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We are thrilled beyond measure to announce that Karin Slaughter is our early summer Guest Editor. Karin’s books are among the most exciting and compulsively readable novels out there. You can tell by the way that editorial expert Liz Robinson raves about her books, and the fact that they regularly sit on the LoveReading Star Books list, that the team here rate Karin as a book world GREAT!
False Witness, Karin’s latest standalone novel, is published in hardback on the 24 June and is quite simply outstanding. It packs an overwhelming punch and Karin’s unmistakable magic touch. She knows exactly when to place a lighter moment, or blurt of laughter to aid the reader in this powerful and provocative novel that explores social issues and violence. Liz Robinson’s review describes it as: “stunning yet dark and devastating… Karin Slaughter has hit this standalone thriller out of the park”.
So a very warm welcome, and over to Karin.
The theme of my selection is ignoring genre. I’m always slightly amused when I hear people say they don’t read genre fiction, because what I think they’re trying to say is that they only read books that smart people read. Another phrase I love is transcending the genre, which is a fancier way of saying “I’m normally too smart to read dystopia, or science fiction, or murder mysteries, but I really enjoyed the Handmaid’s Tale (Margaret Atwood) and the Martian (Andy Weir) and Case Histories (Kate Atkinson).” Guess what? That means you love genre fiction.
I met Tochi on a panel right before the pandemic hit and he was so delightful and engaging that I took a copy of his book home with me. Post #MeToo, a depressingly predictable number of male writers have suddenly turned away from tough guy narrators to writing women protagonist who are feisty and kick ass and love to give blow jobs. Tochi isn’t like that. He has a kindness and curiosity that imbues his characters with respect and believable complications. His young women are trying to find a place in the world that seeks to stifle them. That they are able to find ways through the many obstacles thrown in their paths speaks to Tochi’s sensitivities and I dare say his own family’s immigrant experience.
My friend Alafair Burke told me to read this book or she would stop talking to me. She was right to put the threat at that level because this is simply one of the best books I’ve read in the last ten years. Like Alafair, Attica is both a writer and a lawyer, so she really understands her material. The thing that got me right out of the gate is that the narrator is a black Texas Ranger. We don’t often see police procedurals written from the perspective of black law enforcement officers, or in the rare cases that we do, those officers tend to come across as anti-heroes. Attica takes on the racial issues at the core of this story with an unblinking eye, and the reader is all the better for her honesty. You can see why this woman has won or been shortlisted for just about every major award there is, including the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction (for Pleasantville in 2016)
Pale Horse, Pale Rider by Katherine Anne Porter (collection)
Many people refuse to read short fiction, but what they don’t understand is that the important part is the fiction, not the length. Being able to tell a story with a modicum of words is an absolute talent that not every book-length author possesses, but Porter loosely fictionalized a gut-wrenching account of her own struggle with the Spanish Flu in the eponymous story. I remember reading this collection in college and being shocked that this cataclysmic event that killed millions of people happened and I hadn’t until that moment really learned about the pandemic. Of course, there are echoes to what we are going through today, and when I started writing my own pandemic novel, I went back to Pale Horse, Pale Rider for inspiration.
I bought this for a flight back home from London and it so captivated me that I was literally the last person to stand up after we landed. Mo and I had to put up with the same type of crap when we started writing—interviewers asking us how we as women can write such brutal stories about women and children. When women write these sorts of stories, they’re categorized as “domestic thrillers.” When men write them, they’re marketed as evocatively capturing female rage (Mo Hayder: too angry and violent. Stig Larsson: evocatively captures female rage). Hands down this is one of the best-plotted, most terrifying novels you’ll read.
Again, one of those genre ghettos where a woman gets put in domestic suspense and a male author would get put in plain ol’ suspense or thriller. This is an “every mother’s nightmare” story that turns into an “every woman’s nightmare,” but what Jennifer is telling here is a universal story about self-doubt, betrayal and ultimately, revenge. I can’t think of another author working today who writes characters quite like Jennifer.
Karin Slaughter is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 21 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated COP TOWN and the instant NEW YORK TIMES bestselling novels PRETTY GIRLS, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, and PIECES OF HER. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project--a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, Karin Slaughter lives in Atlanta. Her standalone novels PIECES OF HER, THE GOOD DAUGHTER, and COP TOWN are in development for film and television.