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The Good Daughter – Karin Slaughter





Two girls are forced into the woods at gunpoint. One runs for her life. One is left behind…

Twenty-eight years ago, Charlotte and Samantha Quinn’s happy smalltown family life was torn apart by a terrifying attack on their family home. It left their mother dead. It left their father – Pikeville’s notorious defence attorney – devastated. And it left the family fractured beyond repair, consumed by secrets from that terrible night.

Twenty-eight years later, and Charlie has followed in her father’s footsteps to become a lawyer herself – the archetypal good daughter. But when violence comes to Pikeville again – and a shocking tragedy leaves the whole town traumatised – Charlie is plunged into a nightmare. Not only is she the first witness on the scene, but it’s a case which can’t help triggering the terrible memories she’s spent so long trying to suppress. Because the shocking truth about the crime which destroyed her family nearly thirty years ago won’t stay buried for ever…


I’m almost ashamed to say this is the first Karin Slaughter book I have read. I have friends who are big fans of her novels. They’ve recommended her books to me several times. I should have listened to them! I got completely engrossed in this one.

In The Good Daughter a family are torn apart by a brutal and terrifying attack on their home. The mother is shot dead, the father, a criminal defence lawyer, who wasn’t at home, is left devastated. One teenage daughter is left mentally broken, the other physically broken.

Twenty eight years later one of the daughters, Charlotte, finds herself first on the scene of another horrendous attack that affects the whole town, this time a school shooting. Two people are dead, one of them a child, and a 16 year old Goth, Kelly Wilson is sitting with a revolver in her hand. The sight and sound of the horrific shooting triggers flashbacks to Charlotte’s mother’s murder and the terrible assault she and her sister suffered.

Charlotte is a defence lawyer like her father but although they work in the same building she does not work for her father. And she doesn’t take on the same type of cases. Unlike her sister, she has a some kind of relationship with her father. She’s remained in Pikeville because her husband Ben, an assistant district attorney, liked it there, although they have been separated for several months.

Her father Rusty, takes on Kelly Wilson’s case. He’s quite a complex character. He always does what he thinks is right but he takes risks.  He is assisted by his long term secretary Lenore who is quite a character too. He also manages to get Charlotte to help him with the early formalities of Kelly Wilson’s defence. He isn’t particularly popular around town as he believes in justice for all and will represent anyone accused, no matter how awful the alleged crime.  A lot of people hate him for the cases he takes on.  At the time of his wife’s murder, the the family had recently been forced to move to another property following an arson attack on their home.

Meanwhile Samantha, the older sister, is a very successful patent lawyer living in New York but she struggles physically with problems that are a direct result of her injuries sustained in the first attack. She has no contact with her father or sister and knows nothing of what is going on in their lives. Although her father sends her a regular voicemail, she never responds. She’s never returned to Pikeville even when her business takes her within 2 hours drive of the town.

It’s a wonderful, multi-layered plot about two sisters with completely different characters, whose lives were changed and the family destroyed when their home was attacked, and their relationship (or non-relationship) with each other and their father.  Both sisters are lawyers but practising in different areas of law.

It’s a dark and brutal story. It’s full of interesting characters and is never boring. The author brilliantly weaves an engrossing story linking two brutal attacks twenty eight years apart.  How are they linked? Apart from Charlotte being present both times, are they linked?

I like that both girls’ stories are told from each one’s point of view both in the past and the present. There are chapters headed, “What happened to Samantha”, “What happened to Charlotte” and “What really happened to Charlie.” I feel it’s an interesting device. I was slightly confused at first and had a feeling of deja vu as I knew I had read that part before, but for me it works.  You read about a brutal, life-changing attack; then when you come across it again later in the book (almost identical words but with differences) the attack is even worse than you first thought. It certainly ramps up the tension and fear.

When the father ends up in hospital again with serious stab wounds, thought to be because he was representing the teenage school shooter in court, Charlotte who was already fragile, just can’t cope. Her husband makes contact with Samantha and there is an attempt at some kind of reconciliation between the sisters. There are some recriminations and words but they end up investigating the school shooting case on their father’s behalf. That is definitely not the end of the story.  There are a few twists leading ultimately to a shocking revelation. I really didn’t see that ending coming.

For me, this book definitely gets 5 stars.

The Good Daughter is available now in hardcover and eBook.

[My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy in exchange for an honest review]


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