Skin Privilege by Karin Slaughter

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Skin Privilege by Karin Slaughter

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Kerry King
Reviewed by Kerry King
Summary: The next instalment in the lives of Jeffrey Tolliver, Sara Linton and Lena Adams; if you have not read the other novels in the Grant County series, I would recommend you read those first rather than start here. Skin Privilege is a dark, stunning and brutal tale of small town America and its strange inhabitants.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 416 Date: July 2007
Publisher: Century
ISBN: 978-1844138586

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Lena Adams is a tough, hard-headed cop with an unorthodox and at times, violent and cruel past that she has worked long and hard to escape. Jeffrey Tolliver is her boss, the Chief of Police of Heartsdale, a small town in Grant County; the only man she has ever truly trusted and the only person who has ever believed in her. When Jeffrey receives a call to say that his detective is currently in a hospital bed in the nearby town of Reece but also in custody on suspicion of murder, Jeffrey and his wife, Heartdale's medical examiner and only doctor, Sara Linton, quickly go to her aid.

They find Lena in restraints, a lot the worse for wear and to their astonishment, utterly terrified. Lena begs then threatens in an attempt to get Jeffrey and Sara to leave town. Her behaviour is so bizarre that Jeffrey is immediately suspicious of Lena's motives. What could make Lena so afraid that she would shun the people who care for her the most? What happened to her in the hours before Jeffrey and Sara arrived that she could be so bloodied and bruised? It is only when Lena manages to escape her bonds and flee the hospital and police custody, Jeffrey realises his instincts were correct and the search to find Lena Adams and the truth about what happened to her, is on

Thick with characters, sub-plots and flickering time frames, the story is often confusing with a few too many twists and turns. Frustratingly, I had to stop in my tracks more than once to go back through the chapter headings and re-establish the time frame. Slaughter frequently employs a converging timeline technique to her writing and whilst this seems to work for the most part in her previous Grant County novels, you would be well advised to have read all of them recently and then go on to read this book in one hit, rather than graze at it or buy it as a new reader of Slaughter's work. Moreover, it seems I am among many reviewers of this novel who found this, which made me feel slightly better although you should know that I make a point of never reading any reviews of books until after I have read them. I have always felt there is no need for a jaundiced eye to be cast over a fresh piece of writing, preferring to make my own judgments.

Nonetheless, Karin Slaughter is an excellent storyteller. I took pleasure in re-discovering these characters and enjoyed the more fully fleshed version of Lena that this tale presented. Skin Privilege certainly filled in the many gaps that existed prior to its reading and for that alone I was sated.

The concluding third of the story built at an alacritous lick, squeezing me through the final warp of the plot, propelling me into an ultimate scenario that I should have been able to see, given the hints that Slaughter dropped throughout the story. This did not make the ending any less stunning and disconcerting; quite the opposite! I was staggered and largely because I could not understand the reason for the turn in the tale and its relevance to this story. Maybe Slaughter is keeping her cards close to her chest on this one and we will find out why in the next instalment of the Grant County novels?

I guess I will just have to get it and find out!

If you enjoy Karin Slaughter's other works, such as Indelible and Blindsighted, you may also like Linda Fairstein's The Deadhouse or Cold Hit as Linda also writes serially or if you want to get away from the instalment novel, try Nicci French's Losing You.

Lastly, a big thank you to the folks at Century Random House for sending Skin Privilege to Bookbag. We also have a review of The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter.

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Buy Skin Privilege by Karin Slaughter at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Skin Privilege by Karin Slaughter at


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