I am unsure where or when I picked up this book. I've had it in my pile for a while now, and picked it up when the slower, non-fiction I've been reading was starting to disinterest me. The book was a slower read than I expected it to be, but I'm unsure where my expectations came from.
The book is about Charlie, a lawyer in Small Town, Georgia, and daughter of a defense lawyer, Rusty, who believes that all people deserve a defense, especially those found guilty in the court of public opinion and unlikely to receive a fair trial or vigorous defense otherwise - you know, the lawyer who is guaranteed to make enemies.
Said enemies take out their vengeance on Rusty's family, and there we have the set up for the main character's demeanor, struggle, conflict, strengths, and development.
This is the first Karin Slaughter book I've read. Mom's favorable opinion of Slaughter's writing influenced my reading the book. There were a number of places where I nodded in understanding of some of the characters' actions, so Slaughter's writing is believable and understandable, which is great.
I just don't know that I'm a better person for having read this book.
Stay with me.
Many of the fiction books I've read have a moral to them. If they lack a moral, then they might contain some incident that causes reflection, a pondering, something to consider that affects the reader's life. Take the Imperial Radch series, for example. Leckie writes about privilege and power and how they manifest corruption, all in the framework of a space opera. Heinlein books were all social commentary.
This book, however, I don't feel that. I don't know the lesson, the moral, the point of the book. Yes, "telling a good story" is a sufficient point to a book, but this one didn't leave me with "whoa, that was a good story," or similar thought.
Eh, I don't know. I'd rate this worth reading if you're a fan of Slaughter. Maybe a Slaughter fan can recommend another book written by her that might better showcase her writing?
She knew all the questions on Jeopardy. She knew when to use who or whom. She could not abide misinformation. She disdained organized religion. In social situations, she had the strange habit of spouting obscure facts.
I like Gamma already.
"Charlie needs to know that she can depend on you. You have to put that baton firmly in her hand every time, no matter where she is. You find her. Don’t expect her to find you.”
She asked, “Whose side are you on?”
“There’s no such thing as sides. There’s just doing the right thing.”
“I hate to blow apart your philosophy, Horatio, but if there’s a right thing then there’s a wrong thing, and as someone with a law degree, I can tell you that stealing the murder weapon from a double homicide, then lying about it to an FBI agent, can land you on the wrong side of a prison cell for a hell of a long time.”
Horrible things were a hell of a lot easier to digest when you took away the emotion.
“I’m not saying anything about how stupid it is to smoke after having two heart attacks and open-heart surgery.”
“That is called paralipsis, or, from the Greek, apophasis,” Rusty informed her. “A rhetorical device by which you add emphasis to a subject by professing to say little or nothing about it.” He was tapping his foot with glee. “Also, a rhetorical relative of irony, whom I believe you went to school with.”
“Charlotte, let me give you the answer.”
“No, darling. Listen to what I’m saying. Sometimes, even if you know the answer, you’ve got to let the other person take a shot. If they feel wrong all the time, they never get the chance to feel right.”
During the first year of their marriage, one of their biggest arguments had been over Ben’s habit of taking off his socks every night and dropping them on the floor of the bedroom. Charlie had started kicking them under the bed when he wasn’t looking, and one day Ben had realized that he didn’t have any socks left and Charlie had laughed and he had yelled at her and she had yelled back at him and because they were both twenty-five, they had ended up fucking each other on the floor.
I laughed at this. Why? the Underwear Saga, of course.
Charlie washed clothes. Ben folded.
Yep. Good separation of laundry.
Charlie’s shift from supportive spouse to raging harpy had not been gradual. Seemingly overnight, she was no longer capable of compromise. She was no longer able to let things go. Everything Ben did irritated her.
She had always been drawn to people who were delighted by the world, who looked out rather than in.
They had traveled extensively throughout their marriage, Anton taking jobs or Sam attending a conference with the sole purpose of being somewhere new. Dubai. Australia. Brazil. Singapore. Bora Bora.
A massive, reversible toll lane cut through the center of the interstate, catering to all the pickup-driving John Boys who drove down to Atlanta every day to make money, then drove back at night and railed against the godless liberals who lined their pockets and subsidized their utilities, their healthcare, their children’s lunches and their schools.
Sam thought about Melissa, the way she had cried every time she scored less than perfect on a test. That was probably the kind of person you wanted operating on your father.
Rusty remained unmoved. “Death snickers at us all, my dear. The eternal footman will not hold my coat forever.”
She pulled a Ziploc bag from her purse. Her tea sachets were inside. Charlie said, “We have tea here.”
“I like this kind.” Sam dipped the sachet into the water.
I understand this, too.
They might have been magnets, but they were of unequal power. Everything Sam knew, Gamma knew more.
“Do you think I should do it?” Charlie considered her answer before speaking.
“Would the Sam I grew up with do it? Maybe, though not out of any affinity for Rusty. She would be angry the same way I get angry when something isn’t fair."
Charlie lifted her chin. They could be in a western, or a John Hughes movie if John Hughes had ever written about aggrieved, almost middle-aged women.
The Wilsons took the lack of information with a type of resignation that seemed ingrained in their souls. They were clearly part of that forgotten swath of poor, rural people. They were accustomed to waiting for the system to play out, usually not in their favor.
She had so many things wrong with her body that she could not imagine why someone would purposefully damage themselves.
You could only ever see a thing when you were standing outside of it.
“A trial is nothing but a competition to tell the best story. Whoever sways the jury wins the trial."
“I’ve always preferred crazy to stupid. Stupid can break your heart.”
Rusty said, “A father’s job is to love each of his daughters in the way they need to be loved.”
“You’ve always said that everyone deserves a chance.”
“They do, but I don’t have to be the one who gives it to them.”
“What a rapist takes from a woman is her future. The person she is going to become, who she is supposed to be, is gone. In many ways, it’s worse than murder, because he has killed that potential person, eradicated that potential life, yet she still lives and breathes, and has to figure out another way to thrive.” He waved his hand in the air. “Or not, in some cases.”
“Charlotte has always been a pack animal. She doesn’t need to be the leader, but she needs to be in a group. Ben was her group.”
"He’s either involved somehow or he’s an idiot.”
“I told you stupid breaks your heart.”
Her druthers were always to apply logic to a problem, but as with the weather, life existed in a delicate dynamical balance between the fields of mass and motion. In essence, sometimes shit happened.
“I was so relieved when it happened. You don’t realize when you’re that young that you’re going to get older. That there’s going to come a time when you’re not relieved.”
She used the back of her hand to rub her eyes. “I saw Dad do this closing argument once. He talked about how people always obsess about lies. Damn lies. But no one really understands that the real danger is the truth.” She looked up at the white casket. “The truth can rot you from the inside. It doesn’t leave room for anything else.”
“Ben would be happier with someone else.”
“Utter bullshit,” Sam said, her tone clipped. “You have no right to decide on his behalf.”
Of course, she was still pedantic and annoying, but that came with being their mother’s child.