Mutilated female bodies are turning up all over Atlanta. Atlanta is known for its history of rape and crime but some “sicko” is creating havoc that is sending the Atlanta Police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in circles as they attempt to solve the puzzles this maniac leaves and still stay sane with their normally uncooperative inter-department methods. Grady Homes is a section of Atlanta that is deeply infested with slums and contains much of the areas crime. Prostitutes are everywhere, some giving freebies to the police so they can maintain their business.
On the sixth floor of one of the buildings in Grady lies a young woman dead, cut up badly, raped, her tongue ripped off, and her body discarded on the stairs for all to view. The police arrived, conducted their investigation, making their nasty comments about the body and the buildings, and the girls that are being killed doing their prostitution. Detective Michael Ormewood arrived after the original police who had found the body. Michael was one of the cops that liked to partake of the free women in the area. GBI Detective Will Trent, a completely different type of cop, worked with Michael on the investigation.
Back in 1985 Mary Alice Finney had been found in the same condition as the girls in the Grady Homes section had been found in present time; mutilated, raped, and cut in many areas of their bodies. The same two detectives had worked that case. John Shelley had been arrested for that murder and was convicted and sent to prison. He had a terrible time in prison being a young man that the other guys loved to force themselves on. They made Shelley’s insides look like hamburger through their constant raping of him. Prison was not kind to Shelley who insisted he was not guilty of killing Mary Alice Finney.
In 2005 Shelley was released and found a world changed so much that he did not know how he could ever fit. Work for ex-cons was laborious, sparse, and paid little, which is why he ended up in a car wash doing such menial work. Located in a poor area loaded with prostitutes and working with some fellow workers, some ex-cons too, that would not let him forget his past, Shelley plodded on and got nixed up with Angie, one of the prostitutes who actually was an undercover cop. He did not know that fact so John worked her to get information in his search for someone connected with the killing he was accused of years ago.
Karin Slaughter takes the reader on a trip through prison, recuperation from prison (if there is such a thing), and the rough life led by many in such desolate areas of crime in Atlanta. The story contains love, both true and untrue, and you get the feelings with the words used that you are in the middle of this story trying to figure out who is the mutilator, the killer, the good guys or the bad guys. Granted, Slaughter does not give anything away as you read until you get very deep in the book. A very enjoyable brutal mystery-murder story. I highly recommend it.