Monday, May 20, 2024

"A great instalment in an excellent series" - review of AFTER THAT NIGHT

AFTER THAT NIGHT by Karin Slaughter (HarperCollins, 2023) 

Reviewed by Craig Sisterson

Fifteen years ago, Sara Linton's life changed forever when a celebratory night out ended in a violent attack that tore her world apart. Since then, Sara has remade her life. A successful doctor, engaged to a man she loves, she has finally managed to leave the past behind her.

Until one evening, on call in the ER, everything changes. Sara battles to save a broken young woman who's been brutally attacked. But as the investigation progresses, led by GBI Special Agent Will Trent, it becomes clear that Dani Cooper's assault is uncannily linked to Sara's.

And it seems the past isn't going to stay buried forever …

Georgia author Karin Slaughter is two decades and more into thrilling readers with the exploits of paediatrician and medical examiner Sara Linton, and has delivered for almost as long a stretch with tales of GBI Agent Will Trent (who’s now thrilling millions of viewers too, as portrayed by Ramón Rodríguez in crime drama Will Trent). 

In After That Night, recently longlisted for the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in the UK – a prestigious prize Slaughter previously scooped in 2015 for her outstanding standalone Cop Town – Linton and Trent dig deep into the connections between a horrifying rape case and the sexual assault Sara herself survived fifteen years before. Three years after teenager Dani Cooper crashes into an ambulance and whispers to Linton at Grady Memorial Hospital that she thinks she’s been raped, before dying, Linton is preparing to be cross-examined by a notorious attorney at a trial against Thomas Michael McAllister IV, son of two of her old med school peers. Two people who know about Sara’s own rape trauma, which she fears will be used in the trial to discredit her or show she’s biased in her recollections of what Dani Cooper said. 

While Linton escapes the viciously personal cross-examination she was expecting, she’s shocked in a different way; confronted in the courtroom bathroom by Britt McAllister, who smugly mentions that what happened to Dani and what happened to Sara was all connected. But how? Sara’s own rapist, hospital janitor Jack Allen Wright, was caught and imprisoned. Sara and Will team up with Will’s somewhat-benched GBI partner Faith for an off-the-books investigation into the links across generations of unspeakable horrors visited on young women associated with the university and medical school. It’s an at-times harrowing descent into misogyny and sexual assault, a devastating read that could be read as a standalone or first-time visit to Sara and Will’s world, but will have even greater impact for readers who have followed their travails and story over many novels and years.

Slaughter is such a skilful storyteller that things never become too grim, despite the darkness and horrors into which she dives. There are strong threads of compassion and caring, and lighter moments between characters that offset the trauma. A great instalment in an excellent series.

Craig Sisterson is a lawyer turned writer, editor, podcast host, and event chair. He's the founder of the Ngaio Marsh Awards, co-founder of Rotorua Noir festival, author of Macavity and HRF Keating Award-shortlisted non-fiction work SOUTHERN CROSS CRIME, editor of the DARK DEEDS DOWN UNDER anthology series, and writes about books for magazines and newspapers in several countries.

No comments:

Post a Comment