Karin Slaughter is once again at the top of her game with The Silent Wife, the tenth installment in her Will Trent series. Spending time with these characters is a highlight of my reading life, and this latest release is one of the best in this long-running series.
Before I go into the specifics of the plot, I want to let readers know that the Will Trent series intertwines with the author’s Grant County series. Dr. Sara Linton, Will Trent’s love interest and a major player in this story, was first introduced way back in Blindsight, the first volume of Grant County. As a result, this review does contain spoilers for previous installments in both series, so read on at your own discretion. For a full understanding of this universe, I recommend potential readers start at the very beginning. It’s a big commitment, but these books aren’t likely to disappoint you.
Special agent Will Trent is investigating the fallout of a prison riot when he is approached by an inmate with a strange tale to tell. Eight years earlier, a college student was found raped, beaten, and left for dead in the woods. At the time, local police were pretty sure they knew who was to blame for the crime, and after what could be called a slipshod investigation, someone was convicted and put behind bars. Now though, another body has been found, and Will’s contact, who happens to be the man accused of the earlier crime, has a vested interest in finding out who is responsible. Ever since the police first questioned him, he’s sworn he had nothing to do with what happened, but as is often the case, he was not believed. He’s hoping that Will and his team will be able to find out who is responsible so he can be released from prison once and for all.
As you might imagine, Will is initially skeptical of this man’s claims. After all, doesn’t everyone in prison claim to be innocent? However, after he begins looking into the old case, he begins to understand that the initial investigation had some serious flaws, flaws that can be laid squarely at the feet of Jeffrey Tolliver, Sara Linton’s long-dead husband, the former police chief of Grant County. Suddenly, Will and Sara find themselves involved in a deadly game of cat and mouse with a sadistic killer, someone who has managed to kill undetected for nearly a decade, someone who will do whatever he deems necessary to keep killing.
If you’re familiar with Slaughter’s writing, you’ll know she doesn’t pull any punches when it comes to violence and gore. If you’re even the slightest bit squeamish, you might want to skip this book since there are quite a few graphic descriptions of death, assault, and police misconduct. I could feel my stomach flip a little during some of the more gruesome scenes, and I’m usually not overly sensitive to this type of thing in my reading. Mysteries and thrillers are some of my favorite things to read, so I’ve gotten used to a fair amount of dark content, but I know this level of violence is not for everyone.
The novel’s timeline is a little confusing, but if you give yourself a little bit of time to settle into it, you shouldn’t have too much trouble keeping things straight. The story moves back and forth in time between present day and eight years previously, when the first victim was found. We see things mostly through the eyes of Will and Sara, but we also get to see Jeffrey’s point of view which might be a little disconcerting if you don’t pay attention to the timeline.
First and foremost, this is a mystery, but the relationship between Will and Sara is a huge part of the story. They’re deeply in love, but they’re each struggling with some complicated situations that make it difficult for them to let down their guards. I never questioned their love for one another, but I did find myself wondering if they would be able to work through their issues in a way that would leave them open to continuing their relationship.
The Silent Wife is a long book, but don’t let its length intimidate you. Once I started, I didn’t want to put it down, and I ended up finishing it in less than a day. The pacing is pretty close to perfect, and I was super invested in the story.
There’s not much more I can say without spoiling it for you, so I’ll simply urge you to pick it up as soon as you possibly can. It really is one of the author’s best works.
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