Tag: Cop Town

Cop Town by Karin Slaughter

Posted July 3, 2014 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Crime / 0 Comments

Cop Town by Karin SlaughterTitle: Cop Town (Goodreads)
, 2014
Pages: 416
Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Karin Slaughter is a prolific crime writer whose novels mainly are in the Will Trent or Grant County series. She is a writer I never thought about picking up, mainly because I avoid bestseller crime novels (they are too formulaic) and I don’t like the idea of starting a series that already has so many novels to catch up on. Can you imagine trying to catch up on something like Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone (currently on book 23) series? When I saw that Cop Town was a new standalone novel by Slaughter, I knew this was my chance to try her without making a huge investment.

Cop Town is a police procedural focusing on two female officers working for the Atlanta PD in 1974. Kate Murphy is a beautiful new recruit that comes from a wealthy family; she is determined to make it on her own. Maggie Lawson is a hardened no-nonsense type officer from a cop family that has been on the force for a while now. Right off the bat you can pretty much guess the themes within this book; sexism, racism, police corruption/brutality and that is before even understanding what type of crime is involved in the book. However, the central mystery within this novel revolves around the search for a cop killer, but for me this plot took a backseat to the themes.

I feel like Cop Town mainly focused on the gender imbalance in society, though set in 1974 the reader can still see just how far we have come toward sexual equality (not far at all). I want to focus on two little incidences that happen in the book that highlight this and don’t give away any spoilers. Firstly there was an incident in the novel were Kate was basically told by a married man that ‘wives are for babies and women like you are for fun’. Lines like that are not just a feminist issue but it also shows a fundamental flaw in our social thinking. The idea that sexual satisfaction can’t happen in a marriage is still a very real problem nowadays and too often portrayed in the media.

The second issue involved Maggie, with a cop killer on the loose her uncle forcefully asks her to quit the force to keep safe. This scene made me think that the biggest risk to Maggie’s safety was her family more than the cop killer. The idea of wanting a woman to quit the force while you plan to remain and do something about this issue is problematic and raises many questions about equality. I’m not going to go into too much detail about my thoughts with these two scenes but I thought it would be nice to just highlight what this book is dealing with while avoiding spoilers.

Normally when I read a crime novel, I read it for plot and I tend to stick to the ones that dive into the dark and twisted. The exception is obviously hard-boiled and noir but I will admit that even if Cop Town doesn’t fit my preferences in crime novels I was glad to read it. The themes that this novel explores made this both an enjoyable and compelling read, even if I didn’t think much of the plot. Can’t say I will revisit Karin Slaughter again, however if another standalone novel offers a similar experience I may reconsider.