Review of Fallen by Karin Slaughter
This book starts out with Special Agent Faith Mitchell of the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI) leaving a training that ran an hour and a half late. She's on her way to pick up her infant daughter from her mother's house, but when she tries to call her mom, she isn't able to get in touch with her. While this is out of the ordinary for her super tech-connected mom, she tries to put her concerns out of mind. But when she gets to her mother's house, she walks into a nightmarish scene. Her mother's car is there, but music her mother would never listen to is blasting from the house ... and cuts off once Faith gets out of the car. The door is slightly ajar, and there's a bloody handprint on the door. Her infant daughter is locked in her mother's shed next to the safe that stores her mother's gun, but the safe is open and the gun is missing.
The Plot Thickens
Being the well-trained cop that she is, Faith calls 911 and reports what she has observed. She is told that backup is on the way and to wait outside. But if you've read any of the Will Trent books, you already know that Faith has more than a little streak of rebelliousness. So of course she goes inside with her service weapons. She finds one man already dead in the laundry room. She finds a second man being held hostage by a third man in her mother's bedroom, but her mother is nowhere to be found. By the time backup arrives, Faith has more questions than answers, and she has now become not just a witness to the carnage in the house, but also a suspect. Her hands are tied from assisting in this investigation, and she is forced to watch from the sidelines and rely on Will Trent (her partner), Amanda Wagner (the deputy director of the GBI) and Dr. Sara Linton (an emergency room doctor at a local hospital who has helped out on previous cases) to help her solve this and get her mother back ... if she's even still alive.
But Wait, There's More!
Naturally, while all this is going on, the simmering sexual tension between Will and Sara is ongoing, along with occasional cameos from Angie Polaski. This is the former cop who has known Will since childhood, married him on a dare, and shows up periodically only to verbally abuse Will, play with his emotions, and leave again for months on end. She's basically the character you love to hate.
While each of the books in the series could theoretically be read individually, they make more sense when read in order. I know this from my own personal experience. All of the major characters, and quite a few minor characters play recurring roles in each book. While the characters are well-developed in each individual book, they make much more sense when the books are read as a series. The main characters are the same in all of the books. Here's a listing of the main characters, with a bit of information about each.
Will Trent: Obviously the most prominent character, as the series is named for him. Will is a Special Agent with the GBI. He grew up in care of the state of Georgia since he was an infant. He was shuffled between state care and various foster care families, many of which were abusive. He still carries many physical scars on his body, most of which he is able to cover by wearing concealing clothing even in the hottest and most humid weather. His emotional scars are harder to hide. Will was always under the assumption that he was stupid, since that's what he was told throughout his childhood. However, he was suffering from a severe case of dyslexia that he was unaware of until college. Regardless, he beat the odds and did not become a criminal. He was recruited into the GBI after completing college, and despite his difficulty reading and writing, has distinguished himself through his incredible ability to read people and crime scenes like no one's business.
Amanda Wagner: Deputy Director of the GBI. She's a tough lady who doesn't take any lip from anyone. She'll stand up to anyone at anytime, and isn't used to getting any resistance. She isn't always nice to Will, but she has his back in a heartbeat. She's well known for being evasive when asked questions, especially when Will is asking the questions, and is often ten steps ahead of everyone else. She came up through the ranks of the Atlanta Police Department when female officers were rare on the force, and were expected to be personal assistants to their male peers. Probably explains a lot about why she is the way she is.
Faith Mitchell: Another strong woman who rose up through the ranks of the Atlanta Police Department. She worked on the force as a beat cop until her promotion to detective, and while she earned her promotion, it was often questioned by her peers due to her mother's status on the force as a police captain. She originally hated Will because he investigated corruption among detectives that her mother had overseen which eventually led to Faith's mother retiring rather than being charged and losing her pension and benefits. Faith was teamed up with Will early in the series and his calm and charming demeanor, along with his incredible investigative skills had eventually earned her respect. After that case had wrapped up, Faith was recruited to the GBI and has been Will's partner ever since.
Evelyn Mitchell: Faith's mother, and the aforementioned police captain in retirement. Her house is the crime scene that is the center of the opening scene in the book, and her whereabouts are unknown. Just like everyone else in the series, she has some secrets. Like most secrets, they eventually come to light at the worst possible time.
Angie Polaski/Trent: Angie is a former vice cop from Atlanta Police Department. Like Will, she grew up in state care as well, along with foster homes as well, some good, some not. She struggles with her own demons, but it seems like she welcomes them more often than not. She also seems to enjoy emotionally and verbally torturing Will. She has been the most constant thing in his life, having known him since he was 8 years old. She married him on a dare, but left shortly after they were wed. She doesn't say much about where she goes or what she does when she leaves. Angie's character is probably the one we know the least about.
Sara Linton: Sara is a medical doctor who works at Grady Hospital, the only level 1 trauma center in Atlanta. She is from Grant County, a rural area outside of Atlanta. She previously worked as a pediatrician in her hometown, and also as the medical examiner. Sara was married to the chief of police, Jeffrey Tolliver, until he was killed in the line of duty. She was there when he died, and took it extremely hard. After more than a year, she accepted her current position at Grady Hospital and moved to Atlanta. Sara liked the job because it kept her too busy to think about anything other than her work, until Will came into the picture.
Link to the Book
My Own Feelings About This Series
Each book in this series makes me love it more.
I have been enjoying this series more and more over time, and I especially love how Karin Slaughter dribbles little pieces of the backstory of each of the main characters over the course of the series. We get the basics, and each of the characters are well-developed enough to make you empathize (well, all except Angie), but you learn more about their background as time goes on. I accidentally started this series at number 8 (The Kept Woman), which provides a significant portion of Angie's backstory. I still despise her, but it's just enough information to show that she is somewhat human. I'm definitely looking forward to the rest of the books in the series.
I'd love to hear your thoughts about the book or series!
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