The Good Daughter is a psychological thriller with enough moral complexity to make Foucault scratch his head.
For most crime novels there’s a fine line between a storyline being complicated and compelling; Karin Slaughter nails the sweet spot between the two, arguably creating her best novel to date. But first a warning for those who aren’t the biggest fans of gruesome crime thrillers, this book confronts some harrowing incidents, such as school shootings and suicidal ideation, and doesn’t hold back in its representation. For those who relish a graphic thriller, read on.
Samantha and Charlotte Quinn are the daughters of Pikeville’s infamous defence attorney, who has a reputation for never turning down a case. Drug dealers, rapists, murders, burglars, car jackers, paedophiles, kidnappers, bank robbers – he’s known as Rusty Quinn the Attorney for the Damned.
Samantha, her sister Charlotte and mother Gamma are all living in a flat, recovering from an arsonist attack on their family home, when two men dressed in all black storm into the house, demanding to see Rusty. They don’t get what they want, but kill Gamma in front of her daughters with a shotgun.
So begins a murder of gruesome soulless hatred, by one of Rusty’s ex-clients who owes him a great deal of money – and doesn’t want to pay up.
Twenty years later Charlotte Quinn – who now goes by Charlie – has followed in her father’s footsteps and become a hotshot lawyer. After a one night stand with a school teacher Huck, she finds herself at the wrong place, wrong time when a student brings a gun to Middle School, and starts to fire. The school descends into bloody chaos, and though Huck manages to pacify the young shooter and take the gun from her, the brutish cops are enraged. It’s only intervention from Charlie that stops them from murdering the acquiescent murderer.
Once the teenage murderer Kelly Wilson is finally arrested, leaving behind two homicide victims, everybody knows that Rusty Quinn is the only one who will take on the case. In a strange twist of fate, Charlie finds herself on the other side of the interview table, handcuffed, reliving the nightmarish ordeal with painful bureaucratic detail. Her husband Ben, also a lawyer, discovers his wife’s infidelity when she gives her statement, and is put in the uncomfortable situation of consoling and resenting their fractured relationship.
And all this happens in the first hundred pages. It’s impossible to go on without spoiling the plot twists or reveal the growing darkness that motivated the crime that destroyed Charlie’s family twenty years earlier. But in a market flooded with psychological thrillers, The Good Daughter is a reclaiming of a good old page-turner: unaffected, ambitious, and gripping.
Karin Slaughter grew up in a small south Georgia town and has been writing since she was a child. She is the author of the Grant County series of international bestsellers Blindsighted, Kisscut, A Faint Cold Fear, Indelible, Faithless and Skin Privilege, and the bestselling thriller set in Atlanta, Triptych. She is also the editor of Like a Charm, a collaboration of British and American crime fiction writers. She lives in Atlanta.