the investigation into Beckey’s attack and the subsequent murder of another college student.

At this point, Slaughter skillfully introduces parallel narratives --- one in which Sara uses her medical expertise to determine that someone is still out there using the same techniques she had seen eight years earlier, and the other involving Sara, Jeffrey and Jeffrey’s hot-headed police colleague, Lena Adams, investigating what happened to Beckey back in Grant County.

Longtime fans will be interested in seeing this chapter play out in the on-again, off-again relationship between Sara and her now-deceased husband. As a reader picking up this new volume after taking some time away from Slaughter’s characters, I admit I was more than a little surprised to see all that had happened since I’d been away. Even newcomers --- those who are less reluctant than I am to dive into an ongoing series --- will come to appreciate these characters and want to learn more about them.

For better or for worse, Slaughter has made a career of documenting the brutality that is too often carried out on women, and of profiling characters like Sara and Will, who are dedicated to bringing the perpetrators of these horrible crimes to justice. I was pleased to reacquaint myself with these cast of characters, and I look forward to seeing where they go next.

Reviewed by Norah Piehl on August 7, 2020

The Silent Wife
by Karin Slaughter

  • Publication Date: August 4, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow
  • ISBN-10: 0062858106
  • ISBN-13: 9780062858108