Karin Slaughter writes entertaining mysteries. She writes thrillers. Often her books are page-turning and suspenseful. UNSEEN, the seventh book in the Will Trent series is no different. It starts off gripping with some action sequences that had me turning pages. Obviously, I didn’t have a problem with being hooked into the story immediately. I can usually count on her to do that (most of the time). This review mentions events in earlier novels so read with caution. Also, I asked to read this title and received an electronic copy from the publisher.
The first couple of chapters in UNSEEN show Detective Lena Adams of the Macon PD leading her team during a raid on a shooting gallery. The intelligence that brought them there is kind of shaky. What they find in the house is not what any of them expected. What happens during the raid and the aftermath of it unfolds in flashbacks.
A bit later we see GBI agent, Will Trent, working undercover as a con, going by the alias of Bill Black. He’s been in Macon, Ga, for ten days trying to find a major drug dealer who goes by “Big Whitey.” He’s cop killer. As if that’s not enough, he’s also into kidnapping, white slavery, prostitution and pedophilia. The Macon PD doesn’t believe “Big Whitey” exists. Well, most of them don’t believe he exists. He’s just someone people talk about or refer to but no one has ever seen him. The lack of identity doesn’t stop a couple of police officers from investigating off the book though. Big Whitey’s identity remained a big secret until the big reveal. That was one part of the mystery. The other part of the mystery had to do with the raid that Lena led that caused two people on her team to be injured and has Internal Affairs wanting to speak with her.
The author continues to write about urban crime. There’s the usual corruption and office politics. There’s the tension filled exchanges between the state and the local authorities. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation aka the GBI takes over when there is a kidnapping or drug trafficking case. For other low level crimes, they can only be invited to help. Will’s partner, Faith Mitchell, returns as does the ball busting sixty? year old Deputy Director of the GBI, Amanda Wagner. There’s a hilarious scene in here with Amanda Wagner using Skype to attend an emergency meeting. Everyone is unnerved looking at a younger picture of her splashed across the screen in a tennis outfit.
This novel is also about addressing the past and is about absolution. Lena Adams and Sara Linton have a history that spills over into this book (see Blindsighted). Their confrontation was one of the highlights for me. Sara works in Atlanta now but she finds her way back to Macon and when she sees Lena, the cold bitterness she has toward Lena resurfaces. Sara still blames Lena for her husband’s death. No surprises there. At any rate, I felt that their storyline and its resolution ended in a good place.
I have nothing but praise for the deft characterizations and the pacing. However, I am not a fan of the flashbacks. Karin Slaughter seems to use them a lot lately. While the novel is full of twists and surprises, they were not necessarily good surprises for me. For starters, I didn’t think that the crime fitted the people who are said to be involved. Next problem I had was with Sara Linton. I consider her to be a civilian. She’s no longer a cop’s wife. I felt that details of the investigation shouldn’t have been shared with her. But this is fiction after all. Another big problem was the romance in here. While I find romance in mysteries a bonus, I found the romance in here problematic. Will Trent is undercover on assignment but all he could think about was Sara. His worry over losing her because he has been lying to her about his being in Macon, Ga was incredulous and out-of-place.
Anyway, this post is already too long and I didn’t mean to ramble. I enjoyed UNSEEN. The parts I enjoyed kind of made me overlook the parts that caused me problems. I think I can live with the pairing of Will and Sara. I think. I enjoyed Lena Adams return to the series. I actually prefer her to Sara Linton. Lena has had strife and we see she’s been having issues when we meet her in this story. Lena’s a survivor though and just like a phoenix she keeps rising from the ashes. I think she’s a great character. To put a letter grade on this story, I am going with a B- with the summation of: entertaining novel that sometimes pushed hard against credibility. The flashbacks with the raid was the weakest part of the story. Overall, a quick beach read. This book is due out July 2.
Note: Please forgive any errors you see. I’m sure to fix them after this is published