Page Count 400
Publication date June 2021
Publisher Harper Collins
AN ORDINARY LIFE …
Leigh Coulton has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She has a good job as a defence attorney, a daughter doing well in school, and even her divorce is relatively civilised – her life is just as unremarkable as she’d always hoped it would be.
HIDES A DEVASTATING PAST …
But Leigh’s ordinary life masks a childhood which was far from average … a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and finally torn apart by a devastating act of violence.
BUT NOW THE PAST IS CATCHING UP …
Then a case lands on her desk – defending a wealthy man accused of rape. It’s the highest profile case she’s ever been given – a case which could transform her career, if she wins. But when she meets the accused, she realises that it’s no coincidence that he’s chosen her as his attorney. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he knows what happened twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades running.
AND TIME IS RUNNING OUT.
If she can’t get him acquitted, she’ll lose much more than the case. The only person who can help her is her younger, estranged sister Calli, the last person Leigh would ever want to ask for help. But suddenly she has no choice …
Anyone who’s read a Karin Slaughter novel before will know well that they all need a blaring siren for a trigger warning. Abuse of all kinds and brutal violence are the backbone of her thrillers and False Witness is no exception, you’ll need a cast iron stomach.
I’m a die hard fan of the Atlanta/Grant County series but False Witness is another stand alone novel. Centred around two sisters, Callie and Leigh, the story is told from their POVs in a dual timeline, before and after the event that destroyed their lives.
Slaughter gripped me immediately with a shocking misdirection and from there I could not put this book down! Nobody writes an antagonist quite like she does, the unflinching examination of psychological torture cuts even deeper than the violent scenes described.
The most remarkable thing about Slaughter’s writing is the depth of emotions she wrenches out of me. My cold dark heart shed a few tears over False Witness– specifically an unexpected scene with an elderly veterinarian, now that part is a real gut punch. There’s a perfectly executed balance of both the best and worst of humanity in this novel. For all the evil and abuse there is as much love, innocence and loyalty to be found amongst the pages.
As I’ve mentioned in previous Slaughter reviews the truly horrific scenes are always written past tense during the protagonist’s discovery, I’m quite sure I couldn’t handle a present tense first person account of such atrocities.
The heinous events elicit a visceral reaction to the perpetrator and endear the reader to the saviour in the scenario which in this case is Leigh, a defense attorney. But this time there’s a catch, this time our protagonist isn’t the hero we might expect.
Now Leigh has to strive to defend Andrew, a man she knows is guilty, whilst protecting herself and her sister from a terrible secret that only the three of them know. The risks are insurmountable, how will she save her career, her sister, her LIFE without freeing a violent rapist?
False Witness is set in the present and so Covid 19 is carefully incorporated. It isn’t a focal point and feels as natural as putting on your mask to leave the house. If you’re looking for escapism you won’t find it here, I also highly recommend looking up trigger warnings (or feel free to message me for info).
As always with Karin Slaughter this is a definite five star from me, a perfect way to test the waters with a standalone novel for those who haven’t yet tried her long running series.
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Have you read False Witness yet? What did you think? Do you have a favourite Slaughter title? Drop me a comment