Oh my goodness, this book is not for the faint of heart. If you want a thriller that will catapult you out of your comfort zone, then this is it. The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter is a dark thriller set in small town America. You might be used to thrillers relying on their plot to keep you engaged and the Good Daughter has a plot that twists and turns and is full of suspense. However, it has so much more too. It is the book's characters and their relationships with each other that makes The Good Daughter stand apart from your typical thriller.
A word of warning to start with. If you are squemish, this may not be the book for you. The Good Daughter has as shocking and horrifying an opening to a book as you will read. Not becuase it deals with a unique crime but rather in the way the author describes the crime in exacting detail without sparing the reader the gore and violence. We have become accustomed to violence being served to us in a sanitised way or alluded to rather than being described in such forensic detail. The result is shocking for the reader and generates our sympathy for the victims.
The Good Daughter tells the story of the Quinn family from Pikeville, Georgia. Rusty Quinn is the local defence attorney well known for taking on the cases of individuals accused of dispicable crimes. Gamma Quinn is his wife. A reserach scientist, she gave up her career to move to Pikeville and raise their two daughters Charlotte and Samantha.
The opening scene of the novel is set in 1989 in the Quinn family home. Gamma, Samantha and Charlotte are at home and Rusty is at work when their home is invaded by two local men. Gamma is shot while Samantha and Charlotte are led into the woods and terrorised. By a miracle, Samantha and Charlotte survive their ordeal but the events of that day drive them apart and they end up living very different lives.
From the opening scenes, the novel jumps ahaed 28 years to the present day and to another violent crime, a school shooting in Pikeville. Charlotte, now a lawyer and still living in Pikesville is at the school that morning by chance and witnesses the immediate aftermath of the shooting. A teenage girl is accused of the shoting and Rusty tkes her case. As the evidence is examined, Rusty and Charolotte realise that there is more to this shooting than originally thought. Before the accused's arraignment, Rusty is stabbed. This brings Samantha, also a lawyer but living in New York having become estaranged from her family back to Pikeville to see him. She ends up taking his place at the arraignment for the young girl accused of the school shooting. What follows is a story of two sisters reuniting as old wounds are reopened
There is much that stands out about this book? The first thing that comes to mind is the characters and their relationships. Each one is described meticulously. With so many thrillers the characters are formulaic and an after thought with the entire book depending on the plot. Not the case here and it makes for a much more rounded and engaging book. The second note worthy thing about this book is how it deals with violent crimes. The author doesn't shy away from describing violence in shocking detail. While this books is not for the squemish, in a world where so often violence is alluded to rather than dealt with directly, we risk becoming desentisied to it. There is no fear of that happening with The Good Daughter. There is no sugar coating the awful crimes commited and I caught myself holding my breath several times as I read those chapters. This isn't a mindless summer read if that's what you are after. However, if you are a fan of suspense and thrillers with a dark side this will keep you gripped. This is the first Karin Slaughter book I've read and I've already bought my second. I'm hooked! PS: The Good Daughter is over 500 pages long, but don't let that put you off. I'm not sure I've speed through a book as quickly as I did it.
Describe this book in three words: Gripping, Dark, Compelling