The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter deserves a shelf of her own because sometimes it’s not fair to put writing this good on the same shelf as everyone else. The Good Daughter is her latest thriller and it will enthrall you even as it wrings you out emotionally.

Charlotte and Samantha Quinn are sisters whose young lives were torn apart by violence that saw their mother dead and left them with physical and emotional scars. Twenty-eight years later, both sisters have forged successful careers when new violence in their hometown of Pikeville brings them back together. Untangling themselves from this new horror reopens their own trauma and reveals secrets that have remained buried for nearly 30 years.

Slaughter is unflinching in her depiction of brutality. She doesn’t linger over it or unnecessarily embellish it, but neither does she let you look away from its horror. She is unparalleled at conveying the devastation of these acts, the physical and emotional trauma they inflict, and the way they alter the course of the lives of the survivors.

The characters are all complicated and well-drawn. Rusty Quinn is a complicated man balancing his strong convictions about the justice system with his love for his daughters. Charlotte carries the emotional pain of surviving while her mother died and her sister Sam, who nearly died, is left with lifelong mobility issues. Even Gamma, their deceased mother, is painted as a brilliant and complicated woman. The pain of these relationships as they fracture and rebuild is incredibly emotional.

As the irregularities of the present day crime in Pikeville come to light, they unlock memories from 28 years earlier and shed new light on the earlier tragedy. Slaughter keeps the pace moving so quickly and skillfully that you may find yourself literally panting along with the characters. One brief courtroom scene is so well done it makes me wish Slaughter’s next stand alone book is a legal thriller.

Slaughter uses violence to better effect than any writer I know. But it is the emotional depth that she conveys that makes this one of the best books of the year. Highly recommended.

I was fortunate to receive an advance copy of this book.

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