Review of “Broken” by Karin Slaughter

In Karin Slaughter’s tenth novel, she combines the characters from her two ongoing detective series, who come together to help solve a series of murders in the small town of Heartsdale, in Grant County, Georgia.

Sara Linton, now a pediatrician in Atlanta but formerly the county medical examiner in Grant County, has come back home for Thanksgiving. Although called in to help on the killings, she wants to avoid Lena Adams, the police detective that Sara blames for the death of her husband four years earlier. Will Trent from Atlanta is also called into the case. Sara has met Will before, and there is an attraction between them that neither one wants to acknowledge, although it seems evident to everybody else.

Sara wants Will to investigate the apparent negligence of Lena in pursuing this case, but Will discovers that Lena’s boss, Acting Chief Frank Wallace, is even worse. He has problems with alcoholism and anger management, and is clearly covering up something about the murders.

Discussion: The mystery of the killings is solved at the end, but that never really seems to be the point of a Slaughter book. Rather, the process of criminal investigation provides a framework for Slaughter to explore the flawed, complex characters who work on the cases.

Sara is still coping with the loss of her husband Jeffrey. Will struggles through the world as a dyslexic, having survived a violent and emotionally impoverished childhood in a series of foster homes. Lena, a multiple victim of abuse, has internalized her experiences, and is, as Will observes, “angry, and self-destructive, and feeling trapped.” Frank thought he could have a stereotypical, television-quality nuclear family and fulfilling job; he has not been able to handle the shocking reality of what he got instead.

And yet… Sara is a strong woman whose compassion knows few bounds. Will has learned to compensate for his inability to read words with an exceptional ability to read people. Lena never gives up on love. And even Frank has a redeeming sentimentality and tenderness that soften his harsh edges.

Slaughter never portrays the human condition in black or white – her ability to create realistic, three-dimensional characters is what makes her work stand out from so many other authors in this genre.

At the end of the book, the characters remain broken, but they’ve moved on to a new day and a new resolve to cope in a world full of bashed dreams.

Evaluation: I love Slaughter’s characters. They are endearing, frustrating, offensive, surprising, scared, oh so human, and willing and eager, for the most part, to give and receive love.

Rating: 4/5

Published by Delacorte Press, 2010

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21 Responses to Review of “Broken” by Karin Slaughter

  1. Sandy says:

    Yes, yes, yes. I read Slaughter for the first time with her last novel, and even though I was plunked down in the middle of this series, I fell in love with all of these characters. I thought the crime itself was a little over-the-top but it was the personalities that made a difference.

  2. Julie P. says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever read a Slaughter book but you’ve sure tempted me! I might even have one of two (and perhaps this one) sitting around here.

  3. zibilee says:

    I think it’s pretty cool that Slaughter melded the characters from two series and put them both in one book. Glad you liked it so much!

    • Louise Murphy says:

      I had so much ‘want’ from this book as I have loved every other work. I felt this book hard to get into, then I rea;ised it’s purpose. Not for my enjoyment, but for Sara to get better. I like Will even more after this installment, and I am almost actively urging he and Sara to get together.

  4. Oh, my — I’ve yet to read a Slaughter book, and I’m kicking myself for not jumping one one sooner!!

  5. Nicole says:

    I had no idea that Karin Slaughter was a mystery/crime writer so into character. You have sold me on picking up one of her books.

  6. Barbara says:

    Doggone it! I saw that at the book sale and chose another Slaughter instead. Oh well, I’ll find it again, maybe at the library.

  7. bermudaonion says:

    I really want to try one of Slaughter’s books. The Atlanta setting of this one appeals to me.

  8. Amy says:

    I read my first Karin Slaughter book with her last one “Undone” which was great! I was excited when I saw your review for her newest book.. Of course, what I liked the most were the characters, they were great. I was very curious about what might happen with Will and Sarah and very interested to see Lena in action. Your review is terrific and has me anxious to get this book, sit back and dive in!

    At some point I should read some of her earlier books too!

    ~ Amy

  9. Broken was the first of Slaughter’s books that I read and I had to go back and re-read my review to be sure of what I had thought.

    I was right…I loved it! Flawed characters make for a great book and this bunch are certainly flawed.

  10. Jenners says:

    Hmmm…I always kind of wrote this author off. Now I will give her a try based on your review. I guess I need to start at the beginning, yes?

  11. This sounds like something I’d really enjoy. The characters sound fascinating. I do like a good mystery, but the characters, and their back story, also have to hold my interest. 🙂

  12. Margot says:

    You’ve sold me on this book. I love character-rich stories and especially when they have some flaws. Even though I haven’t read the previous books, it sounds as if I can still enjoy this one.

    I went to my library’s website to see if they have it. The book has 78 holds on it so I put my name in for the audiobook. Only 8 holds there.

    Thanks for the recommendation on this one. I’m looking forward to a good modern mystery. I need a break after all the Agathas and cozies.

  13. Staci says:

    You summed it up perfectly!! I love this author and really love her characters. Will is really growing on me 😀

  14. Bookjourney says:

    Sounds interesting! I have not read Karin Slaughter but I would like to.

  15. softdrink says:

    I quit Slaughter when she killed off the husband.

    She’s got the perfect name for what she does, though…she can write some incredibly graphic crime scenes!

  16. Alyce says:

    I haven’t read any of these books or heard of the author for that matter. I just had to ask though, is this the author’s real name? 🙂

  17. elizabeth herring says:

    I stumbled on to karin this past summer when i picked up “Undone”. I have since gone back to the beginning of the series and before the end of September will have read all her books. Outstanding writer, thoroughly enjoyed her books/characters.

  18. f. smith says:

    I’ve read all the Will Trent books and he is such a wonderful character. I wish Ms Slaughter can find a way to rid him of that equally tragic character, Angie, and find someone to make up for his tragic childhood. I know it is just a story but novels are part of the entertainment business. Don’t stop writing about Will.

  19. Tia says:

    *spolers*
    I hateeee this book. When I started to read it I immedietly fell in love with it, the story is perfect and the book was really good until the end. At the end the “bad cop” get away with everything and even though she is really not good at doing her job, she is still in the police, and oh btw she killed her boyfriends dad and she keeps on lying to him even though everyone around him is telling the truth. And 2 people who should have been together end up not to, he goes back to his wife who is humiliating him, cheating on him constantly (gave him a sifilis once!), and mocking him bcs he is dyslexic. I understend that this is not a love story , and that this is how it would everything end up in the real life probably, but I’m reading books bcs I want to get away from the real life..but no ,even in the books we have to see how bad peopel can get away with everything

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