Review

Triptych

by Karin Slaughter



One might initially wonder why Karin Slaughter would choose to
depart, however momentarily, from her Grant County mythos,
developed in such critically and popularly acclaimed thrillers as
BLINDSIGHTED and FAITHLESS. The reason for this interruption is
TRIPTYCH, and Slaughter's motivation becomes obvious upon reading
this haunting work, which could be one of the best novels from any
genre to be published this year.

First and foremost, TRIPTYCH is a crime novel. But like the
greatest of the works in this genre, it is also a character study.
Perhaps it's more accurate to say studies, in that the book
focuses on three individuals with the shifts in perspective slowly
revealing all. The central event bringing the three men together is
a series of horrific rapes and mutilations, the most recent of
which ends in the brutal murder of a prostitute in an Atlanta
housing project.

Homicide Detective Michael Ormewood is the investigating officer,
but the focus of the novel's initial pages is not so much on his
investigation as it is upon his personal life. Ormewood's marriage
is dying the death of a thousand cuts, leaving him to wonder what
happened to this relationship. At least one void is being filled by
Ormewood's next-door neighbor, about whom more is gradually
learned. When the ultimate revelation comes, it provides new
insight into Ormewood and signals an important turning point in the
narrative.

John Shelley, on the other hand, is newly released from prison on
parole after serving 20 years for a brutal murder that bears an
uncomfortable resemblance not only to the victim in Ormewood's
investigation but also to a series of increasingly brutal attacks
that began almost simultaneously with Shelley's release. There is
more though to both Ormewood and Shelley than might first appear;
as Slaughter begins to work her magic, it slowly but inexorably
becomes obvious that neither man is who he seems to be.

It turns out that Will Trent, a special agent with the Georgia
Bureau of Investigation who is brought in to assist Ormewood in his
investigation, is the most interesting and enigmatic of these three
protagonists. Trent is an odd though principled duck; Slaughter
wisely chooses not to tell readers everything about him, so that an
air of subtle mystery lingers long after the last page is
read.

TRIPTYCH is a riveting and astounding work, as compelling as Dennis
Lehane's MYSTIC RIVER and for entirely different reasons. Those who
might be initially disappointed by Slaughter's momentary deviation
from rural Grant County to the grit and grime of urban Atlanta will
find cause to rejoice from first page to last. Very highly
recommended.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011

Triptych
by Karin Slaughter

  • Publication Date: July 31, 2007
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense
  • Mass Market Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Dell
  • ISBN-10: 0440242924
  • ISBN-13: 9780440242925