Monday, August 10, 2009

Review of Undone by Karin Slaughter.

Title: Undone
Author: Karin Slaughter
ISBN: 978-0385-34196-7
Pages: 436
Release Date: July 14, 2009
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre: Crime Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary: Someone had spent time with her -- someone well-practiced in the art of pain... Three years ago former Grant County medical examiner Sara Linton moved to Atlanta hoping to leave her tragic past behind her. Now working as a doctor in Atlanta's Grady Hospital she is starting to piece her life together. But when a severely wounded young woman is brought in to the emergency room, she finds herself drawn back into a world of violence and terror. The woman has been hit by a car but, naked and brutalized, it's clear that she has been the prey of a twisted mind. When Special Agent Will Trent of the Criminal Investigation Team returns to the scene of the accident, he stumbles on a torture chamber buried deep beneath the earth. And this hidden house of horror reveals a ghastly truth - Sara's patient is just the first victim of a sick, sadistic killer. Wrestling the case away from the local police chief, Will and his partner Faith Mitchell find themselves at the center of a grisly murder hunt. And Sara, Will and Faith - each with their own wounds and their own secrets - are the only thing that stands between a madman and his next crime...

Every one of us has experienced some kind of trauma that has caused undue stress and psychological pain. As a result many have become unable to function properly. But eventually, we are able to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off and move forward. Undone, a grisly tale of torture and brutality explores how much people can take before they begin to unravel.
What unites the main characters in Undone is the investigation of a series of horrific crimes that begins when a woman escapes a sadomasochist's torture, only to be hit by a car but continues to fight for life. Through the course of the book, the principal characters suffer psychological pain and pressure, coming undone to varying degrees, if only for a short time. While confronting the savage brutality inflicted on the women and the horrifying implements of torture, the main characters realize what they have to be grateful for and where their support and loyalties lie.

Dr. Sara Linton discovers you don't know how strong you are until you are tested. She suffered a devastating personal tragedy in Beyond Reach, Karin Slaughter's previous work. Although she initially gives in to the pain, Sara has too much going for her to let her life be derailed. Her loving, supportive family, intelligence and her plan to help people keep her strong and raise the limits of what she thought she could ultimately tolerate. Detective Will Trent was five months old when his mother was murdered. Subsequently, he grew up in more than ten foster homes where he was subjected to physical and mental abuse. Despite struggling with (but not overcoming) dyslexia, Detective Trent graduated from college and now works for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation where he has a great partner he can depend on. Similarly, the first victim of the unknown monster refuses to be undone by the brutality and resulting emotional pain to which she is subjected . She wants to live. She endured unimaginable acts of depravity but didn't come undone.

As soon as you read about the torture chamber in which the first victim was kept and what was found there, you can't help but wonder, as I did, what kind of a person could do this? Who is capable of treating a fellow human being like this? What is wrong with this person? What isn't? I wondered, too, if they themselves could survive such treatment and not come undone. Or, maybe a human being who can behave with such savagery towards another has already become undone.

This is a harrowing tale of cruelty, excessive violence and savage behavior that, at times, is difficult to stomach. It is not a story for the faint of heart. It's difficult to imagine such depraved behavior, but the writing is so well done, the characters so fleshed out, I couldn't put the book down. I realized I was hooked when I became aware of my own shock and then anger that somebody was treating women so badly. I wanted to know who it was that could engage in such reprehensible behavior and was rooting for the detectives who were bound and determined to find the psychopath responsible.

Much more than a who-done-it, it's true that it's the shocking act of pure savagery that draws you in, but ultimately, the luminous characters, these flawed individuals joined in their fight to stop a psychotic madman, are what keeps you reading this book. Seeing the concept of how much an entity can withstand making the leap from an individual to a team, seeing their combined strengths and weaknesses won my loyalty and made the characters real. They became people I wanted to know better and I suffered with them as they nearly self-destruct. I turned pages fervently not only to discover the identity of the lunatic at large but also to keep up with and watch over Sara and the detectives, admiring them for their humanity, alternately strong one moment and precipitously close to the edge the next. Undone is a hair-raising read full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat hoping the detectives will persevere in the end.



  1. I will add this to my list of books to read. I read Karin Slaughter's "Fractured" last month and enjoyed it.
    Thanks for the review!

  2. Excessive violence? Probably not a book for me.

  3. I've read other books by Slaughter . I'll have to add this one to my must read list! Not sure if i'll be able to read the gore parts :0

  4. her name is so familiar but I don't think I have read anything by Slaughter before. Sounds right up my alley though and I will have to check this one out.

  5. Wow, that sounds like some book! I love that it's set in Atlanta, since Atlanta is so familiar to me. I'm adding this to my wish list.

  6. I haven't read this book, but my wife did and she loved it. And she's got pretty good taste in books. :0)

  7. Ooooh, it sounds deliciously twisted! I do own this one plus Kisscut as you noticed on my side bar, but I have yet to read either. I'm glad you liked it and I'm glad it is so psychologically twisted because it is one of my faves and it's so difficult to find a writer who can truly pull a book full of surprises off.