Synopsis from Good Reads:
Will Trent is a brilliant agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. Newly in love, he is beginning to put a difficult past behind him. Then a local college student goes missing, and Will is inexplicably kept off the case by his supervisor and mentor, deputy director Amanda Wagner. Will cannot fathom Amanda’s motivation until the two of them literally collide in an abandoned orphanage they have both been drawn to for different reasons. Decades before, when his father was imprisoned for murder, this was Will’s home. It appears that the case that launched Amanda’s career forty years ago has suddenly come back to life—and it involves the long-held mystery of Will’s birth and parentage. Now these two dauntless investigators will each need to face down demons from the past if they are to prevent an even greater terror from being unleashed.
I read some mixed reviews about Criminal before starting this book, but I have to say that it’s my favorite Karin Slaughter book yet!
The story is told in alternating views and timelines, but all revolves around the same case (or cases involving the same villain). One timeline focuses on Amanda Wagner, Will’s boss at GBI, in the seventies when she was just starting out. When women were employed by the force, but not treated like cops. When Amanda and fellow female cop Evelyn (Faith’s mother – before she was Faith’s mother) realize a murdered woman was wrongly identified, they start their own investigation.
I really enjoyed the chapters from Amanda’s past. She’s been such a frustrating, inscrutable character thus far in the series and it was great to see her origins story. We get to see her influences, her emotions (yes, she actually has them), her growth, and most importantly, her connection to Will Trent.
In the current timeline, Will is finally happy, settling into his relationship with Sara (despite that pesky detail that he’s technically still married to Angie). However, the happiness is short lived when news is announced that a young girl has been abducted and his father has been paroled from prison.
From both timelines we get a lot of background on Will – on his parents, on his childhood, on his career with the GBI. Everything that’s been lacking for me in Will’s backstory was satisfied in this book.
Overall, I really enjoyed Criminal. There were times the story got a little bogged down with too much detail (especially in the forensic explanations) and I still find it off-putting that Sara and Will fully committed to their relationship before Will even tried to divorce Angie, but those were really the only parts of the book I didn’t like. The story was fast-paced, the mystery was interesting – especially how it connected to the present – and the character backstory and growth was very satisfying.
Rating (out of 5):
Overall Average: 4.375 stars