False Witness

by Karin Slaughter

Thriller and Suspense Crime and Mystery Star Books Audiobooks of the Month

LoveReading Expert Review of False Witness

A stunning yet dark and devastating standalone thriller, we already love Karin Slaughter and think this is her best yet!

A hard-hitting, devastating, wow of a read, Karin Slaughter has hit this standalone thriller out of the park! The past hunts down Defence Attorney Leigh Collier as she takes on a high profile rape case, and it threatens to destroy her. I am still squirming with reading euphoria having finished this novel. It’s no secret that I love Karin Slaughter’s writing and regularly shout about her books, for me, this is her best novel to date. It most definitely isn’t an easy or comfortable read, it travels into the very darkest of places, including violent sexual assault and drug addiction. This is one of the first novels I’ve read that covers Covid 19, it sat in the background, there, but not overtaking the storyline. From the beginning, when the shadows sucked me down into their spiralling depths and understanding hit, I knew this would be a one-sitting read. I didn’t want to put this book down, even when flinching from the pain that transmits from the page. While it packs an overwhelming punch, it also contains Karin’s unmistakable magic touch. She knows exactly when a lighter moment is needed, when a smirk or blurt of laughter will aid the reader. Yes it made me wince, it also made me consider what makes us who we are. False Witness is powerful and provocative, it explores social issues and violence, and is all the more fabulous for doing that. A LoveReading Star Book, this is a novel that’s going to stay with me for some time.

Karin Slaughter is our Early Summer 2021 Guest Editor. Click here to learn more.

Liz Robinson

False Witness Synopsis

An ordinary life...

Leigh Collier has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She has a good job as a defence attorney, a daughter doing well in school, and even her divorce is relatively civilised - her life is just as unremarkable as she'd always hoped it would be.

Hides a devastating past...

But Leigh's ordinary life masks a childhood which was far from average ... a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and finally torn apart by a devastating act of violence.

But now the past is catching up...

Then a case lands on her desk - defending a wealthy man accused of rape. It's the highest profile case she's ever been given - a case which could transform her career, if she wins. But when she meets the accused, she realises that it's no coincidence that he's chosen her as his attorney. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he knows what happened twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades running.

And time is running out.

If she can't get him acquitted, she'll lose much more than the case. The only person who can help her is her younger, estranged sister Callie, the last person Leigh would ever want to ask for help. But suddenly she has no choice ...

About This Edition

ISBN: 9780008303501
Publication date: 24th June 2021
Author: Karin Slaughter
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Ltd an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Format: Hardback
Primary Genre Thriller and Suspense
Other Genres:
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Closing date: 10/07/2022

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False Witness Reader Reviews

In addition to our Lovereading expert opinion some of our Reader Review Panel were also lucky enough to read and review this title.

A dark and twisting page turner.

In the very first chapter of this book, there's a twist, and it's a big one, the kind that makes you stop and re-read the pages again so you can understand what you missed. It's a rare thing to be surprised by a book so early on, but I was and I continued to be surprised all the way through.

It's hard to say you enjoyed a book when the subject matter is so horrible and I'd be lying if I didn't say that it is an uncomfortable read in parts but it's a very intricate and cleverly plotted story and one in which, were it a TV show, would have you shouting at the characters as if they could hear you.

I really loved the main characters, in spite of (or perhaps because of) their flaws and I will end by saying I have never wanted a villain to get their comeuppance so badly!

Nikki Whitmore

A gripping psychological thriller.

This book by Karin Slaughter is a real page-turner. The brilliantly written opening sequence grabs the reader’s attention from the start. The interplay of legal drama and psychological thriller worked really well. The story contains some violence but is a great tale of retribution and redemption and definitely worth reading.


Uncompromising, gritty and hugely contemporary stand-alone thriller with a social conscience.

False Witness focuses on the story of two sisters from a troubled background in Georgia and the divergent paths their lives follow after a harrowing incident. A searing prologue opens the novel in the most hard-hitting manner in 1998 with fourteen-year-old babysitter Callie. Whilst neither sister has ever recovered from that night, Leigh went on to study law and has attempted to bury her demons. Whilst both women are leading very different lives and semi-estranged, Defence Attorney Leigh’s latest client is about the unite them.

Accused of brutally raping a woman and quickly revealing himself to be a manipulative psychopath, Andrew Tennant, seems to know far more than Leigh could ever have imagined about that pivotal night. Tennant charges Leigh with ensuring he is found innocent in a courtroom or else opening herself and Callie up to mutually assured destruction and seems to hold all the power. Leigh excels at compartmentalising and from the moment she learns the identity of her client her concern is protecting those she loves.

Slaughter never shies away from depicting reality and when the denouement comes it is shocking, messy and credible. A powerful social commentary runs throughout the novel, touching on everything from sexual abuse and the everyday harassment that comes with being a young woman, to toxic male violence and it packs a mighty punch.

Rachel Hall

Dark, graphic and very powerful: one of the best books I have ever read.

This is such a powerful read. It's very, very dark and in places, graphic. The plot is full of twists and turns and as the story neared its climax, I had to keep reading until I finished the book. Not only is the plot superbly crafted, but it is extremely well-written and the characters become part of your life as you read. This is definitely one of the best books I have ever read.

Pauline Braisher

Absolutely brilliant! I could not put it down.

Absolutely brilliant. The twists and turns that the story takes you do not see but take you deeper into the world of Callie & Leigh. There is heartbreak of a difficult childhood that shapes their future until they come back together to face their worst nightmare. Can they overcome the challenge they thought they would never face, even though it has lived dormant with them since that fateful day? And how different will life be afterwards? A highly recommended read

Cathy Small

The kind of book that sinks its claws into you and won’t let go. Just buy it.

What if you had a secret, a big bad punch in the stomach kind of secret? What if you were a lawyer asked to defend a man accused of rape? What if this man knew your secret? What if this put your family in danger? Set in the 2021 COVID pandemic, this is the kind of book that sinks its claws into you and won’t let go. Just buy it.

Rachel Aygin

“False Witness” is a standalone thriller that is so up to date with modern life, blending the pandemic and its restrictions into the story seamlessly.

I can’t remember a story written by the world popular author Karin Slaughter, that I have not enjoyed - she was one of the first authors that got me addicted to reading and I’m so pleased I’m still enjoying her fabulous books. “False Witness” is a standalone thriller that is so up to date with modern life, blending the pandemic and its restrictions into the story seamlessly. Frighteningly, the story read completely normal and Karin managed to incorporate not just the regulations enforced on people but their own personal thoughts on the everyday restricted interactions with others. Keeping a delicate balance between a riveting crime thriller and unbiased up to date social issues, are a prominent feature of Karin’s recent writing and incorporating the pandemic into the storyline but not making it totally about it, ensured that this book became realistic and very relatable.
The story contains a lot of very hard hitting themes, drug dependency, the opioid crisis, child abuse, murder and rape with a lot of often graphic descriptions. Anyone who has ever read Karin’s books before will know this is her typical writing style but if you are new to her work, take heed, she pulls no punches in her descriptions in order to hit home the distressing enormity of the topics covered.
It’s difficult to discuss the main theme of “False Witness” without giving too much away but the crux of the story evolves around a brutal act of violence that happened twenty years ago that Leigh, a respected defence attorney, has been trying to run from. Rearing its very ugly head, time is running out for Leigh to save both herself and her younger, estranged sister but she will do anything to stop the truth from being exposed, while at the same time, railroaded into defending a serial rapist she knows is guilty.
If a story that mentions Covid doesn’t have any triggers for you and hard hitting themes and graphic descriptions don’t offend, ‘False Witness’ is undoubtedly a riveting read and I look forward to continuing my love for Karin’s books in the future.

Miriam Smith

A gripping crime thriller which you really can’t put down once you get reading it.

Unlike the majority of the crime thrillers that I have read this is a standalone novel. Its central character is Leigh Collier, a defence attorney with a deeply troubled past. 

Slaughter creates the perfect level of tension to keep the reader interested at all times. Characters are reasonably well rounded and realistic. The book tackles some very sensitive topics: child abuse, drug addiction, sibling relationships. A brilliant, but unsettling work. Definitely recommend to anyone who likes a gripping crime thriller.

Rachael Anderson

This book is very hard to put down! A compelling read with a good, complex plot and very well drawn characters.

This book is very hard to put down!
A compelling read with a good, complex plot and very well drawn characters.

The story begins with a teenage Carrie. The book then picks up some years later when Carrie and her sister Leigh are both adults. The girls have very different lives and both seem set on self destruction. Leigh is appointed to defend Andrew and at first is unable to identify why she feels so uneasy and fearful when she is with him. Andrew then makes reference to her teenage years and her nightmare begins as she realises who he is and how he can hurt her.

The relationship between the sisters is really well written. They appear to be very different but their shared experience has brought them very close even if they do not see each other often. The way they work together to protect each other is a masterly piece of writing.

Kathy Howell

A great read, with well-developed characters and a plot that will have you gripped to the end!!

False Witness follows a lawyer named Leigh who has a past that she has tried to keep buried since an horrific incident that happened when she was 18. Leigh has been successful in keeping her past hidden from all who know her for almost 2 decades but suddenly someone from her past hires her to get him off some serious charges that have been filed against him. Her world is turned upside down and she is forced to find her drug addict sister. So, she can protect her and their secrets once again!!

The writing in this book was really well done, yes a little long but and a bit repetitive in places but the plot was brilliant. I was drawn in from the very first page and couldn’t stop thinking about the story and characters. I a just wanted to finish the book so I could find out what would happen next, while at the same time not wanting to the book to end.

What I liked most about False Witness is the way Slaughter has taken challenging and sensitive topics and written a story around them, yes some of the details were a little difficult to read but at the same time I thought they made the book feel more realistic. I also liked how Slaughter has included details of the impact that Covid has had and is currently having on society. This may be off putting to some but I think it was a nice touch as this the “new normal” at present time.

The characters are well-developed, some not as likeable as others but after learning about their past you do get a better understanding of the decisions on certain actions and behaviours throughout the book.

Overall I thought this was a great read and look forward to catching up with reading Slaughters previous books as well as looking forward to seeing what she has instore for her readers next.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of gripping thrillers! However, I would like to point out that there are topics and a lot of graphic and violent scenes in this book which some people may find extremely triggering so I please pick this book with caution.

TRIGGER WARNINGS: Rape, Paedophilia, Child Pornography, Murder, Rape, Violence and Drug Abuse


A real page turner with unique character unpicking. One night can change who you are but can you be redeemed?

A unique story that makes you question why people are how they are, how just one night can change the lives of many and what secrets can do to you! A real page turner.

This book immediately draws you in and keeps you captivated until the end. The main characters, Callie, Harleigh and Andrew each have their own secrets and the impact of it has shaped their lives. The sisterly relationship between Callie and Harleigh continues to grow in its protective nature when just one night changes their lives. This story highlights that circumstances can change who you are as a person and shape your future path. But can you be redeemed?

I loved the character development in this book. At times the storyline was a tad gruesome but the stepping stones to unravel the plot were definitely unique.

Cat Hogwood

Great read. Hits the spot for any crime/thriller lover. It is brutal. It is gripping. It is utterly devastating. It will have you turning those pages until you get to the end.

Great read. This was my first Karin Slaughter book and I have to say it had me hooked after the first couple of chapters.
As a crime/thriller reader I am always on the look for a new author to try and False Witness has definitely 'hit the spot'.
Gripping, thrilling, fantastically written. I will be looking for my next Karin Slaughter fix for sure.
A devastating story of two sisters who no matter what are there for one another, even when a childhood trauma pulls them apart. Both wanting to forget what took place, both take a completely different path in a way to forget all that happened and leave it where it belongs (in the past). That is until someone from the past comes back to put a spanner in the works. Yet again, these two sisters must come together to be able to 'deal' with this person from their past before their past is revealed or even worse.... Before it is too late.
Powerful and brutal. False Witness is a page-turner that will have you hooked to the very end. 5/5 from me.

Ailsa Anderson

An enjoyable thriller full of drama and twists!

False Witness centres on two sisters, Callie and Leigh. From a troubled and disturbing upbringing, they have each gone their separate ways in life; Leigh has become a successful lawyer, while her sister Callie is hooked on drugs.
When Leigh is asked (or rather told) to take over a last minute defence trial for a rape, she realises that she recognises the accused man from her past - he knows her and her sister, but not in a good way.
This book is intense, but gripping and covers a whole range of hard-hitting and challenging issues, such as rape, abuse and murder which can be difficult to read at times, but makes for an interesting and involved story. The characters are well developed and you feel part of their lives from a very early point in the story.
It is written in current times, so expect lots of Covid references, but that doesn’t affect the story line just makes it seem more real. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, it was slightly more involved than other books I usually read but gave me a challenge!

Nicola Coen

Leigh must win the case to protect the people she loves and who love her. How far would you go for your family?

Harleigh and Callie babysat for Trevor when they were young and he was even younger. Then they stopped.

Years later, Leigh is called to represent Andrew in his defence against an accusation of violence and assault but Leigh knows Andrew and he wasn't called Andrew when she last saw him. Now Leigh must win the case to protect the people she loves and who love her. How far would you go for your family?

I love Karin Slaughter's novels which are always gritty, always make me think and are always slightly uncomfortable in the way that they are so believable. Once again, her characters are all totally flawed but not in the way of some authors which means that you can't like them at all, more that they are almost too relatable for comfort.

This is a stand alone novel but is just as well written as her series and just as thrilling. I tried not to read it too fast as I didn't want it to end but it kept my interest as I savoured every word and I couldn't guess where the next twist or turn would take me. A great book and one I would highly recommend.

Kerry Bridges

What do you do when your past catches up with you? Leigh and Callie have to fight for their future.

Leigh is a great defence lawyer and very good at her job but when a client has asked for her personally and says he knows her and her sister Callie she is wary of meeting him. It does seem however that she has met the client before and over 20 years ago when her and Callie were younger and he makes it difficult for her to say no to representing him.
What do you do when a very traumatic occurrence from your past threatens your future and not only hers but the lives of all her family and friends. She knows he has the upper hand but she will not give in without a fight and what a fight that will be!
This was a really gritty and fast flowing book with some cruel twists and turns. I couldn't help but pick sides but believe me no one comes away from this with innocence intact.
Karin Slaughter has done it again with a great stand alone book.

Carol Peace

Hold onto your seat, False Witness is an absolute corker.

What an amazing writer Karin Slaughter is. This book carries such an emotional punch that it’s quite exhausting to read. And the suspense keeps coming, wave after wave, right until the end. You can’t work out how the story will pan out and you won’t be able to work out how Leigh, the main character, can possible wiggle out of the tight spot(s) she gets into. Slaughter leads you down one path and then whacks you from behind with another twist. Very clever, very gripping.

Heather Byrne

A haunting story in many ways - the actions of two teenage sisters determines their future lives. The past is catching up on Callie and Leigh in the nastiest possible way. At times escape seems impossible.

For me, this started uncomfortably and with little to hold me. But, once I got into the novel, the plot was truly gripping. Great characterisation both of Callie, Leigh and Andrew - and enough of an element of realism for me to believe the story. Amazing detail about Callie's drug abuse which seemed utterly convincing and powerful insights into the mind of the protagonist Leigh, who had tortured herself from her teenage days. I'm hesitant about books with a Covid theme, but here it was subtle rather than in-your-face and I suspect the strength of the writing will mean this book lasts the test of time. It's the first by Karin Slaughter that I've read and I'm sure it won't be the last

Fiona Maclean

Brilliant story about a lawyer with an ordinary life - until a new case turns up for her and brings back her past. Kept me guessing.

Leigh Collier is a lawyer, a Mum, enjoying life on the face of it. But this hides a childhood that was not ordinary. Secrets, betrayal, a non-functioning Mum, a sister who she tries to protect but has gone off the rails.

Then a new case lands for her - specifically asking for her by name. The past comes back to haunt her.

Karin Slaughter ones again has us trying to guess what has happened and what will be the outcome? Definitely a page turner.

Set after Covid, it is interesting to see how there are little 'nods' to what everyone has gone through.

Highly recommend, but I am biased as I really enjoy Karin's books.

Alison Bisping

Karin Slaughter Press Reviews

Praise for Karin Slaughter:

'Gripping, gruesome and emotionally powerful, this is Slaughter doing what she does best' Mail on Sunday

'As sharp and absorbing as ever' Guardian

'Slaughter's novel is both a page-turner and a protest about how often sexual violence is overlooked' Sunday Times

'Tightly written, gritty and wonderfully gripping' Woman's Own

'Gritty and taut, it's an expertly crafted novel' Woman's Weekly

'Another violent cat-and-mouse game in Slaughter's dependable, long-running series' Sun

'I'd follow her anywhere' Gillian Flynn

'One of the boldest thriller writers working today' Tess Gerritsen

'Her characters, plot, and pacing are unrivalled' Michael Connelly

'Passion, intensity, and humanity' Lee Child

'A writer of extraordinary talents' Kathy Reichs

'Fiction doesn't get any better than this' Jeffery Deaver

'A great writer at the peak of her powers' Peter James

'Karin Slaughter has - by far - the best name of all of us mystery novelists' James Patterson

'Raw, powerful and utterly gripping' Kathryn Stockett

'With heart and skill Karin Slaughter keeps you hooked from the first page until the last' Camilla Lackberg

'It's big, dark, rich, satisfying, and bloody - like a perfectly cooked steak' Stuart MacBride

'The best yet' Lesley Pearse

'Amongst the world's greatest and finest crime writers' Yrsa Sigurdardottir

'Smart, gripping and packed with enthralling characters, this darkly addictive tale will reel you in from the get-go' Heat

'The queen of the explosive thriller' Good Housekeeping

'Buckle up for an exhilarating read' Prima

'Slaughter skilfully juggles her twin time frames and delivers a taut, complex and unusually thoughtful thriller' Mail on Sunday Event Magazine

'A great read' Daily Mail

'The best suspense novel of the year' Daily Express

'Fierce, savagely well-written' Metro

'Slaughter judiciously keeps the characterisation of her imperilled protagonists to the fore' Guardian

Other editions of this book

ISBN: 9780008303549
Publication date: 09/12/2021
Format: Paperback

ISBN: 9780008303501
Publication date: 24/06/2021
Format: Hardback

ISBN: 9780008303532
Publication date: 24/06/2021
Format: Audiobook

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About Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 40 million copies sold across the globe, her novels have all been Sunday Times bestsellers. Slaughter lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. Her standalone novel Pieces of Her is now a Netflix series, and the Grant County and Will Trent series are in development for television. www.karinslaughter.com Author photo © Alison Rosa The Silent Wife is the 20th book by Karin ...

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