The Good Daughter: A Novel, by Karin Slaughter

I’ve been a fan of Karin Slaughter since first reading Cop Town a couple of years ago. She writes tight thrillers with a mystery attached, usually with a strong professional woman at the center and southern locales.

This book focuses on the life of Charlotte “Charlie” Quinn. An attorney and the daughter of a notorious criminal attorney in smalltown Pikeville, Georgia. Separated from her husband for the past two years she has a one-time tryst with a handsome school teacher and they accidentally switch phones. Returning to the school she once attended herself she goes to see the teacher and trade phones when a horrible shooting occurs outside the classroom. The shooter appears to be a quiet, slow female student who is arrested on the spot.

Charlie’s father becomes the attorney for the girl and, against her will, Charlie becomes embroiled in the defense herself. But as the case progresses Charlie is regularly brought back to her own childhood and a horrible night of a home invasion and an attack on her and her sister.

There are some tough scenes of rape and shooting in the book, but the mystery is excellently hidden and I had no accurate guesses until the final reveal.  It’s a strong portrayal of girls raised by a distant and dedicated father, a distant and brilliant mother, and an event that would devastate any family. Charlie’s life and reconciliation with her ex-husband, even her law career, are in the balance as she churns through the various bits of evidence of a crime she heard but didn’t witness.

It’s a book that kept me up reading in the middle of the night wanting to know what happened next. Slaughter manages twists with artistry (there are lots and they’re BIG) and, as always, brings in an amazing number of life-like characters both good and bad.

Trigger warning for any reader upset by sexual crimes, home invasion, and crimes against children.