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158 of 163 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "None of this makes sense."
Karin Slaughter brings together some of her most memorable characters in "Broken," her latest thriller. Twenty-one year old Allison Spooner is at the end of her rope. She is short of money, her boyfriend has disappointed her, and her rusted-out hulk of a car is on its last legs. She is struggling to keep up with her college classes at Georgia's Grant Tech while earning...
Published on April 24, 2010 by E. Bukowsky

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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grant County is Broken
Dr. Sara Linton is in Heartsdale, Georgia visiting her family for Thanksgiving. Being back home from Atlanta stirs up conflicted emotions. The wound of her dead husband, Heartsdale's former police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, is still fresh. She blames Detective Lena Adams for creating the circumstances that lead to his murder four years earlier.

A homicide ruins...
Published on May 17, 2010 by Dr Beverly R Vincent


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158 of 163 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "None of this makes sense.", April 24, 2010
This review is from: Broken: A Novel (Grant County) (Hardcover)
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Karin Slaughter brings together some of her most memorable characters in "Broken," her latest thriller. Twenty-one year old Allison Spooner is at the end of her rope. She is short of money, her boyfriend has disappointed her, and her rusted-out hulk of a car is on its last legs. She is struggling to keep up with her college classes at Georgia's Grant Tech while earning a pittance as a waitress in a diner. Sadly, her dream of escaping her tedious life is shattered when an unknown assailant attacks and kills her.

Lena Adams, the senior detective on call, is summoned to the scene. At first, it appears that Spooner may have killed herself, but new evidence points to murder. Lena's boss, interim chief of police Frank Wallace, is not much help. He has been drinking heavily, and his mind is clearly elsewhere. When Wallace, Adams, and Detective Brad Stephens travel to the address where the victim allegedly lived, they discover a possible suspect. What follows is a series of blunders that lead to disaster both for the person taken into custody and the cops who arrest him.

To make matters more complicated, Dr. Sara Linton, who is a pediatrician, medical examiner, and the widow of the former police chief, Jeffrey Tolliver, is visiting her family for Thanksgiving. Sara despises Lena, whom she blames for her late husband's death, and would prefer never to lay eyes on the detective ever again. She acidly tell someone that Lena is "never held accountable for anything. She always manages to slither back under her rock." When Special Agent Will Trent from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is assigned to look into Allison Spooner's death, he teams up with Sara, whose expertise proves to be invaluable.

"Broken" is an exciting, suspenseful, and poignant tale that shows how people sow the seeds of their own destruction. They withhold vital information, try to cover up their mistakes, and shift blame to others. What results is a needless waste of lives and resources. Sara and Will both have inner demons to contend with, but as they get to know one another, they open up a bit and form a tenuous connection.

Slaughter is a terrific storyteller. The plot is well-constructed and involving, her dialogue is realistic, and the author captures the feeling of life in a small Georgia town where people know everyone else's business and cling tightly to their prejudices and pettiness. The characters are generally well-delineated: Dr. Sara Linton is still in mourning for her husband, although he has been gone for four years; Lena Adams has committed her share of screw-ups, but has always been too stubborn to admit her culpability; Will Grant is a good-hearted man and an excellent detective but he is hiding a secret that, if revealed, may affect his future in the Bureau; Frank Wallace, after thirty-five years on the force, is an alcoholic who no longer has what it takes to function on the job. This is a fast-moving story that falters a bit during the final formulaic confrontation. In general, however, "Broken" works, because Karin Slaughter's compassion for her characters shines through. She depicts them as three-dimensional human beings, warts and all, most of whom would like to fix what is broken in their lives. Unfortunately, not everyone has the courage, honesty, and motivation to face the truth and take the necessary steps to rectify what is wrong.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Grant County is Broken, May 17, 2010
This review is from: Broken: A Novel (Grant County) (Hardcover)
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Dr. Sara Linton is in Heartsdale, Georgia visiting her family for Thanksgiving. Being back home from Atlanta stirs up conflicted emotions. The wound of her dead husband, Heartsdale's former police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, is still fresh. She blames Detective Lena Adams for creating the circumstances that lead to his murder four years earlier.

A homicide ruins Sara's plans to keep a low profile while in town. Someone tried to make the murder of a female college student look like a suicide, but Lena turns up clues that reveal a different story. The evidence leads Sara, interim chief Frank Wallace and rookie officer Brad Stephens to the student's garage apartment, where they surprise Tommy Braham.

A lot of things are broken in Grant County, including the local police department. Wallace is a raging drunk. Tommy's arrest was a catastrophe of epic proportions and the confession Lena obtained was probably coerced. Tommy has a low IQ and is highly suggestible. The case probably won't stand up in court, and that was before someone started tampering with the evidence.

In custody, Tommy plunges into depression and begs to see Sara, who used to be his pediatrician. By the time she gets to the jail, Tommy has killed himself. Rather than going through channels, Sara reaches out directly to GBI agent Will Trent to investigate the circumstances surrounding Tommy's death. Sara sees the situation as a chance to exact her revenge revenge on Lena.

Will knows he won't be welcomed with open arms, and he's right. The local police dig in their heels, hide evidence and generally refuse to cooperate with his investigation. To make matters worse, he ends up staying at Sara's domineering mother's house, leading to rumors that he's sleeping with Sara. He has a complicated relationship with his wife back in Atlanta, but that's not the worst of his problems. He has severe dysgraphia, which makes it virtually impossible for him to read anything. Sara is quick to diagnose his problem, which leads to tension between them.

While characters with afflictions can be interesting, readers may find it difficult to accept that someone with such a severe handicap could escape detection by his coworkers and superiors. It's also hard to fathom how he could have progressed through the ranks. Surely his job and advancements would require copious paperwork, written reports, and written examinations. Will reminisces about how his wife helped cover for him, but that stretches credibility to the limit. Vital evidence often comes before him in written form. Delays in interpreting that material could torpedo cases. He even has trouble following directions, so how does he make it to crime scenes?

There is a lot of history among the characters, much of which comes from Slaughter's previous novels; however, she does a good job of filling in the history for readers who haven't read the earlier books. At times, the conflict feels a touch melodramatic and it's hard to like the characters very much. Lena, at least, begins to lighten up once she realizes that Will has figured out how badly she screwed things up. She achieves a kind of peace in acknowledging that her career may be over. She starts working the case with a diligence she previously lacked.

The resolution of the crime comes out of left field, though. There are clues to the motivation behind the murders, but they're very subtle, and some readers my feel like Slaughter has been stingy. The killings are more brutal than the motive would seem to explain.

Also, people make much of the fact that everyone in tiny Heartsdale knows everyone else's business and yet Lena's relationship manages to remain secret and another important character returns to the area without anyone noticing.
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20 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Spellbinding Thriller from a Best Selling Author, April 25, 2010
This review is from: Broken: A Novel (Grant County) (Hardcover)
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What a great feeling it is to discover another great author! This is the first book that I have read by Karin Slaughter, but certainly not my last!

I had a tough time putting this book down. An outstanding story teller, Karin Slaughter knows how to keep a reader spellbound and on the edge of his seat frantically turning pages.

The story begins with Georgia Grant Tech College Student Allison Spooner's surprising murder at a lake in Heartland as she contemplates suicide mourning her breakup with her boyfriend Jason Howell.

Likeable, mentally disabled Tommy Braham is the prime suspect after he runs from what is believed to be the scene of the murder and accidentally stabs police detective Brad Stevens in the stomach with a letter opener. His confession and subsequent suicide seals the deal for arresting officer Senior Detective Lena Adams.

Lena, as policewoman thought to be overzealous, having a problem with following proper police protocol and a propensity of bending the truth is protected by her alcoholic Acting Chief of Police Frank Wallace who has dark secrets and skeletons in his own closet.

Coming home from Alabama for Thanksgiving, former County Coroner and Hartsdale Children's Clinic Director Dr. Sara Linton, wife of Jeffery Tolliver, murdered former Grant County Police Chief blames Lena for his death and becomes involved in the case with an agenda to make Lena pay for her transgressions.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Will Trent is called to investigate the murder following, Acting Chief of Police Frank Wallace and Senior Detective Lena Adam's apparent dubious and obstructive behavior in the case.

With the murder of Allison Spooner's boy friend Jason Howell after Tommy's death, his involvement in the murder is dispelled.

Slaughter keeps the reader involved as the story evolves and the killer's motive comes to light while putting main characters lives in jeopardy.

I enjoyed this thriller from beginning to end and can hardly wait to read more from this excellent writer and fabulous story teller.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars There is nobody to like!, July 7, 2011
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This review is from: Broken: A Novel (Grant County) (Hardcover)
The author has talent but she must have been in a bad mood when writing this: everything and everybody looks bad. I know for sure Georgia deserves better: it is where I live. The best review of the book so far is "Grant County is Broken, May 17, 2010"by Dr Beverly R Vincent. It is more fair than I could write.
I discovered something about myself with this book: I dislike books where everybody lies and everybody is dishonest: I need somebody to like in a book. If no character is a "good character", I feel dirty for the read.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Maybe it's me..., April 22, 2010
This review is from: Broken: A Novel (Grant County) (Hardcover)
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I have a hard time liking a book -- enjoying a story, becoming lost in a story -- when I don't like the characters, and I didn't like the characters in this book. That's a tough thing to quantify; in a really good book, even the villains are dimensional, allowing you to empathize with them, at least somewhat.

However, in this book, even the protagonists... at least, I think they were supposed to be the "good" guys... were often not very appealing individuals. I guess the call-in investigator, the fellow with what I suppose is dysgraphia, since our real heroine, a doctor, bristles when his inability to make out symbols in order to read is called dyslexia, was a nice enough guy, although the fact that everyone in his life seemed to be out to get him made him a bit of a nerve-wracking proposal as well.

In the story, Dr. Sara Linton has come back to Heartsdale, the scene of her husband's murder four years ago, when he was Chief of Police there and she was county coroner and operator of a children's medical clinic. She's visiting with her parents and sister for Thanksgiving, and, largely due to her continued hatred for policewoman Lena Adams, whom she blames for the death of her husband, she is drawn into unsavory events. Although it is not uncommon to say someone is "wooden with grief," the author's habit of telling the story from the viewpoint of whichever character seems handy makes Sara seem either practically comatose or snarling with vengeful rage, while, of course, remaining absolutely lovely. The self-destructive Lena Adams remains someone I'd just like to put out of her misery... she's been walking wounded for the entirety of the series and while she may have cause, it is just gut-wrenching to read about.

This is definitely a series to read in order, but there is an awful lot of exposition in this book to bring you up to speed on the characters and current situation, nonetheless.

The dysgraphia is a novel thing to explore and I do applaud that, although I seriously wonder whether it could exist in a professional environment "below the radar," officially unacknowledged but understood by all parties to be a major deficiency in the workplace. Some people with dysgraphia and dyslexia do thrive in the workplace, but surely they have the support of their co-workers rather than ridicule and scorn?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Broken hearted melody, won't you bring him back to me." Song lyrics., November 6, 2010
This review is from: Broken: A Novel (Grant County) (Hardcover)
The title of this novel could represent the status of the characters and the situations in which they find themselves. Sometimes it is enjoyable as readers, to read about a character that is flawed and see how they might rescue themselves from a particular situation. In Lena Adams, we have such a character.

Officer Lena Adams of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, arrives at the scene where a suicide note is left at a lover's lane spot by Lake Grant. When divers recover the body of a young woman, Lena sees a stab wound toward the rear of the girl's neck and knows she's not dealing with a suicide.

The girl is identified as Allison Spooner, a college student and waitress at a nearby restaurant.

Lena accompanies acting chief, Frank Wallace, to Allison's apartment. On route, Lena smells alcohol on Frank and observes him drinking from a flask.

At the apartment, they are met by young and over enthusiastic detective Brad Stevens. When Brad looks in the apartment window, he sees a person who they believe is Allison's boyfriend, Tommy Brakam. He has a mask on and is holding a knife.

In the attempt to question him, Tommy becomes out of control and stabs Brad. Then, Tommy is caught, and jailed.

While other officers accompany Brad to the hospital, Tommy commits suicide in jail. In examining his background, we learn that he was a flawed, broken, character. He was just nineteen and had an i.q. of around eighty.

Dr. Sara Linton arrives at her parents' home for Thanksgiving. She had been married to the former chief of police and blames Lena for her, Sara's, husband's death. Sara was also the former coroner. Prior to Tommy's suicide, she had been asked to come to the jail and speak to him.

When Sara finds that Tommy had committed suicide and learns that Lena had been his interrogator, Sara believes that this is another case where Lena didn't do her job and so Sara calls in Special Agent Will Trent to investigate a possible case of police neglect.

Of the characters, Lena's flaw is over her guilt from the former chief's death. Although she had been cleared, she still feels responsible.

Acting Chief Wallace's flaw is that he is an alcoholic and overreacts to the situation.

Sara's flaw is that she cannot forgive Lena and wants her to pay for causing Sara's husband Jeff's death.

The police investigate Allison's murder and Tommy's suicide. Will Trent is an appealing character and someone that the reader can route for. His flaw is that he has dyslexia and has some difficulty relating to people since he grew up in a foster home.

There is an interesting portrayal of the town and the university. The university doesn't want bad publicity and sometimes attempts to cover up crimes.

Lena is easy to sympathise with and is a sincere person. In an admirable manner, whe wants to do the correct thing, even at the cost of her job and freedom.

I enjoyed the story and feel that it was contemporaty and could have been lifted from the headlines of a local newspaper of a city that has a large university.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still mad about Beyond Reach but I'm getting over it....., May 3, 2010
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Elizabeth Ray (Stockton, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Broken: A Novel (Grant County) (Hardcover)
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Dr. Sara Linton's reluctance to return home to Grant County is justified when she becomes embroiled in the suicide of a murder suspect who was once her patient. The suspect was in the custody of Lena Adams, so Sara jumps at the opportunity to highlight her incompetence. She calls in a favor, and Will Trent from the GBI is sent to investigate Lena and the Grant County police. It soon becomes apparent however that Lena's suspect is not a murderer, and the real killer is on the loose.

Fans of Karin Slaughter's earlier works will appreciate Broken perhaps more than new readers, as its most poignant moments concern the complicated relationships and shared history between the Grant County characters. I thought the pace lagged a bit in the last third of the book, which was more like a police procedural because of its focus on forensic investigation. New fans will find much to enjoy here, as Slaughter takes her series in a new direction with a caution that rivals the slowly-developing relationship between Sara and Will. Although Broken did not have me flipping pages as quickly as some of the previous Grant County books, it is nonetheless a solid mystery and enjoyable enough to keep Slaughter on my "must buy" list (even after the Beyond Reach scandal.)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is an intriguing Grant County thriller, April 25, 2010
This review is from: Broken: A Novel (Grant County) (Hardcover)
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Four years ago, in Heartsdale, Grant County's popular police chief Tolliver was murdered; the case remains unsolved. His widow Dr. Sara Linton was the county coroner and ran a children's clinic, but left after her spouse died. She is back in town visiting her family on Thanksgiving yet is still thirsting for her husband's homicide to be resolved although she is positive that Officer Lena Adams is at the center of her husband's homicide.

At the same time, Special Agent Will Trent is also in Grant County to investigate a questionable death oif a prisoner. Not surprising, he finds the local police officers circling the wagons protecting each other form the intruder. Will concludes that Police Officer Lena Adams is concealing something, but is not sure what or why. As he struggles with the uncooperative cops, he is taken aback when Dr. Linton asks him to look into her husband's murder, a cold case. Trent is being pulled by two women in opposite directions of the Blue Line that keeps him outside in spite of being law enforcement too.

This is an intriguing Grant County thriller (see Faithless, Undone and Blindsided) as Will instead of Sara holds the story line together with two females yanking him in opposite directions. The insightful look at the learning disorder agraphia augments the taut tale as it showcases how an individual learns to conceal a problem with some form of over compensation. In a starring role, Will brings freshness to the plot as he investigates two deaths that cast the Grants County Police Office in a shroud of darkness.

Harriet Klausner
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tiresome, August 19, 2010
This review is from: Broken: A Novel (Grant County) (Hardcover)
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This book has so much going for it -- an interesting premise of physician Sara returning home for a holiday and getting sucked into a criminal investigation in her dead husband's former police jurisdiction. A compelling investigator with a sad back story. A couple bad cops, a tragic set of murders and suicide. The mood is grim -- it's always raining -- and there is tension and sadness in abundance.

Somehow, however, the book falls flat. The author seems to repeat things until I feel like throwing the book on the floor and screaming, "I know! I know!" Whether it's an investigator's dyslexia, or the doctor/heroine and her hatred of one of the cops she blames for her husband's death, or the suicide's mental status -- it all just gets harped on endlessly. The story actually seems to plod because so much old ground is gone over and over and over.

I really like dark, suspenseful books, and usually I love Karin Slaughter, so I'll give her future books a chance and hope that this less than stellar book is a one-time blip. But frankly, I have never read a thriller/mystery that took me so long to plough through.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Out of the Loop, February 12, 2011
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This mystery set in a small Georgia town primarily deals with the investigation into a seemingly corrupt police department. I found the first third of the book to be rather gripping. The characters were strong, the relationships were realistic and compelling, and the mystery was tightly woven.

The climax of this novel left me disappointed, however. The resolution felt sloppy and many revelations came out of nowhere. The motivations of key characters broke down. The central mystery added up to nothing. The last two chapters of the book really felt like they came out of left field.

Since reading the book (my first by the author), I've discovered that "Broken" is one of many books featuring this set of characters. Perhaps fans of Slaughter's other novels will be able to appreciate "Broken" more than I. Knowing now that this is not a one-off novel, I can say I probably would have benefited from reading her other works first. In many ways this novel can stand alone, but if you chose to read it as such, you may find yourself feeling a little out of the loop.
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Broken: A Novel (Grant County)
Broken: A Novel (Grant County) by Karin Slaughter (Hardcover - June 22, 2010)
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