Cop Town

Bad boys, bad boys, watcha gonna do?  Watcha gonna do when they come for you?

Oh yeahhhh.  COPS.  "I didn't do it man!"  "Those aren't my drugs!"  "That's not my gun!"  And the always wonderful random naked criminal.  COPS is a pretty great show.  And yet I've never been one to gobble up police procedural books.  I have read some of Tana French's work, and all the drama drove me batty.  However, Netgalley sent me an email proclaiming that I "had to read" this new book by Karin Slaughter, who does a police/crime series.  Her newest book, however, was a standalone and also historical fiction.  I said, sure, why not.  And here came Cop Town.

Overall, I ... liked it.  I surprised myself by liking it.  I didn't love it, adore it, or clutch it to my chest and say it's my new favorite book EVER OMGGGGGG.  It was competently done and had really nice historical touches.  I actually hope that Slaughter continues to work with these characters, as I found them intriguing.

Atlanta, 1974.  Jimmy Lawson drags his partner, Don Wesley, through the dangerous Five Points section of Atlanta.  Don's been shot in the head, and the shooter could be coming after Jimmy next.  Don ends up dying of his head wound, setting off a city-wide manhunt for the cop killer known as the Atlanta Shooter (yeah, this could have been a bit more menacing.  But okay).  Jimmy's a popular guy--former high-school football star with a blown-out knee--and the police force vows to get revenge for his partner's death.  Jimmy's in a cop family in more ways than one.  His twenty-three year old sister, Maggie, is also a cop, and so is his Uncle Terry.  Maggie fights sexism and harassment every day while on the job--a lot of it from her Good Ole Boy Uncle Terry and his cronies.  Her mother, Delia, is no help at all, and her father is in a mental institution.  Yet, Maggie soldiers on, and she's determined to be the one to break the case and prove her idiot Uncle Terry wrong about female cops.

See, Uncle Terry only likes white male cops.  It's his brotherhood, and Jimmy's bigger family.  Terry hates women, all people of any other ethnicity besides his own, homosexuals, politicians, and, oh yeah, he really hates African Americans.  He's not above a little evidence planting to get someone jailed for their race.

Enter Kate.  Kate's husband was killed in Vietnam two years ago, but she refuses to go back and live with her family.  Instead, she joins the police force.  Kate is extremely attractive, blonde, rich, and ... Jewish.  Her mother and grandmother have a powerful story to tell.  Basically, Kate is all of the things people like Terry DON'T want on the police force.  She endures hazing after hazing, but ultimately proves herself and grows up (no, that's not a typo.  You'll see what I mean).

The mystery of the Atlanta Shooter is well-constructed, and the layers of secrets that Kate and Maggie uncover are surprising yet plausible--especially for that time period.  Slaughter represents a wide variety of backgrounds without pigeonholing people.

Exploration of racial tension is fantastic, and lends yet another level to the story.  Atlanta is a "cop town"--one that's run by the white male cops, but that's starting to change.  African Americans and women are entering the police force.  Cop Town as the old timers know it is changing--and it's scary as all get out.

There were some things I didn't like, mostly because they felt extraneous.  Kate's relationship with her doctor friend (and his weird references to 70s porno movies) was bizarre and didn't add to the story.  In the opening chapters, Maggie's difficult home life is described at length (and it's interesting!) but we don't return to it in the same level of detail.  Certain cops *cough Rick cough cough* appear and then disappear on the regular, a rotating cast of convenience.

However, if Karin Slaughter decides to turn this into a series, for once, I won't get all cranky about it.

I would also like to point out that I never have really wanted to go to Atlanta, and I take special pains to never, ever connect at Atlanta's airport.  I'm sure y'all are real nice people, I just ... don't want to go to Atlanta.  Just like other people might not want to ever go to Chicago.  And Atlanta of the 1970s is one scary place.

I received a copy of this title from Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.


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