From the Publisher
“Karin Slaughter is simply one of the best thriller writers working today, and Cop Town shows the author at the top of her game—relentless pacing, complex characters, and gritty realism, all set against the backdrop of a city on the edge. Slaughter’s eye for detail and truth is unmatched. . . . I’d follow her anywhere.”—Gillian Flynn
“Cop Town proves Karin Slaughter is one of America’s best writers. . . . She pulls her readers into a twisted tale of mystery and keeps them fascinated from start to finish.”—The Huffington Post
“Stunning . . . In Karin Slaughter’s first stand-alone novel, she breaks new ground with this riveting story of two young police officers trying to stop a serial killer targeting cops. Her characters, plot, and pacing are unrivaled among thriller writers and if you haven’t yet read her, this is the moment.”—Michael Connelly
“Compulsively readable . . . will have your heart racing.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
“Intense . . . engrossing . . . evocative . . . [Karin Slaughter’s] first stand-alone novel [has] a gritty, action-packed plot and strong, believable characters.”—Associated Press
“Slaughter graphically exposes the rampant racism, homophobia, and misogyny of cop culture in the 1970s. . . . Winning leads, the retro setting, and a riveting plot make this one of Slaughter’s best.”—Booklist (starred review)
“Superb . . . explosive . . . [Cop Town] is sure to win over readers new to Slaughter’s work while reminding old fans of her enormous talent.”—Library Journal (starred review)
“Evocative writing . . . amazing characters . . . with edge-of-your-seat suspense and a riveting plot . . . Slaughter’s first stand-alone book is a knockout.”—RT Book Reviews
“Scintillating . . . Slaughter does her usual fine job of exploring intriguingly troubled characters.”—Publishers Weekly
“A masterpiece . . . Much more than a thriller . . . Karin Slaughter’s unforgettable female characters and stunning evocation of time and place make Cop Town one of the most powerful and moving reads of recent memory.”—Kathryn Stockett
Violent crime, police politics, and race relations all figure in this scintillating standalone set in 1970s Atlanta, from bestseller Slaughter (Martin Misunderstood). Maggie Lawson comes from a disjointed, emotionally disconnected family of law enforcement officers, and her time spent as an Atlanta PD cop has hardened her to many of the job’s horrors. But when her brother, Jimmy, who’s also a police officer, loses his partner to a notorious and elusive cop killer—only surviving the ordeal himself because the assassin’s handgun jammed—Maggie decides she can’t write this murder off as yet another day on the job. Determined to track down “the Shooter,” she finds an unlikely partner in Kate Murphy, a stunningly beautiful widow and new recruit reassigned to Maggie’s patrol. While the two women search for answers, Kate becomes the next potential victim in the demented Shooter’s crosshairs. Slaughter does her usual fine job of exploring intriguingly troubled characters, though readers should be prepared for plenty of gore. Agent: Victoria Sanders, Victoria Sanders & Associates. (June)
Gender politics and race relations are front and center in this explosive thriller. It's 1974 Atlanta, and another policeman has been shot by the man they're calling the Shooter, yet his partner, Jimmy Lawson, is left physically unharmed but devastated. Jimmy's sister Maggie, also a cop, is convinced that something is off about Jimmy's version of events, but getting anyone to listen to her suspicions would only prove futile. After all, women weren't very welcome on the police force in 1974 and they certainly didn't investigate serious crimes. When she's partnered with Kate Murphy, whose pampered background couldn't be more different from Maggie's solid blue-collar roots, events begin to escalate, and Kate and Maggie must put everything on the line to stop a ferocious killer. VERDICT Slaughter's first stand-alone thriller is a superb, very gritty look at both a city and era in social and political flux. It's also a searing portrait of family ties and how our pasts can shape our futures, as well as a gripping procedural, with some genuinely terrifying moments. Kate and Maggie are wonderful creations, and this title is sure to win over readers new to Slaughter's work while reminding old fans of her enormous talent. [See Prepub Alert, 1/6/14; Slaughter Q&A, LJ 4/15/14, p. 24.—Ed.]—Kristin Centorcelli, Denton, TX
A gritty procedural in which the streets of 1970s Atlanta are just as dangerous for cops as for criminals.Being a woman in uniform is hard enough, but thriller-writer Slaughter (Unseen, 2013, etc.) drives the point home like a knife to the eye—she does that, too—with her taut stand-alone featuring two female cops in a city bubbling over with racial and political unrest. Maggie Lawson bleeds blue—older brother Jimmy is in uniform and uncle Terry is top brass—but she's not welcome in the male-dominated police world. Besides the racial clashes erupting on the street and within the department, there's a cop killer on the loose. Known as the Shooter, he ambushes officers and executes them. As a woman whose duties involve writing tickets and generally keeping out of the way—despite the fact she has five years' experience under her heavy utility belt—Maggie can only stay peripherally involved in the manhunt, even when Jimmy's partner is killed. Officially, that is. Joined by rookie Kate Murphy, a woman trying to leave everything, from her upper-class upbringing to her dead husband, behind, the pair conducts their own investigation. Slaughter excels at empathetically flawed characters who rise above the violence—her books are not for the squeamish—of their circumstances; Maggie and Kate are on par with series regulars Will Trent and Sara Linton.There's nothing pretty about this divided cop town, but in exposing its ugliness, Slaughter forces us to question whether times really have changed.
Read an Excerpt
By Karin Slaughter
Random House LLC Copyright © 2014 Karin Slaughter
All rights reserved.
Maggie Lawson was upstairs in her bedroom when she heard the phone ringing in the kitchen. She checked her watch. There was nothing good about a phone ringing this early in the morning. Sounds from the kitchen echoed up the back stairs: The click of the receiver being lifted from the cradle. The low murmur of her mother's voice. The sharp snap of the phone cord slapping the floor as she walked back and forth across the kitchen.
The linoleum had been worn away in staggered gray lines from the countless times Delia Lawson had paced the kitchen listening to bad news.
The conversation didn't last long. Delia hung up the phone. The loud click echoed up to the rafters. Maggie knew every sound the old house made. She had spent a lifetime studying its moods. Even from her room, she could follow her mother's movements through the kitchen: The refrigerator door opening and closing. A cabinet banging shut. Eggs being cracked into a bowl. Thumb flicking her Bic to light a cigarette.
Maggie knew how this would go. Delia had been playing Bad-News Blackjack for as long as Maggie could remember. She would hold for a while, but then tonight, tomorrow, or maybe even a week from now, Delia would pick a fight with Maggie and the minute Maggie opened her mouth to respond, her mother would lay down her cards: the electric bill was past due, her shifts at the diner had been cut, the car needed a new transmission, and here Maggie was making things worse by talking back and for the love of God, couldn't she give her mother a break?
Busted. Dealer wins.
Maggie screeched the ironing board closed. She stepped carefully around folded stacks of laundry. She'd been up since five that morning doing the family's ironing. She was Sisyphus in a bathrobe. They all had uniforms of one kind or another. Lilly wore green-and-blue-checkered skirts and yellow button-down tops to school. Jimmy and Maggie had their dark blue pants and long-sleeved shirts from the Atlanta Police Department. Delia had her green polyester smocks from the diner. And then they all came home and changed into regular clothes, which meant that every day, Maggie was washing and ironing for eight people instead of four.
She only complained when no one could hear her.
There was a scratching sound from Lilly's room as she dropped the needle on a record. Maggie gritted her teeth. Tapestry. Lilly played the album incessantly.
Not too long ago, Maggie helped Lilly get dressed for school every morning. At night, they would page through Brides magazine and clip out pictures for their dream weddings. That was all before Lilly turned thirteen years old and her life, much like Carole King's, became an everlasting vision of the ever-changing hue.
She waited for Jimmy to bang on the wall and tell Lilly to turn that crap off, but then she remembered her brother had picked up a night shift. Maggie looked out the window. Jimmy's car wasn't in the driveway. Unusually, the neighbor's work van was gone. She wondered if he was working the night shift, too. And then she chastened herself for wondering, because it was none of her business what her neighbor was doing.
Now seemed as good a time as any to go down for breakfast. Maggie pulled the foam rollers from her hair as she walked down the stairs. She stopped exactly in the middle. The acoustic sweet spot. Tapestry disappeared. There were no sounds from the kitchen. If Maggie timed it right, she could sometimes grab a full minute of silence standing on the stairs. There wouldn't be another time during her day when she felt so completely alone.
She took a deep breath, then slowly let it out before continuing down.
The old Victorian had been grand at one point, though the house retained no evidence of its former glory. Pieces of siding were gone. Rotted wood hung like bats from the gables. The windows rattled with the slightest breeze. Rain shot a creek through the basement. There was no outlet in the house that didn't have a black tattoo ghosted around it from bad fuses and shoddy workmanship.
Even though it was winter, the kitchen was humid. No matter the time of year, it always smelled of fried bacon and cigarette smoke. The source of both stood at the stove. Delia's back was bent as she filled the percolator. When Maggie thought of her mother, she thought of this kitchen—the faded avocado-green appliances, the cracked yellow linoleum on the floor, the burned, black ridges on the laminate countertop where her father rested his cigarettes.
As usual, Delia had been up since before Maggie. No one knew what Delia did in the morning hours. Probably curse God that she'd woken up in the same house with the same problems. There was an unwritten rule that you didn't go downstairs until you heard eggs being whisked in a bowl. Delia always cooked a big breakfast, a holdover from her Depression childhood, when breakfast might be the only meal of the day.
"Lilly up?" Delia hadn't turned around, but she knew Maggie was there.
"For now." Maggie made the same offer she did every morning. "Can I do anything?"
"No." Delia jabbed the bacon with a fork. "Driveway's empty next door."
Maggie glanced out the window, pretending she didn't already know Lee Grant's van was not parked in its usual spot.
Delia said, "All we need is for girls to start going in and out of that house at all hours. Again."
Maggie leaned against the counter. Delia looked exhausted. Even her stringy brown hair couldn't be bothered to stay pinned on the top of her head. They'd all been picking up extra shifts to pay for Lilly to go to a private school. None of them wanted to see her bussed across town to the ghetto. They had four more years of tuition and textbooks and uniforms before Lilly graduated. Maggie wasn't sure her mother would last that long.
Excerpted from Cop Town by Karin Slaughter. Copyright © 2014 Karin Slaughter. Excerpted by permission of Random House LLC, a division of Random House, Inc.
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