In 1974, a brutal murder rocks the city of Atlanta and sends the police department on a city-wide manhunt. Due a series of events, officers Maggie Lawson and Kate Murphy become partners. Maggie follows in a family tradition of joining the police force, though she has yet to prove herself in the eyes of her cop uncle and brother. Kate is determined to become a police officer in spite of her privileged background, but she couldn’t have chosen a worse day to start her new job. The trail for a cop killer takes them into the most dangerous parts of town, and they’ll have to risk everything in order to stop the killer from striking again.
The amount of research that went into this book was pretty impressive, and so was the author’s ability to integrate it into the story. I didn’t feel like I was reading a text book about social issues during the 1970’s. Those things felt natural to the setting and the story.
I especially liked a scene where some of the senior police officers sat around discussing their experiences in World War II. It seemed strange because I’d never given thought to a group of WWII sitting around and talking about their experiences, and yet it came off as normal. I pictured a group of gray-haired men sitting in lawn chairs, drinking beer, and trying to one-up each other with war stories. That scene made the characters come alive.
The female characters in this book were the most complex women I’ve seen in fiction in a long time. Neither Maggie nor Kate had romantic relationships during the course of the story, and they both had their own reasons for pursuing the murderer. Kate is driven by creating a life without her husband who was killed in the Vietnam War. Maggie’s motivation is more personal as the murderer nearly killed her brother. Their doubts, certainties, and secrets make them such three-dimensional characters.
I struggled not to judge characters from the 1970’s by my 21st century mindset. I had a hard time not feeling frustrated when Maggie was bullied by her brother and her uncle. I also struggled with the harassment the female police officers faced at the police station. It made me realize how different the world was only forty years ago.
I’d recommend this book to anyone looking for a mystery novel featuring strong, female leads.
Cop Town by Karin Slaughter was published in hardcover and as an eBook by Bantam Dell.
**I received an advanced copy of this book in return for an unbiased review.