Probably one of my 2015 Top Ten Reads. I finished "Cop Town" this morning, which meant putting aside all important tasks so I could work my way through nearly 100 pages to the book's explosive ending. Surprisingly, this wasn't the twistiest thriller I've ever read? Nor was the "bad guy" the most interesting I've come across in the suspense genre. Still, I could not put the book down.
Slaughter is a master of character development, and she tends to lean towards creating multifaceted characters who spend her novels struggling with their own inner demons as they face the worst evils of society. This is a common thread through both her Grant County and Will Trent books. So it's not surprising to see it in this stand-alone novel.
"Cop Town" is by far the grittiest, most gut-wrenching book I've read from her. In it, Slaughter explores the integration of women into the Atlanta Police Department in the 1970s. I know she did a lot of research and that the story she wrote is a strong reflection of the times that were. And man, were they awful. The male cops were chauvinists, and the racism and homophobia of the time was enough to scare anyone from the police force. I can't imagine what drove women to want to work in such a hostile environment, or where they found the strength to stick it out. But I am grateful for what they went through. Thankful to those who stuck it out and didn't give up, despite repeatedly having the door slammed in their faces.
I won't delve into the plot too much; it's certainly highly engaging. But ultimately this book's most intriguing feature is the women in it. Maggie Lawson and Kate Murphy, the novel's protagonists, are some bad-ass women. (I also have a special appreciation for the tough-as-nails, Gail Patterson, who added a surprising blend of horror and humor to the story). I am happy that Slaughter didn't make any of these ladies saints. They're flawed and not always terribly likable, but that certainly made for a more interesting read because they weren't always making the "right" decisions. Slaughter's subtle exploration of women's relationships, particularly in the work place, was also quite fascinating. There was a lot of backstabbing, but also many surprisingly touching moments when Slaughter illustrated how the women managed to work as a team to survive the harshness of their workplace.
I don't know if Slaughter intends for this to be a series, but I wouldn't mind following them on some more of their adventures.