Karin Slaughter’s COP TOWN is an unrelentingly grim and violent look at Atlanta, GA in 1974, a city festering with hatred and tension. It’s also about two police officers, Maggie Lawson and Kate Murphy, trying to prove themselves in a male dominated police force where women aren’t welcomed.
Through Maggie and Kate’s eyes we see a world of racism, bigotry, misogynists, homophobia, anti-Semitic, physical abuse, harassment, and violence—how it’s dealt to them, how they see it, and how each handled it in their own way. Slaughter does an awesome job of transporting us to 1974, the details of the time period from fashion, to describing the city, to the lingo—she doesn’t shy away from anything no matter how dark, sexiest, racist, or brutal the world was like. You can tell the woman did her research.
COP TOWN revolves around a serial killer who is targeting and murdering cops and a divided police force with the mission of bringing a him to justice. But at the heart of the story is Maggie and Kate’s journey as they try to establish their place and prove themselves in a male dominated Atlanta Police force. The things they had to face, deal with, and listen to had my jaw dropping and saying “WOW” in disbelief. Slaughter captures the struggles of these women to earn respect in the workplace as they face scorn, physical and verbal sexual harassment. On top of that both women struggle with personal demons. I admired these two women, which in turned made me admire and respect the real women who struggled through that time period. It was eye opening.
As much as I liked Maggie and Kate, the one character who stole every scene she was in was Gail. That woman reminded me of a few of my own southern aunts who are unabashed when it came to how they saw life, people, and situations—they didn’t hesitate to be brutally honest in telling you. Just listening to Gail (you have to get the audio version to get the full impact) made me cringe, laugh, and shake my head with disbelief, just like I did with my own aunts. You have to love a character that says what she means and feels without any kind of filter. Slaughter also fills her book with characters you abhor and want to beat the crap out of and sympathetic characters who you can’t help feel for.
COP TOWN is a superb story about racial tension, fear, prejudice, changing societal demographics, women’s lib, the inner workings of a 70’s police force, and the search for one’s true identity and place in a shifting world. Karin Slaughter writes a brutally and raw story that hooked me in and didn’t want to let go.