A longtime fan of her Grant County series, I was interested to see how Karin Slaughter would fare in her stand-alone effort Triptych. The story of an Atlanta serial killer, Triptych utilizes the clever plot device of telling the story from three different narrators—one less reliable than the others.
First, we hear from Michael Ormewood, a police detective whose life hasn’t been the same since the diagnosis of his young son as autistic. Michael has just caught the case of the serial offender who is raping women and biting their tongues out. The rapist has progressed to murder, leaving a black prostitute dead near her apartment in the projects. He reluctantly accepts the help of Will Trent, an agent with the Special Criminal Apprehension Team who has been assigned to solve the case. Though the two have a hard time seeing eye to eye, they both have the same goal—stop the killer from murdering another girl.
We next hear from John Shelley, a convicted murderer who has just finished serving his time for the rape and murder of a high school girl while he himself was still in school. John only wants to get his life back on track and make amends to his sister Joyce, but he soon discovers that someone has been using his identity—and it may just be the same someone who has been mutilating women in Atlanta.
Finally, the story is told from the point of view of Angie Polaski, a vice officer who has had prior relationship with both Michael Ormewood and Will Trent. Leaving behind a tortured past, Angie has made a life for herself, but she still finds it difficult to have normal relationships. When she meets John Shelley while posing as a prostitute, she stumbles upon the serial killer who is terrorizing Atlanta’s identity—but it may not be who she is expecting.
Triptych is unlike the Grant County thrillers only in the different characters and location (though Angie does remind me a lot of the Lena character in those books). In the ways that matter, Slaughter’s new book is quite similar to her previous bestsellers. It crackles with energy, has enough twists and turns to keep any reader off balance, and has nail-biting action that will keep you turning page after page.
Slaughter has a unique ability to make you care about the most damaged of characters, creating unlikely heroes who get thrown into the most twisted of circumstances. Her books are without fail dark, disturbing and utterly impossible to forget. Fans of her Grant County books will enjoy this new novel as a welcome distraction while they wait for the next book in the series, and those unfamiliar to Slaughter’s work will find this a good place to start before diving in to Slaughter’s serial thrillers.