Review: ‘The Last Widow’ by Karin Slaughter ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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Michelle felt her mouth drop open.

A van slid to a stop besides her daughter.The side door rolled open.

A man jumped out.

Michelle gripped her keys. She bolted into a full-ou run, cutting the distance between herself and her daughter. She started to scream, but it was too late.

Ashley had run off, just like they had taught her to do. Which was fine, because the man did not want Ashley.

He wanted Michelle.

Thank you to HarperCollins UK, Netgalley and Karin Slaughter for the chance to read this novel in exchange for an honest review.

An exciting, absorbing and frighteningly real thriller, this novel is an example of why Ms Slaughter is one of the world’s most acclaimed authors.

Told in the third person with multiple narrators, the story begins with the abduction of Michelle Spivey in a shopping centre car park. It then jumps forward to a month later and the rest of the book takes place over a tense three days.

Two explosions rock the Emory University Campus. Will Trent, a special agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and girlfriend Sara Linton, a doctor and medical examiner with the GBI, race to help after feeling the earth shake and seeing the plumes of smoke rise. On their way there they come across a car accident and stop to help. Too late they realise these aren’t innocent victims, they’re part of the team who attacked the campus. Not only that but with them is Michelle Spivey who is terrified and bleeding. In the ensuing fight Will is seriously injured and Sara is taken.

But why is the FBI so tight lipped about what they know? What are the Independent Patriot Army planning? Why do they need Michelle, a scientist with the Centres for Disease Control? Finding themselves embroiled in the complex case, the team race against the clock to save Sara, rescue Michelle, and prevent whatever atrocity the IPA has planned.

Wow! I needed some time to catch my breath after finishing this book. It was quite a ride. The multilayered plot deals with topical threats and issues that give the book an added sense of realism and made it a chilling read.

The characters were well written and very real. I loved Sara, Will and Faith and thought they each added different but complementary aspects to the story. The relationship between Sara and Will helped create an extra layer of desperation and tension that I enjoyed too. When it comes to protagonists Dash and Gwen are two of the most despicable people I’ve read. Their callous, cruel, deluded and reprehensible actions and beliefs made them hard to read at times but also very real. They are exactly the kind of people you can believe would get caught up in such cowardly and heinous acts. The ones I felt pity for were their children and the young, vulnerable people they’d manage to convince to follow them and were entangled in things they didn’t really understand.

When I requested this book I didn’t realise it was part of the Will Trent series, which I’d heard of but never got around to reading. Despite not having read the previous eight books in the series I never felt like I was missing anything as there is enough backstory given that you understand the relationships and what has led to this point in the character’s stories. That being said, I would no doubt have had a deeper understanding of the characters and past events if I’d read the other books and reading this has made me even more eager to read the series from the start.

The Last Widow is expertly written and thoroughly researched. It is a story told with candor and a spectacular, absorbing, eye-opening, intelligent and affecting thriller. Despite the dark and serious topics there is humour woven throughout the book and there were many scenes that had me laughing out loud, as well as ones that were harrowing and heartbreaking. I raced through this book and found myself unable to tear myself away. I was desperate to discover the answers to my questions and see how it would end.

I have been a fan of Karin Slaughter since I read Blindsighted many years ago, but I haven’t read any of her books in a while. This book reminded me why I love her work and I now want to read everything she’s written as soon as possible.

Published June 13th