Tuesday, June 17, 2014

COP TOWN by Karin Slaughter

Karin Slaughter

            Kate Murphy is not quite the typical rookie one would expect at the Atlanta Police Department. She doesn’t fit, in many ways, especially in 1974, when the book takes place. Nonetheless, she is the star of Cop Town, a novel by Karin Slaughter.

            At the beginning of the book, Jimmy Lawson’s partner, Don Wesley, is murdered, bringing the total of executed police officers to five in three months. The other murders, however, were executions, with the pair of officers each being shot once in the head while on his knees. According to the old guard at the police department, the issue is racial – it is time, they believe, for the white males to take back the power that is rightfully theirs.

            It is into this environment that Kate Murphy begins her job as a police officer. She is an unlikely rookie, performing unlikely actions, and growing into the profession at an unlikely rate.

            I did not particularly care for Cop Town.  There are, roughly, three reasons for this.

            First, in my opinion, the start is very slow. I had a difficult time getting into the book. Although the pace picks up, I almost did not stick with the book long enough to reach that point.

            Second, I found the plot to be somewhat predictable. Although I did not correctly select “who-done-it”, I was in the right ballpark.

            And, third, I found the book to be weak on character development. In my opinion, but for a few exceptions, the characters are flat – one dimensional. There is not one character with whom I connect, or for whom I feel particularly empathetic, and so many of the characters are simply stereotypes. Perhaps this is what Slaughter intends. But, I think her message would hit harder if she were more subtle. This complaint, however, might be a result of my own preferences. My interests lean more towards drama, not true mysteries or thrillers in which extensive character development is not as important.

            Cop Town provides interesting descriptions of the many different areas of Atlanta. The novel does not feel realistic to me. It does not resonate with my own recollections of 1974; however, I am unfamiliar with 1974 Atlanta, Georgia.

            If you like straightforward thrillers, you might enjoy Cop Town. It did not, however, appeal to me.


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