Book Review

The Last Widow

Ever since that first day I stumbled across a Karin Slaughter book from the Will Trent series in my local library, I can’t get enough of these books. The newest release, The Last Widow, is the ninth book in the series, and it’s written with the same sarcastic wit, brilliant plot twists that keep readers on the edge of their seat, humor, and romance, but this time it incorporates a lot of controversial issues that are occurring in our society. Beware, this book is not for the faint of heart, and comes with a HUGE list of trigger warnings.

TRIGGER WARNING: This book includes kidnapping, graphic violence, acts of terrorism, white supremacy, substance use, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia, and anti-Semitism. There are references to rape, and sexual and physical abuse of children.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Michelle Spivey, a scientist at the Centers for Disease Control, is kidnapped from the parking lot of a shopping center. There isn’t much information on the unknown kidnappers, and the case goes cold.

A month later, a busy neighborhood in Atlanta is rocked by a bomb, followed by another one. The target? The grounds that house Emory University, an FBI field office, 2 major hospitals … and the CDC.

Will Trent, Special Agent with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations (GBI), and his girlfriend, medical examiner Dr. Sara Linton, hurry to the scene to help. On their way, they walk right into a dangerous situation that could claim thousands of lives. Sara is taken hostage, and Will has no choice but to go undercover to save Sara and stop a disaster. But in doing so, he is also putting his own life in jeopardy.

Will’s sense of humor hasn’t changed much. He jokes around about his upbringing, mentioning a “Nember’s Only” jacket that he used to have, which made me laugh. I think another one of Will’s more endearing characteristics is rather than feeling threatened by a woman in a position of power, he respects the work she put in to get there. Come on, how could you not like this guy? Will is pretty serious most of the time, although he’s funny in a goofy way, and a little socially awkward in a way that makes him utterly relatable. In this book, we really start to see Will open up emotionally for the first time ever. I love seeing Will with Sara, and I think they’re great for each other.

Sara is a major player in this book too, obviously. While I’ve always respected her as a strong, smart, and independent female who has overcome a lot, in this book, we learn so much more about who she is deep down. She’s sweet, but has an inner strength that is truly amazing. She’s brilliant as well. I can’t really keep gushing about her, but if you read the book, you’ll understand.

Faith is a character that I always liked as well, but when she references The Princess Bride, I love her even more. She makes jokes about online dating, which as anyone who has tried it, totally will understand, and then describes an FBI agent as “more like a Humperdinck than a Westley.”

This story diverged a bit from the usual pattern by sharing the story from the viewpoint of various characters: Sara, Will, and Faith, but all in the same time period. It was interesting to see what each character was doing at the exact same point in time, since they were all involved in different areas of the plot line.

I love that Karin Slaughter isn’t afraid to incorporate elements of our society into her books, even though many of the issues are pretty controversial. It’s important to include them in literature, because art imitates life. Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows: our world includes hate, school shootings, xenophobia, white supremacy, vaccination debates, and border issues, and this book touches on all of them. I make sure to stay out of political discussions, but I will say that hatred doesn’t solve anything. I do think that this book touched on these topics in a sensitive way, and while there are a LOT of trigger warnings, the book itself was about the destructive consequences of hate, and advocates for an inclusive world that focuses on similarities rather than differences.

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 14

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