Cop Town

Cop Town

by Karin Slaughter

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Karin Slaughter, author of the bestselling Will Trent novels, is widely acclaimed as “one of the best crime novelists in America” (The Washington Post). Now she delivers her first stand-alone novel: an epic story of a city in the midst of seismic upheaval, a serial killer targeting cops, and a divided police force tasked with bringing a madman to justice.

Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.

Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.

Relentlessly paced, acutely observed, wickedly funny, and often heartbreaking, Cop Town is Karin Slaughter’s most powerful novel yet—a tour de force of storytelling from our foremost master of character, atmosphere, and suspense.

Features a preview of Karin Slaughter’s next novel, Pretty Girls

“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 . . . Karin Slaughter breaks new ground with this riveting story. 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)

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780345547507
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/27/2015
Pages: 464
Sales rank: 64,448
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About 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.

Read an Excerpt

Cop Town

A Novel

By Karin Slaughter

Random House LLC

Copyright © 2014 Karin Slaughter
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-345-54750-7




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.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Customer Reviews

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Cop Town: A Novel 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 115 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have been reading Ms. Slaughter's works for years. I have fallen hard for all of the characters in the Grant County/Will Trent series. She has such a talent for developing characters. I was curious to see how well that would work in a stand-alone book. I could not have been happier with this book. What a ride! The characters are amazingly developed. Ms. Slaughter has given us much more than a great mystery/thriller (though it is truely that also). She has really given us a peek into what life was like in the 70's in Atlanta. Racial tensions were high and some people were full of so much hate for ANYONE different (i.e. homosexuals, jewish people, blacks, etc.). There were police who abused their power for what they believed to be the Greater Good. Women were treated horibly on the job. Slaughter has captured this atmosphere thoroughly, and given us characters that we simultaneously like and dislike. Even the good guys have flaws. If you have never read any of Ms. Slaughter's work, this is a great place to start. I must warn you though, you will be hooked. If by chance you are and wish to read any more from her, I might suggest you start with the Grant County series and then on to the Will Trent Series, as she finds a way to weave the two story lines together that is beautiful. To the most wonderful Karin Slaughter: Thank you, thank you for another sleepless night. Another I could not put down. LOVED IT! Please keep them coming, for as long as you are writing, I will be buying! -- SPeeD
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I always tell my friends that they need to start reading Karin Slaughter's books.  Cop Town happens to not be part of her series, so it's a great place to jump in if you're still on the sidelines.  All of her books are fantastic..
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very thought-provoking and suspenseful. I was on the edge of my seat.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this book is one of Karin Slaughter's best.  We all know that thriller writers have different skill levels.  Some are good at plotting and some are good at characters, but it's very rare to have an author where both are at 100%.   I have read every one of Slaughter's books and I every time I finish one I always say the same thing: this is the best one yet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Karin Slaughter always delivers suspenseful and creative novels. Cop Town is no exception.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was a teenager during this era, grew up in the south in a town that was 63% black during that time and i can honestly say that the amount of violence, sexism and racism written in this book is greatly exaggerated! Very disappointed in this book!
LilMissBookmark More than 1 year ago
Everyone has that handful of authors ... the ones that are a sure thing. You know if you pick up one of their novels that you're in for a great read and you don't give it a second thought. Karin Slaughter is one of those authors for me. My mom branched out one time and read one of her novels and then when she suggested it to me, I was hooked. I used to be one of those readers who stuck to the basics: James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks, John Grisham, and Stephen King. These four authors were in my circle of trust and I NEVER read outside the circle. I was too afraid that if I picked up another author, I will have wasted my time on a bad book. I was foolish. All of those reading years, wasted on safe authors!! Well, Slaughter was really my first time betraying my circle. It was so worth it. Karin Slaughter is amazing. Her Grant County series is one of my all-time favorites. She has such a way with words and it completely draws you in. I have re-read that series alone probably ten times and I enjoyed what I've read of the Will Trent series also. Which makes what I'm about to say so much more difficult. I didn't like this one at all. I tried connecting with Cop Town and it just didn't happen. It was well written, don't get me wrong. But it failed to grab me like all of her other novels. Maybe it was because it was set in the 70's and that decade is just completely foreign to me. That sounds weird since I was born in 1980 but I've had similar issues with reading other novels from that time period. First of all, it wasn't a bad book. It was just as well written as her previous novels. It was just as well edited, thought out and researched. I found it kind entirely too easy to put down. Cop Town just didn't blow my skirt up. And I wanted to love this book. Who am I kidding, when I saw that Slaughter had a new novel out, it was like my unborn child ... I loved it before I had seen it. But the stork dropped this baby in an ugly tree before it reached its destination. Remember, this is just my take on it ... you'll probably love it like most of the people who have read it so far. It's highly rated and a ton of authors that I love have really enjoyed it. So I'm probably out of my mind and temporarily delusional ... so give it a shot and prove me wrong!
Gillian Barnard More than 1 year ago
It's rare to be transported so completely and immediately into a story. Must read!
SpecialK3 More than 1 year ago
Cop Town takes place in the 1970s, a familiar territory for those who read Slaughter's Criminal.  While that book was in the Will Trent series and featured familiar characters, Cop Town is a standalone novel and has Kate Murphy, a rookie cop on her first day, and Maggie Lawson, a woman from a family of cops (who think she should be a waitress and get married instead of being a cop)  I was really struck by how fast this book goes.  I was so immersed in the story that I didn't notice how many hours had passed, but it's time I would give up again and again.  I hope this isn't the last we see of these amazing women (and men!)
BooksnKisses More than 1 year ago
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 3 1/2 REVIEW:  Is it wrong to want to start opening fire on a whole bunch of characters? Because that is exactly how I felt just a few chapters into Cop Town. I really struggled with the setting of this story (mid-70’s in the south) and the way the men believed that they could behave. I do realize that sadly in our very short history as a country this is how things were back then. But I can honestly say that I would not have been a good lady in the south in the 70’s. I would have gotten myself in a lot of trouble. But anyways back to the review.  But as I pressed on reading Cop Town it became clear that this was a book about more than just murder. It was about the characters finding out who they are, who they are to become and who they really don’t want to be. While the beginning was a little slow and hard to stomach. Karin did an amazing job wrapping up this story with a nice little bow. If you like mystery, suspense and not afraid of a bunch of sexist, racist royal pain in the ass characters you need to pick up a copy of Cop Town. Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley & Random House Publishing Group - Bantam Dell, Delacorte Press in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
It's 1974 in Atlanta, Georgia, and the city is sharply divided by class and ethnicity.  The police force is ruled by white men and women and minorities have to fight bigotry, sexism, and "good old boy" politics.  Maggie Lawson comes from a  poor family of cops, and has been on the force for a few years.  Kate Murphy is a widowed Jewish from a rich family who is determined to make it in the world on her own.  She has just joined the force, learning the job, while experiencing humiliation and teasing from most of the other policemen.  Kate and Maggie find themselves teamed up against great odds as they branch out on their own to catch a serial police murderer.  Though I love Slaughter's writing, I found this book a little disconcerting.  I can definitely believe the bigotry of those times, but there were no nice people at all in this book, including Maggie's family, and everyone else involved in this story.  I really liked Kate the best, as she had what Jews call hutzpah - (Yiddish) unbelievable gall; insolence; audacity) , and great bravery in many difficult situations.  Calling the serial killer " the fox" throughout the story until the reveal at the end, definitely ratcheted up the terror and suspense. Good story but not one I'd want to repeat very often.  Still love Slaughter's writing though!! The audio version added another sense of reality to the story that I definitely believe added a great deal to the emotional feeling of the story.  Very well done!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too much past, mostly bad for all races! It's not that different now, you have some of the same thoughts and for me this wasn't bad, bad...nor was it good!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This one was extremely dark and not the really good novel that I expected, sadly. Oh well, you cannot hit a home run every time you come to bat! There's always the next time.
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
Cop Town is the first full-length stand-alone novel by popular American author, Karin Slaughter. Despite some changes in laws, policies and attitudes, the Atlanta Police Force in 1974 was still overwhelmingly rife with racism and sexism. It is against this background that young police patrolwoman Maggie Lawson and new recruit Kate Murphy, excluded by the boys, launch their own investigation into the murder of an Atlanta patrolman, Don Wesley. The fact that he was partnered with her brother Jimmy, at the time, gives Maggie some intriguing clues about the case, but also complicates matters. Remarkably Kate, too, stumbles on a source of information about the shooting. As they try to determine if this incident is part of the recent spate of cop killings by The Shooter, they find themselves venturing into Colored Town and visiting a very different type of club; they encounter hookers and pimps, gays and transvestites. The Shooter calls himself Fox, and it seems Fox is stalking Kate, but just who is Fox? The events of this fast-moving, action-packed novel take place over just a few days. Slaughter’s totally credible plot has quite a few twists and a heart-stopping climax. Her two main characters are multi-dimensional and engaging: Maggie tries to be a tough gal but cannot ignore her feelings for her brother; Kate turns out to be a surprisingly gutsy woman possessing hidden steel within. Slaughter’s extensive research is apparent on every page and the attitudes and values of the times are expertly depicted. As well as exploring racism and sexism, Slaughter touches on the Holocaust, the Vietnam War, the emergence of the gay culture, sexual harassment, rape and the independence of women. As Maggie succinctly sums up: “The entire world gave men the responsibility for everything in it except for their dicks”. Slaughter’s sizeable Dutch fanbase will appreciate the inclusion of some delightful Dutch characters and dialogue. Readers should be prepared for quite a bit of violence, but also lots of snappy dialogue, plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and even a bit of hot sex. Fans will, no doubt, be hoping for more of Maggie and Kate (and perhaps Gail and Jimmy and Rick too). Once again, Slaughter does not disappoint: this is a brilliant read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every time I read a Karin Slaughter book I am blown away. It always amazes me that one person can be so inbcredibly talened. This book is amazing, truly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
loved your last book,read it in one day could not put it down!!!!! please write more of your cop town.Also could you write them faster thank you in advance Thomas yakemovic
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a staunch Will Trent fan but I have to say I'm loving Philip Van Zandt.  Karin has a knack for writing about men that women can fall in love with.  Not to leave out Kate and Maggie!  They are all great characters.  The contrast between Kate and Maggie's life, and the upper and lower classes, and the social and political issues, are all bound together in a great read.  Well done!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book very much. Am a huge fan of the author.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
At first the book was slow. It took me several times to get into it but that coulda just been me. Anyway once I started I couldn’t put it down. Great book.
Booker13 More than 1 year ago
WORST BOOK IN A LONG LONG TIME...MAYBE WORST READ EVER. This book was every horrible cliche you could come up with...every horrible name for any race, and over use of the "C" word. The violence was not even necessary. NOT ONE LIKABLE CHARACTER so it made it very hard to wade through 340+ pages. This felt more like women from the 30s, 40s, 50s...NOT THE 70S...I was a woman in the 70s had children in the 70s WORKED IN THE 70S and around cops....SO THIS WAS LIKE SOMETHING OUT OF THE TWILIGHT ZONE to read. IN ALL HONESTY...NOT ONE REDEEMING FACTOR COULD I FIND IN THIS READ. If I had not paid for the damn thing I would have just deleted it and moved on. THIS IS NOW 2 STRIKES ON THIS AUTHOR...THIS AINT BASEBALL, SO THIS AUTHOR IS OUT. There are too many good authors to waste my time and money. The continued negative names and blatant OVERLY BIGOTED WRITING took away any entertaining factor. I AM REALLY TIRED OF BUYING BOOKS WITH GREAT REVIEWS FROM B&N. I BELIEVE THESE ARE FAKED REVIEWED BY FAMILY/FRIENDS. IN re-reading some of the verbiage is too similar to not be the same people. I PAID good money on this. if you were looking for a book that was sterotyped to the hilt...this is for you...from everything NEGATIVE you have in your mind about JEWS/KIKES...IT IS THERE...FOR EVERY RACE...SHE NAMES THEM ALL IN THE MOST DEROGATORY WAY POSSIBLE. POSSIBLE THIS BOOK WAS BROUGHT BACK OUT TO FEED INTO THE NEGATIVE ATTITUDE TOWARD POLICE??? GUESS WHAT...IT COULD WORK BECAUSE THERE IS NO REASON AFTER READING THIS TO LIKE COPS, TRUST COPS OR BELIEVE COPS... SO WELL DONE IF YOUR GOAL WAS TO SHOW THAT WAYYYYYYYYYYYYY BACK IN THE 70S COPS WERE HORRIBLE, BIGOTED, RACIST, KILLING, RAPING MACHINES...YOU WIN.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Didn't like this book as much as others that I read by author . It does get better further in the book and it has an interesting ending.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have read in a long time. Of course, I am a die-hard Karin Slaughter fan and read all her books . I could not put this book down; read it in record time . The 70's was my era, so I relate to the story. Very well written. Only one of a few books that I would again in a few years.