Cop Town

Shortest review ever: Go read this book!
Regular review as follows…
I inhaled Cop Town by Karin Slaughter. I haven’t previously read anything else by Slaughter but heard good reviews about this book. They were right. Cop Town is a tense novel set in 1970’s Atlanta during a time when cops are being killed on the streets.
Another book with a gripping Prologue. Jimmy Lawson is a cop running through town with his partner over his shoulder. Enough details are provided to know that someone shot his partner and tried to shot Jimmy but the gun jammed. He makes it to the hospital.
We next meet his sister, Maggie, also a cop. She learns about the shooting when she wakes up. Her uncle, Terry Lawson, arrives. He’s another cop bent on catching whoever tried to kill his nephew. Over Maggie’s shoulder we see her life is difficult for a myriad of reasons – her family, her gender, her profession. Terry doesn’t want to hear her theories about The Shooter, the uncaught man who has killed other cops in the same manner. Terry doesn’t really think Maggie should be a cop.
That same day, a new recruit joins the force. Kate Murphy is a widow trying to find a purpose in her life. The hazing for a rookie begins before she even walks in the door. Her official uniform is too large as are the hat and shoes assigned to her. Walking through the station to the women’s locker room is a gauntlet of men touching her and making rude comments. The women aren’t any better. There are rules she can’t even begin to know.
Using a rookie as a central character was a keen choice by Slaughter. It provides two things: a reason for information to be provided about the world the newbie has entered as well as an outsider’s perspective. Some of the best scenes are Kate being schooled by Maggie or any number of other female cops and detectives.
Here’s the breakdown so far:
  • Prologue: Jimmy’s partner is shot.
  • Chapter One: Maggie thinks it’s the shooter.
  • Chapter Two: Kate arrives at the station.
  • Chapter Three: We meet a man named Fox who is stalking Kate.
What?!?
Exactly. That’s why I enjoyed this book so much. Everything moves so quickly. Those first couple of chapters are illuminating but also tell us very little about the depths of the characters and their motivations. That will be flushed out during the investigation into The Shooter which has many twists and reveals and fascinating characters. Even the supporting cast has an energy to all its own.
While the two protagonists are white females, they are very different. And I say this because this is integral to the book. So much of Cop Town is about how there are many cities within one city. Everyone thinks Atlanta is their city and by everyone I mean the whites in the crappy part of town, the whites in the fancy part of town, the blacks and their various neighborhoods, the college within Atlanta, the cops, the pimps and their girls. There is a lot of rough language in the book coming from certain characters’ mouths. While it may be after the peak of the civil rights movement, there are still many people who don’t want change.
I appreciated being pushed by the language. It forced me to consider my reactions. What bothered me and why? What didn’t bother me and why? It is a testament to Karin Slaughter’s skill that she was able to write a hard core thriller that kept me wanting more while layering in piercing questions about race and diversity and tolerance.
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