False Witness

I listened to Karin Slaughter’s latest standalone novel, False Witness, and came away with mixed feelings. The story, pacing, and character development are all there, skillfully achieved. But this is a hard read because of the subject matter which includes child abuse and neglect, predators, addiction, and rape. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Sisters Harley and Callie don’t have it easy but they have each other. When Callie’s sexual abuse comes to light Harley is there to help take care of business and clean up the mess. Literally. But what seems like a closed door is actually cracked open. They try to erase and ignore their past but it eventually comes back to them.

It is always interesting to see how two siblings coming from the same environment can turn out so differently. Harley escapes through her studies, changes her name, meets a nice guy, and starts a brand new life. Callie, injured by her rapist as well as a debilitating cheerleading injury, escapes into drug use. They’re both doing the best that they can.

The story is a page-turner, no doubt about it. When their past comes back in a totally unexpected way, Callie and Harley spring into action. Not unlike the way they did when they were teenagers. There are villains and heroes, bad mothers and good father figures. The story twists and turns and the ending is sad, but inevitable. I naively hoped for happy but Karin Slaughter does not write fairy tales.

Since starting to listen to audiobooks last year I’ve plowed through half of the Joe Pickett series of books by C.J. Box. They’re enjoyable mysteries set in the West, and the narrator, David Chandler, does a fine job. This was my first audiobook not in that series and Kathleen Early is equally good. The voices of the different characters, both male and female, are unique and believable. She really brings the book to life.

When listening at home I’m usually doing something else at the same time, lately a jigsaw puzzle. It never fails that my husband will walk into the room just as something strange, or violent, or risque is said and it feels pretty awkward. That would never happen while reading a traditional book!

Overall I enjoyed False Witness but it is absolutely one of Slaughter’s more brutal novels. It’s also smart and funny and timely. If you’re new to her but a little wary I recommend Cop Town instead for a standalone gem, or the latest in her Will Trent series, The Silent Wife (https://wordpress.com/post/bookthrasher.com/431)

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