The Good Daughter
by Karin Slaughter bares no bones.
This emotional crime mystery delves into family, grief, regret,
and guilt. Known for not sugar coating the violence the story
is dark and graphic, but this only adds to its intensity.
A line from the book, "a never-ending sphere," best
describes the plot. The events of past and present are circular
in motion, occurring twenty-eight years apart. During the
course of the novel, the horrific attack on the Quinn family
is revisited a number of times, with the two sisters, Charlie
and Sam, alternating their views of the incident.
The reason for the repetition, according
to Slaughter, "That line from the book, "a never-ending
sphere," shows how circular life is. Charlie stops her
story because she is avoiding what happened to her. If you
notice the first time she tells it the emphasis is on how
others were impacted, not herself. I wanted to echo back with
the point; you really cannot escape your past. You can learn
to deal with it, but should not let it hold you hostage."
On that horrible day, the sisters' life changed
forever. Charlie and Sam were at home with their mother, Gamma,
when two masked men entered the house. They shot Gamma dead,
pushed out Sam's eyelids, shot her in the head, and buried
her alive. As Charlie tried to escape she had to endure a
horrific attack as well. These assaults occurred because of
their dad, Rusty, defended the most evil of characters.
Slaughter used her own personal experiences
to write the scenes about head injuries. “I toured military
bases with the author Lisa Gardner and saw those kinds of
injuries. Also, the husband of a friend of mine flipped head
first over the bike handlebars. He became brain damaged. When
I spoke with my friend, his wife, she talked about their struggles.
This is why I put in the quote, ‘Sam often compared
her first year of recovery to a record on an old turntable.
She awoke at the hospital with everything playing at the wrong
speed.’ Sam knew what she was and knew what her life
would be like from that point onward. It can be even more
psychologically scarring for people who are cognizant of what
Fast-forward twenty-eight years later with the family torn
apart. Sam has moved away to NYC, becoming a successful patent
lawyer. Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps,
becoming a defense attorney; although she only takes clients
she believes are innocent or being over-charged for a minor
crime. Having stayed in the town where she grew up she is
still struggling with her demons, which is the reason behind
why her husband is now estranged.
Trying to escape she decides to have a one-night-stand with
Huck, a stranger, and while leaving mistakenly took his phone.
During the process of exchanging phones at her old school,
where Huck works, all hell lets loose. Charlie finds herself
in a nightmarish situation. She is the first witness on the
scene in the midst of a distressing double school shooting
that includes a young child. She later discovers the shooter,
Kelly, has learning issues. The incident also unleashes the
terrible memories she's spent so long trying to suppress.
The only one able to get her out of her fog is Sam, who returns
to face her own anxieties. The sisters must work together
to find the answers to the past and present events as they
attempt to heal their relationship.
Grieving can be very personal and Slaughter shows the many
facets of it. "I do not think all people grieve in the
same way. Charlie was in denial, while Sam deals with it head
on. Every morning Sam wakes up and is faced with what happened,
but has learned how to deal with it. Yet, Charlie looks back
on her life and realizes she is not the person she hoped to
be. This makes her miserable. She keeps doing the same thing
and it is not working, but never self-reflects. Rusty, on
the other hand, damages himself by taking on more dangerous
cases, drinks too much, and smokes too much, despite having
a major heart attack."
Readers will need to have their wits about
them when reading this suspenseful mystery. It is a very much
character driven plot where everyone will go through the heartache
with the sisters. Beyond the violent crime, the story is about
loss, love, survival, and forgiveness.
Reviews of other series by the author
Faint Cold Fear #3