HarperCollins | 2019 (13 June) | 448p | Review copy | Buy the book
Michelle Pivey is out shopping with her daughter when a van comes to a stop right next to the young girl. As she’d been taught to do, the girl runs for her life. But the man doesn’t go after her. It’s Michelle he wants. A month later, Will Trent, an agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, is having lunch with his girlfriend, medical examiner Sara Linton, and her family when the peace is shattered by the explosions of bombs.
Will and Trent run towards the sirens, stumbling across a road accident, with men injured, others acting suspiciously. Sara is grabbed. Sara’s family is desperate. Will feels both guilt and rage. He will do whatever he can to recover Sara but to do that he must go undercover. He will come up against a radical group, who live hidden away in the Appalachian mountains, plotting the end. Michelle Pivey, it seems is a scientist with the highest clearance at the Centre for Disease Control. The clock is ticking.
The Last Widow is the ninth novel in Karin Slaughter’s Will Trent series. Although I’ve read some of the author’s excellent stand alone books, this is the first Trent novel I’ve read. And so I read it as another stand alone mystery and there was no problem with that at all. The character of Will, and his situation, is so skilfully and thoroughly brought to life that it didn’t matter at all that I’d missed his past life up until now. There is one case from Will’s past, though, that is still on his mind as the court date draws nearer.
I was immersed in The Last Widow from the thrilling opening couple of chapters. The pace then does slow for a short while and that’s largely because the novel alternates chapters between the viewpoints of Will and Sara. While they’re together at the start of the book we’re given chapters which present the same events twice. But once Sara has been snatched and Will goes after her the two perspectives separate and follow their own paths at an exhilarating rate.
So for half of the time we’re with Will going undercover with all of the tension and anxiety you’d expect, whereas the other half follows Sara’s experiences in this extraordinary and lethal environment where one false word could lead to her death. Sara is now living on eggshells. Any moment it could all blow up. Will’s demons, however, are on the inside.
There are sinister undertones as Sara and Will learn more about the man in charge of the men who snatched her. This does lead us into dark territory and the reader is soon very concerned for the innocent. This is superb storytelling. Characters are not just black and white. Evil can hide. It isn’t easily overcome.
The Last Widow is a very good book indeed. It is thoroughly exciting and engrossing, as well as disturbing and shocking, and events are overshadowed by the dread of whatever it is that the kidnapper might be planning in his sinister camp, hidden away from the modern world. The character portraits – of the good and the evil – are excellent. I read The Last Widow in two sittings and most of it in one go. I couldn’t have been more caught up in these lives. Having read Karin Slaughter’s last three novels, I’m well and truly hooked.
I’m delighted to post my review of this wonderful novel as part of the blog tour. For other stops on the tour, please do take a look at the poster below.