The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter

Review published on July 4, 2017.

This powerful book starts with the happened to Samantha in 1989, when two masked men killed her mother, put a bullet through her head and tried to bury her alive. The main culprit is deemed to be Zachariah Culpepper, someone known to Sam’s father, Rusty, who is a defence attorney for the type of people no one wants to represent. The tension is there right from the start and the impact of a bullet at close range is shockingly described. Sam was just 15 years old and trying to protect Charlotte, her 13-year-old sister.

The story then jumps ahead 28 years, picking up the lives of Charlotte and Rusty. Charlotte is now a lawyer herself and works in the same building as her father, but their casework is very different. Charlotte has had to adjust to a very turbulent life, following the harrowing ordeal of her mother’s murder and her sister’s attack. Bullied by the Culpepper sisters in the aftermath of losing her mum, she has managed to lead her life despite this, although she has had to try and bury certain memories. But something as chilling and harrowing as that experienced by Charlotte will of course leave its scars.

These memories bubble to the surface when Charlotte is present at the local school when a shooting occurs and two people are killed, again with a vivid description of events. The police over react and things get messy. Consequently, a whole new set of problems start to emerge.

Absorbing from the start, these feisty, intelligent women striving to live their lives after witnessing one of the worst deaths and trauma is compelling. The storyline with Charlotte’s husband, Ben, their relationship and the transformation he undergoes was perhaps the least convincing, as were elements of the police reactions that felt OTT and therefore somewhat unrealistic, but that is only a modest flaw in the scheme of things as the pace swiftly sweeps you through. Much is woven into the story and the details of what transpired years ago and why starts to become more granular. The impact on their lives is more apparent and the book is thus as much about coping after adversity and finding your true self as anything else. Despite this being more about family relationships than the crimes themselves, it is still a very decent, gripping thriller.

Sara Garland 4/4

The Good Daughter by Karin Slaughter
William Morrow & Company 9780062430243 hbk Aug 2017

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