During the month of January, I’ve been taking part in Southern Literature Month hosted by Brooke. As I grew up in the South, I have a lot of nostalgia for it and enjoy books that capture the people and culture that is unique to this area of the U.S. I like reading books with Southern characters and places that are familiar to me, and Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent series of crime novels is a good example.
I read the first book in the series, Triptych, last year on the recommendation of a friend, and I’ve been unable to put them down ever since. I don’t normally read books in the crime genre, but Slaughter is such a good writer that she makes even the parts that are hard to read (and there is some very dark material) seem necessary to understanding the context of the story and the motivations of the characters.
The main character, Will Trent, is an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and a bit of a mystery as the series begins. As we learn more about his past, certain aspects of his personality start to make more sense. Having now read all the books in the series to date, I feel like I really understand Will as a person. He is a big, tough cop and yet a complete underdog in many ways, and for that reason he is an easy character to love.
The other main characters–Will’s partner, his girlfriend, and his boss at the GBI–are all strong females, which is a particular weakness of mine. Although not always easy to like, the character of Amanda Wagner (Will’s boss) is a brilliant creation on the part of Slaughter. My favorite book in the series, Criminal, goes back in time to tell the story of how Amanda first started out in law enforcement, at a time when female police officers were generally relegated to crossing guard duty and kept away from crime scenes. It’s a fascinating look at Atlanta in the 1970’s.
Which brings me to the Southern Literature connection. All of the books in the series take place in Georgia, and most of them are set in Atlanta. It’s obvious that Slaughter is a native as she describes the setting in a way that was instantly familiar to me. She knows the town, how it works and the kinds of people who inhabit it. Slaughter also has another series that takes place in fictional Grant County, Georgia, and I hope to read these books soon and experience her take on a southern Georgia country setting.
I recommend this series if you enjoy crime novels and want to get a glimpse of law enforcement in the South, but especially if you like well-drawn, damaged but ultimately tough as nails characters.