Written by Karin Slaughter — Opening a Karin Slaughter novel is like visiting the hall of mirrors at a fairground. You see things from all angles, but can never be certain which one is the true picture. Unseen is the ninth in the Will Trent series, and was one of the most pre-ordered books on Amazon before its release on 4 July. As well as Georgia Bureau of Investigation special agent Will Trent, the book features characters well known to Slaughter fans including Dr Sara Linton, and Lena Adams who is a detective with the Macon County Police Department.
The story begins as Lena is at home in Macon, Georgia after a hard day of giving evidence to Internal Affairs following a raid that went badly wrong. Four people ended up dead. It’s with mixed feelings that she awaits the return of husband Jared, a bike cop with the same force. Their previously happy marriage looks to be heading for the rocks, and Lena is slowly falling apart. So far, so (fairly) normal as the pair resume their nightly round of bickering while Jared begins a botched DIY job.
Then suddenly all hell lets loose as two men break in, guns blazing, and Jared slumps to the floor in a pool of blood. The only weapon panicking Lena has to hand is a claw hammer, which she uses to bloody good effect. She later comes to her senses to the sight of the shadowy figure of Will Trent, before he disappears again into the night.
Will is working deep undercover, and his appearance at Lena and Jared’s home could be his undoing. But as I’ve already said, you must take nothing for granted in a Karin Slaughter thriller. Will is posing as Bill Black, an ex-con who works as a maintenance man at the local hospital. However the real Will is in a relationship with Dr Sara Linton – a name familiar to Slaughter fans. You may well recall that she has a turbulent history with Lena, who is the former partner of Sara’s late cop husband, Jeffrey. Sara blames Lena for Jeffrey’s death. But why were Lena and Jared targeted in the attack? Were the shooters working for someone unhappy at a speeding ticket from Jared, or is there some other reason behind the botched raid? And why was Will at the scene at all?
You’ll need your wits about you to keep up with Unseen. Notwithstanding the complicated relationships between the central characters, there are several story threads which converge, then split, only to converge again as the plot thickens. And the timeline jumps about like a Jack in the Box on amphetamines. You may well find the flashbacks and fast forwards hard to follow. But wherever the author takes you, you are in for an interesting journey.
The underlying theme is that of trust and betrayal. There are places and people that we put our trust in without even thinking – like hospitals, doctors, nurses and police officers – but in Unseen, the lines are definitely blurred. The title is telling too. Throughout the story there are things going on in the background which only come to light in the gripping finale.
Slaughter is a writer of great skill, with a keen eye for a quirky character and an obvious love for, and intimate knowledge, of Georgia and the South. Unseen is a great addition to the Will Trent series, but just as good as a stand-alone story for someone new to Slaughter’s books. And once you’ve read one, you’ll be going back for more.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars