Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fallen - Karin Slaughter (Audio)

About two years ago, I read my first Karin Slaughter book titled "Undone", a continuation of two series that merged somewhere along the line.  Being an avid fan of mystery thrillers, I enjoyed this book.  While it was a little heavy on the body parts, violence and shock value, I turned the last page vowing to read more from this series.  Well, of course, here I sit two years later having done no such thing.  Coming to my rescue was Jill Ovren at AudioGo, who offered not just a copy of the ARC of "Fallen", Karin's latest in the series, but one on audiobook.  It was an offer I couldn't refuse.

Synopsis:  The focus of this installment of the series is Faith Mitchell, Will Trent's partner.  Upon arriving at her mother's house late one day to pick up her infant daughter, Faith finds a horrific scene:  blood everywhere, a dead man in the kitchen, the baby hidden in the backyard shed, her mother missing, and gangsters wielding guns.  Faith takes the situation into her own hands and she kills the intruders, but their identities raise more questions than answers.  What were they after?  Did it have anything to do with Faith's mother's questionable connections to the drug trade when she was in the police force before she suddenly "retired"?  And where was her mother now?

Will and his ball-buster boss Amanda intend to get some answers, but chasing down leads only leaves a trail of dead bodies and dead ends.  Underlying every issue is the quandary:  Was Evelyn Mitchell a dirty cop and is the past coming back to haunt her, or is there something else completely different at work here?

From the personal angle, we meet back up with Dr. Sara Linton, the compassionate widow with whom Will Trent has found some chemistry.  Will not only struggles with his feeling of inadequacy because of his dyslexia, but also of a childhood spent in foster homes, and a mostly-absent, vindictive wife who refuses to let him go.  We can only stand by and champion the development of a relationship that can conquer all of these obstacles.

At the heart of this mind-bender is the theme, a popular one with Slaughter, of the strong female spirit.  Of Evelyn and Amanda, both pioneers for women in the police force, Faith Mitchell who is not only a respected police officer but a single parent and a diabetic, and Sara Linton, physician and survivor of a broken heart.

My thoughts:  My initial reaction to my second experience with Karin Slaughter was surprise.  While there were certain consistent elements between "Undone" and "Fallen" (the most obvious being the best kind of girl power), they were also very different.  This novel was much less of a bloody murder mystery, and more of a intellectual thriller.  I went into it feeling cocky, and figured I knew what was going on, but I really had no idea.  And I like that.  The twists were respectable, and the plot was complicated.

But too much complication can get frustrating.  To take the edge off, Slaughter throws us some really rewarding romance between Will and Sara.  These are two sympathetic, likable characters that really NEED to get together.  While they don't ride off into the sunset in this installment, we get enough to whet our whistle and come back for more next time.

With every crime thriller, I ask myself the same standard question.  What makes this novel or series stand out above the rest?  God knows there are so many of them that are forgotten in a week or two.  I believe where Slaughter shines is in her very realistic portrayal of strong female characters.  These ladies aren't perfect, but they try their best, refusing to be left behind in a man's world.  They hide their tears and their weaknesses, go cry in a bathroom if they have to, then come out and kick butt.  That is a credo in which I am willing to invest.

A word about the audio production:  The narrator for this audio was Shannon Cochran, a new voice for me.  Initially, she started out a little too brusque for me, but as time passed, I appreciated that her vocal personality was a match for some of the strong female characters in the book. 

Giveaway:  AudioGo has been generous enough to offer five copies of this audio for giveaway.  Simply indicate in the comments that you are interested, leave me your e-mail, and I will pick five winners next Tuesday, July 12th.

4 out of 5 stars     



Unknown said...

I love that you've described this as an "intellectual thriller" It is so rare to find books that keep me guessing and so I'm putting this on the list. I haven't tried Karin Slaughter, but if you say that she stands out from the crowd that is a good recomendation.

If your giveaway is international then I'd love a chance to win, but if not I'll see if I can find one of her books in my library. :-)

bermudaonion said...

I keep reading about Slaughter but haven't tried her work. I love strong female characters and prefer an intellectual thriller to a bloody mystery, so I'd love to be entered in your contest. kathy(at)bermudaonion.net

rhapsodyinbooks said...

I don't need the audio but am glad to see you like Slaughter. Her early books (the Grant County series) are quite different than the Will Trent books, but show that same intelligence.

Kim Frazier said...

Pick me! Pick me! :) I need a good audio. I can't seem to find a good one since Back Seat Saints & Gods in Alabama! Those are hard to top and my library seems to be stocking less and less of the good ones! See you soon, my friend!

Zibilee said...

Ok, you had me at intellectual thriller. I don't often find books that fit that description, and when I do, I am eager to give them a try. I loved this review, and you make a great case for this book. Please do enter me in your giveaway as well, and thanks for hosting it!


caite said...

some time ago I read the first Slaughter book...then one other, actually far along in the Will Trent series. And while I liked them I was not totally won over.

Then recently I read the second..then the third and I was TOTALLY roped in. Over the last two weeks I read all her books,in order, and I totally loved them.(ok, except for one)
But I must say I am now a total Slaughter fan. I think reading them ion order made a huge difference to my enjoyment.

caite said...

ooops...BTW, no need to end me in the contest since I now own them all..

Melissa said...

I love Slaughter and have from the beginning. Most of the time I read her books, but I listened to the first Will Trent book, and was willing to go back to audio on this one, since I could get to it right away. I'm about halfway through it now, and still not loving the narrator. Some of her voices just grate on my nerves. Oh well, I still love Slaughter. no need to enter me in the giveaway.

Iliana said...

I feel like I haven't stopped by your blog in ages Sandy! So sorry - life has just been crazy.

I haven't read a Slaughter book in forever but the couple I read I decided were just a bit too violent for me. Like you though I try to think of what is it that draws me back to a series - for the most part it has to be characters I like.

Anyway, no need to include me in the giveaway but I wanted to say Hi :)

natalie @book, line, and sinker said...

i saw a ton about karin slaughter in the last few weeks on twitter--during JIAM--and think i may have listened to one of her's a while back. audiobooks are my weakness and i can't be in the car without one or two (or five)! i'd love a shot at this one--and i'm wondering if the narrator is anything like barbara rosenblatt--she sounds a bit new york-y to me (and i live nearby!) but she's grown on me. :)

Sarah (The Brazen Bookworm) said...

Ooh, that sounds good. I've been meaning to read some of her books for ages but I just haven't managed to get to her yet! I am a big fan of police procedurals with strong female characters, though, so I guess I need to try these soon.

I haven't listened to anything by Shannon Cochran either, but if she captures the women's voices well, then I'm game!


Jen - Devourer of Books said...

I have this coming up, looking forward to the strong female character!

Anonymous said...

I keep saying I need to try one of her books and I love audios, so please sign me up!
stacybooks at yahoo