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3.9 366
by Karin Slaughter

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Karin Slaughter’s internationally bestselling novels are as notable for their vivid portraits of lives shadowed by loss and heartbreak as they are for their dramatic criminal investigations. Her latest offering features the return of her most compelling characters and introduces memorable new ones in a tale of corruption, murder, and confrontation


Karin Slaughter’s internationally bestselling novels are as notable for their vivid portraits of lives shadowed by loss and heartbreak as they are for their dramatic criminal investigations. Her latest offering features the return of her most compelling characters and introduces memorable new ones in a tale of corruption, murder, and confrontation that will leave more than one life . . . 
When Special Agent Will Trent arrives in Grant County, he finds a police department determined to protect its own and far too many unanswered questions about a prisoner’s death. He doesn’t understand why Officer Lena Adams is hiding secrets from him. He doesn’t understand her role in the death of Grant County’s popular police chief. He doesn’t understand why that man’s widow, Dr. Sara Linton, needs him now more than ever to help her crack this case.

While the police force investigates the murder of a young woman pulled from a frigid lake, Trent investigates the police force, putting pressure on Adams just when she’s already about to crack. Caught between two complicated and determined women, trying to understand Linton’s passionate distrust of Adams, the facts surrounding Chief Tolliver’s death, and the complexities of this insular town, Trent will unleash a case filled with explosive secrets—and encounter a thin blue line that could be murderous if crossed.

Spellbinding and keenly paced, Broken is Karin Slaughter at her best. Here is an unforgettable story of raw emotions, dangerous assumptions, the deadly and layered game of betrayal, and a man’s determination to expose the most painful of human truths—no matter how deeply they’re hidden . . . or how devastating.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Addictive . . . Slaughter is a terrific writer, and she keeps the emotional tension high throughout.”—The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

“This chilling mystery is just begging to be read in one sitting.”—Cosmopolitan

“Move over, Catherine Coulter—Slaughter may be today’s top female suspense writer.”—Library Journal (starred review)

Publishers Weekly
Natalie Ross brings an earnest performance to her reading of Slaughter’s latest thriller, a sequel to 2009’s Undone, a complex tale of murder and lies. Dr. Sara Linton reluctantly returns to Grant County, Ga., where her chief of police husband was killed, to spend Thanksgiving with her family. The last thing she wants is to become involved in the apparent murder of a young college student, but with the suicide of the prime suspect, the simple-minded Tommy Braham, Sara is soon deep into an investigation that isn’t only about murder, but coverups and corruption in the police department as well. With the help of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s special agent Will Trent, Sara discovers a tangled web of deception and danger. Slaughter has built an superbly plotted story where nothing is as simple as it appears. Ross delivers the prose smoothly, nicely differentiating between the characters. Some decisions in the sound editing tend to be more distracting to the story than effective, but these are few and easily dismissed. A Delacorte hardcover (Reviews, May 24). (July)
Kirkus Reviews
A Georgia student's murder is solved all too quickly and violently-in a way that tears apart her community, fuels the hatred between Det. Lena Adams and former Medical Examiner Sara Linton, and promises still further violence. If it hadn't been for the telltale cut on the back of her neck, Allison Spooner's death would have looked like suicide, complete with motive and farewell note. Shortly after Lena realizes that Allison's been murdered, a routine search of Allison's place leads to a sudden, bloody confrontation with a masked intruder that leaves all three officers involved-Lena, Det. Brad Stephens and interim police chief Frank Wallace-wounded. Miraculously, the intruder doesn't escape. Arrested none too gently, Tommy Braham confesses that he killed Allison because she spurned his advances. But his story, though it conveniently fits the facts of the crime, seems to require a killer who's both more intelligent and less weepy than him. When Sara, just returned to Heartsdale for a visit, arrives at the jail in response to a mysterious phone call, she finds Tommy dead. Furious at the incompetence of Lena, whom she still holds responsible for her husband's death (Beyond Reach, 2007), Sara phones the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who send Special Agent Will Trent to determine the question of Tommy's innocence or guilt-and incidentally to referee the latest round of the long feud between the two women. As usual in this white-hot series (Fractured, 2008, etc.), the ongoing psychological warfare and the physical violence that punctuates it are far more memorable than the unmasking of the real killer.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Will Trent Series , #4
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.30(d)

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Read an Excerpt


Fortunately, the winter weather meant the body at the bottom of the lake would be well preserved, though the chill on the shore was bone-aching, the sort of thing that made you strain to remember what August had been like. The sun on your face. The sweat running down your back. The way the air conditioner in your car blew out a fog because it could not keep up with the heat. As much as Lena Adams strained to remember, all thoughts of warmth were lost on this rainy November morning.

"Found her," the dive captain called. He was directing his men from the shore, his voice muffled by the constant shush of the pouring rain. Lena held up her hand in a wave, water sliding down the sleeve of the bulky parka she had thrown on when the call had come in at three this morning. The rain wasn't hard, but it was relentless, tapping her back insistently, slapping against the umbrella that rested on her shoulder. Visibility was about thirty feet. Everything beyond that was coated in a hazy fog. She closed her eyes, thinking back to her warm bed, the warmer body that had been wrapped around her.

The shrill ring of a phone at three in the morning was never a good sound, especially when you were a cop. Lena had woken out of a dead sleep, her heart pounding, her hand automatically snatching up the receiver, pressing it to her ear. She was the senior detective on call, so she in turn had to start other phones ringing across south Georgia. Her chief. The coroner. Fire and rescue. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation to let them know that a body had been found on state land. The Georgia Emergency Management Authority, who kept a list of eager civilian volunteers ready to look for dead bodies on a moment's notice.

They were all gathered here at the lake, but the smart people were waiting in their vehicles, heat blasting while a chill wind rocked the chassis like a baby in a cradle. Dan Brock, the proprietor of the local funeral home who did double duty as the town coroner, was asleep in his van, head back against the seat, mouth gaping open. Even the EMTs were safely tucked inside the ambulance. Lena could see their faces peering through the windows in the back doors. Occasionally, a hand would reach out, the ember of a cigarette glowing in the dawn light.

She held an evidence bag in her hand. It contained a letter found near the shore. The paper had been torn from a larger piece—college ruled, approximately eight and a half inches by six. The words were all caps. Ballpoint pen. One line. No signature. Not the usual spiteful or pitiful farewell, but clear enough: I want it over.

In many ways, suicides were more difficult investigations than homicides. With a murdered person, there was always someone you could blame. There were clues you could follow to the bad guy, a clear pattern you could lay out to explain to the family of the victim exactly why their loved one had been stolen away from them. Or, if not why, then who the bastard was who'd ruined their lives.

With suicides, the victim is the murderer. The person upon whom the blame rests is also the person whose loss is felt most deeply. They are not around to take the recriminations for their death, the natural anger anyone feels when there is a loss. What the dead leave instead is a void that all the pain and sorrow in the world can never fill. Mother and father, sisters, brothers, friends, and other relatives—all find themselves with no one to punish for their loss.

And people always want to punish someone when a life is unexpectedly taken.

This was why it was the investigator's job to make sure every single inch of the death scene was measured and recorded. Every cigarette butt, every discarded piece of trash or paper, had to be catalogued, checked for fingerprints, and sent to the lab for analysis. The weather was noted in the initial report. The various officers and emergency personnel on scene were recorded in a log. If a crowd was present, photographs were taken. License plates were checked. The suicide victim's life was investigated just as thoroughly as with a homicide: Who were her friends? Who were her lovers? Was there a husband? Boyfriend? Girlfriend? Were there angry neighbors or envious co-workers?

Lena knew only what they had found so far: a pair of women's sneakers, size eight, placed a few feet away from the suicide note. Inside the left shoe was a cheap ring—twelve-karat gold with a lifeless ruby at the center. The right shoe contained a white Swiss Army watch with fake diamonds for numbers. Underneath this was the folded note.

I want it over.

Not much of a comfort for those left behind.

Suddenly, there was a splash of water as one of the divers surfaced from the lake. His partner came up beside him. They each struggled against the silt on the lake bottom as they dragged the body out of the cold water and into the cold rain. The dead girl was small, making the effort seem exaggerated, but quickly Lena saw the reason for their struggle. A thick, industrial-looking chain was wrapped around her waist with a bright yellow padlock that hung low, like a belt buckle. Attached to the chain were two cinder blocks.

Sometimes in policing, there were small miracles. The victim had obviously been trying to make sure she couldn't back out. If not for the cinder blocks weighing her down, the current would have probably taken the body into the middle of the lake, making it almost impossible to find her.

Lake Grant was a thirty-two-hundred-acre man-made body of water that was three hundred feet deep in places. Underneath the surface were abandoned houses, small cottages and shacks where people had once lived before the area was turned into a reservoir. There were stores and churches and a cotton mill that had survived the Civil War only to be shut down during the Depression. All of this had been wiped out by the rushing waters of the Ochawahee River so that Grant County could have a reliable source of electricity.

The National Forestry Service owned the best part of the lake, over a thousand acres that wrapped around the water like a cowl. One side touched the residential area where the more fortunate lived, and the other bordered the Grant Institute of Technology, a small but thriving state university with almost five thousand students enrolled.

Sixty percent of the lake's eighty-mile shoreline was owned by the State Forestry Division. The most popular spot by far was this one, what the locals called Lover's Point. Campers were allowed to stake tents. Teenagers came here to party, often leaving behind empty beer bottles and used condoms. Occasionally, there would be a call about a fire someone had let get out of control, and once, a rabid bear had been reported, only to turn out to be an elderly chocolate Labrador who had wandered away from his owners' campsite.

And bodies were occasionally found here, too. Once, a girl had been buried alive. Several men, predictably teenagers, had drowned performing various acts of stupidity. Last summer, a child had broken her neck diving into the shallow waters of the cove.

The two divers paused, letting the water drip off the body before resuming their task. Finally, nods went around and they dragged the young woman onto the shore. The cinder blocks left a deep furrow in the sandy ground. It was six-thirty in the morning, and the moon seemed to wink at the sun as it began its slow climb over the horizon. The ambulance doors swung open. The EMTs cursed at the bitter cold as they rolled out the gurney. One of them had a pair of bolt cutters hefted over his shoulder. He slammed his hand on the hood of the coroner's van, and Dan Brock startled, comically flailing his arms in the air. He gave the EMT a stern look, but stayed where he was. Lena couldn't blame him for not wanting to rush into the rain. The victim wasn't going anywhere except the morgue. There was no need for lights and sirens.

Lena walked closer to the body, carefully folding the evidence bag containing the suicide note into her jacket pocket and taking out a pen and her spiral-bound notebook. Crooking her umbrella between her neck and shoulder, she wrote the time, date, weather, number of EMTs, number of divers, number of cars and cops, what the terrain was like, noted the solemnity of the scene, the absence of spectators—all the details that would need to be typed exactly into the report.

The victim was around Lena's height, five-four, but she was built much smaller. Her wrists were delicate, like a bird's. The fingernails were uneven, bitten down to the quick. She had black hair and extremely white skin. She was probably in her early twenties. Her open eyes were clouded like cotton. Her mouth was closed. The lips looked ragged, as if she chewed them out of nervous habit. Or maybe a fish had gotten hungry.

Her body was lighter without the drag of the water, and it only took three of the divers to heft her onto the waiting gurney. Muck from the bottom of the lake covered her head to toe. Water dripped from her clothes—blue jeans, a black fleece shirt, white socks, no sneakers, an unzipped, dark blue warm-up jacket with a Nike logo on the front. The gurney shifted, and her head turned away from Lena.

Lena stopped writing. "Wait a minute," she called, knowing something was wrong. She put her notebook in her pocket as she took a step closer to the body. She had seen a flash of light at the back of the girl's neck—something silver, maybe a necklace. Pondweed draped across the victim's throat and shoulders like a shroud. Lena used the tip of her pen to push away the slippery green tendrils. Something was moving beneath the skin, rippling the flesh the same way the rain rippled the tide.

The divers noticed the undulations, too. They all bent down for a better look. The skin fluttered like something out of a horror movie.

One of them asked, "What the—"

"Jesus!" Lena jumped back quickly as a small minnow slithered out from a slit in the girl's neck.

The divers laughed the way men do when they don't want to admit they've just soiled themselves. For her part, Lena put her hand to her chest, hoping no one noticed that her heart had practically exploded. She took a gulp of air. The minnow was floundering in the mud. One of the men picked it up and tossed it back into the lake. The dive captain made the inevitable joke about something being fishy.

Lena shot him a hard look before leaning down toward the body. The slit where the fish had come out was at the back of the neck, just to the right of the spine. She guessed the wound was an inch wide, tops. The open flesh was puckered from the water, but at one point the injury had been clean, precise—the kind of incision that was made by a very sharp knife.

"Somebody go wake up Brock," she said.

This wasn't a suicide investigation anymore.


Frank Wallace never smoked in his county-issued Lincoln Town Car, but the cloth seats had absorbed the fug of nicotine that seeped from every pore in his body. He reminded Lena of Pig Pen from the Peanuts comic strip. No matter how clean he was or how often he changed his clothes, the stench followed him like a dust cloud.

"What's wrong?" he demanded, not even giving her time to shut the car door.

Lena shucked her wet parka onto the floorboard. Earlier, she had thrown on a jacket with two shirts underneath to help fight the cold. Still, even with the heat blasting, her teeth were chattering. It was as if her body had stored up all the chill while she was standing outside in the rain and only let it out now that she was safely sheltered.

She held her hands up to the vent. "God, it's freezing."

"What's wrong?" Frank repeated. He made a show of pulling back his black leather glove so he could see his watch.

Lena shivered involuntarily. She couldn't keep the excitement out of her voice. No cop would ever admit it to a civilian, but murders were the most exciting cases to work. Lena was so pumped through with adrenaline that she was surprised the cold was getting to her. Through chattering teeth, she told him, "It's not a suicide."

Frank looked even more annoyed. "Brock agree with you?"

Brock had gone back to sleep in his van while he waited for the chains to be cut, which they both knew because they could see his back molars from where they were sitting. "Brock wouldn't know his ass from a hole in the ground," Lena shot back. She rubbed her arms to coax some warmth back into her body.

Frank took out his flask and handed it to her. She took a quick sip, the whisky burning its way down her throat and into her stomach. Frank took a hefty drink of his own before returning the flask to his coat pocket.

She told him, "There's a knife wound in the neck."


Lena gave him a withering glance. "The dead girl." She leaned down and searched her parka for the wallet she had found in the pocket of the woman's jacket.

Frank said, "Could be self-inflicted."

"Not possible." She put her hand to the back of her neck. "Blade went in about here. The killer was standing behind her. Probably took her by surprise."

Frank grumbled, "You get that from one of your textbooks?"

Lena held her tongue, something she wasn't used to doing. Frank had been interim police chief for the last four years. Everything that happened in the three cities that comprised Grant County fell under his purview. Madison and Avondale carried the usual drug problems and domestic violence, but Heartsdale was supposed to be easy. The college was here, and the affluent residents were vocal about crime.

Even without that, complicated cases had the tendency to turn Frank into an asshole. Actually, life in general could turn him into an asshole. His coffee going cold. The engine in his car not catching on the first try. The ink running dry in his pen. Frank hadn't always been like this. He'd certainly leaned toward grumpy for as long as Lena had known him, but his attitude lately was tinged with an underlying fury that seemed ready to boil to the surface. Anything could set him off. In the blink of an eye he'd turn from being manageably irritated to downright mean.

Meet the Author

Karin Slaughter is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of numerous thrillers, including Cop Town, Unseen, Criminal, Fallen, Broken, Undone, Fractured, Beyond Reach, Triptych, Faithless, and the e-original short stories “Snatched” and “Busted.” She is a native of Georgia.

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Broken 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 366 reviews.
THRILL-SEEKER More than 1 year ago
Karin Slaughter raises the stakes once again, taking this genre for a thrillride. She captivates with BROKEN, her best storytelling yet, and takes her vivid and tried and true characters in new and unforgettable directions. Unlike so many others in her field, Slaughter NEVER phones it in. She is truly the hardest working thriller writer on the market, and the one with the most visionary and wicked imagination. I could barely wait for this one to pop today. I'm stunned by the misinformation and lack of facts in the front page review, whose writer proudly but ignorantly states this book was released in 09. Reviewers should have the good sense to fact-check before mouthing off. This one is a winner and, as is always the case with Slaughter, a serious departure.
christytilleryfrench More than 1 year ago
Former coroner Sara Linton hasn't visited her hometown in Grant County, Georgia since the death of her husband, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver. Almost four years later, she returns, planning to spend Thanksgiving with her family. Shortly thereafter, Tommy Braham, a mentally disabled young man, is arrested for the murder of Allison Spooner and asks that Sara, his former pediatrician, visit him. When Sara arrives at the jail, it appears Tommy has committed suicide. Sara, who blames the arresting officer, Lena Adams, for her husband's death, immediately suspects Lena mishandled the interrogation and provided the young man the means to kill himself. After she calls in the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Special Agent Will Trent arrives in Grant County, where he is met with stubborn resistance from the police department. Sara is asked to perform autopsies on Tommy and Allison as Trent investigates both murders while trying to unravel the complexities of Lena's involvement in Tommy's murder, as well as that of Chief Tolliver. Slaughter once more provides a tense thriller centered around Sara Linton. Although the character Jeffrey Tolliver is certainly missed, this book proves the series can move forward without his presence. Slaughter is adept at providing dark, complex characters and does not disappoint with this outing. Her revelations concerning the desperate measures hardworking, indigent people will resort to is insightful and empathetic.
BookAddictFL More than 1 year ago
Broken is Karin Slaughter at her finest. Dr. Sara Linton, the star of this ongoing series, takes a backseat in this novel. Slaughter gives Special Agent Will Trent, a character we've met in earlier novels, the starring role here. Will is a flawed but incredibly likable character who brings a new spark to this series. It's not often that a twist in a story truly takes me by surprise. However, Slaughter manages it with ease here. The story moves at a quick pace, we are given great imagery without lengthy descriptions, the characters feel real, and the tangled plot kept me reading. I will be honest and say that I was disappointed in Slaughter's last book and was a bit leery of reading this one. But nothing about Broken was a let down. I enjoyed every word! ** I received this book as a first-read from the www.Goodreads.com giveaway. **
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Book, good reading...will keep you engaged till the end....
harstan More than 1 year ago
Four years ago, in Heartsdale, Grant County's popular police chief Tolliver was murdered; the case remains unsolved. His widow Dr. Sara Linton was the county coroner and ran a children's clinic, but left after her spouse died. She is back in town visiting her family on Thanksgiving yet is still thirsting for her husband's homicide to be resolved although she is positive that Officer Lena Adams is at the center of her husband's homicide. At the same time, Special Agent Will Trent is also in Grant County to investigate a questionable death oif a prisoner. Not surprising, he finds the local police officers circling the wagons protecting each other form the intruder. Will concludes that Police Officer Lena Adams is concealing something, but is not sure what or why. As he struggles with the uncooperative cops, he is taken aback when Dr. Linton asks him to look into her husband's murder, a cold case. Trent is being pulled by two women in opposite directions of the Blue Line that keeps him outside in spite of being law enforcement too. This is an intriguing Grant County thriller (see Faithless, Undone and Blindsided) as Will instead of Sara holds the story line together with two females yanking him in opposite directions. The insightful look at the learning disorder agraphia augments the taut tale as it showcases how an individual learns to conceal a problem with some form of over compensation. In a starring role, Will brings freshness to the plot as he investigates two deaths that cast the Grants County Police Office in a shroud of darkness. Harriet Klausner
ThrilList More than 1 year ago
We've waited to see Lena and Sara again for so long! This merging of the Will Trent story line and Grant County is not to be missed.
gutsrus99 More than 1 year ago
I've been an avid reader of Karin Slaughter and have enjoyed following the characters in her books, from Will to Sara. Karin has made these characters come to life for us, her fans. And Broken continues the great storyline of both characters. Her books will grip you and you just can't put them down. I recommend Broken if you need a good book to read.
trishcTN More than 1 year ago
With Karin Slaughter you can never go wrong. This is the Best, I could not put it down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As with Karin's previous books, "Broken" is an intense page-turner. What impresses me with her new work is how skillfully Karin weaves the worlds of Grant County and Will Trent together.
Avid_ReaderLL More than 1 year ago
Broken is a good name for this book because to me that's exactly what the Grant County series is...broken. Killing off Jeffrey Tolliver has destroyed this series for me. While Slaughter writes fantastic mysteries that keep you guessing, they also tend to be rather dark. In the earlier Grant County novels, this was balanced with the journey and ongoing love story of Sara and Jeffrey. However, now there is no balance and I found this book just dark and depressing. Broken is set 4 years after Jeffrey's death, but it might as well have been the day after. All the characters in Grant County, including Sara that returned, seem to have gone on a downward spiral unable to move past Jeffrey's death. If the book isn't focusing on Will Trent solving the mystery, it waxes nostalgic about Jeffrey, reminding fans that there won't be a happy ending. The biggest insult to me is the fact that Lena, who is partially responsible for Jeffrey's death, is now involved with Jeffrey's biological son and really hasn't redeemed herself at all. Maybe there is some greater plan for these characters, but frankly I don't care anymore. I'm disappointed and walking away from a series that used to be fantastic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I can't wait for her next book; her sytle is wonderful and makes every book a page-turner!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like her books. Keeps you guessing.
Bearcatrawr More than 1 year ago
When I first bought this book, I expected it would be good. I had read one of the other Sara Linton books by Karin Slaughter a few months ago and I completely enjoyed it. What I didn't expect was for it to be even better! Karin adds suspense in a way it envelopes you. You can't wait to turn the page. You can't even seem to Fathom "who dun it" either. You may have your suspicions but Karin puts each character in a light so they either look like they all did it or not a single soul did. You seem to delve into the book, the people and the town. Like you're recalling a memory rather than reading. The end was breathtaking. I was completely surprised. Even after having finished the book, I find myself thinking about how the end ties to the rest of the book. Karin gives you clues throughout, but you don't get them until the final verdict. I had actually finished reading this particular book while I was at work. It was so exciting I finished it and ended up being late back from lunch. I had stood up and made my way to the office door, but I just couldn't put the book down, to continue it later. I love this book. In combination with Kisscut by Karin, I will devote my reading time to all of the Slaughter books. I can't wait to start the next one!
Lizard10 More than 1 year ago
This is the eighth in the series and I recommend reading them in order to get the development of the characters to date. Still, each is complete in itself and can be read singly. This story is intricate in that the leads don't always point the right way. Clues that seem pertinent may or may not be vital to finding the culprit. The personal feelings between several of the characters provide a compulsion for the characters to pursue their paths. In an unusual twist (and this is not a spoiler), two of the main characters never come face to face in this book, yet both are instrumental in the story. I would not rate this as a cozy read, but if you like serious mystery books, read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a pretty good read overall. The first part of the book gathers you in and keeps your interest by developing a story line and detailing conflict between characters. The last third or so of the book, however, seems to move too fast and tries to pack way too much detail into a short amount of space. The author tries to pull together way too many loose ends and it seems like she rushes and does not make it easy to follow. I do think this is a good read, but wish there was additional background earlier in the book to help make it easier to follow the resolution.
Shannon71 More than 1 year ago
Karin Slaughter outdoes herself again!!! Was well worth waiting for!! Loved it!
Anonymous 3 months ago
Mystery at its best Reccommend
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Some authors get trapped by formulaic writing.
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