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)
|Publisher:||Random House Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
By Karin Slaughter
Random House LLCCopyright © 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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