I really liked Karin Slaughter’s Pretty Girls, despite the fact that it contained a lot more violence than I expected. Cop Town was similarly shocking, only it was the racism, sexism and homophobia that made me uncomfortable here. However, it was absolutely worth the read.
“This women’s lib stuff works for rich girls, but all you’ve got going for you is your face and your figure. You need to take advantage of both before you lose them.”
Set in the 1970s in Atlanta, Cop Town covers the first week on the job for rookie cop Kate Murphy. Kate’s husband died in the Vietnam War, and despite her rich parents’ desire to see her rewed as soon as possible, Kate decides to join the Atlanta police force. Here she witnesses intense sexism from the male cops, and cruelty from the women — all of whom are trying desperately to prove themselves. A new black police commissioner, appointed by the new black mayor, has raised the hackles of the old white guys on the force. And a shooter is on the loose, gunning down on-duty police officers. Kate gets partnered with Maggie Lawson, whose brother (also a cop) just lost his partner to the shooter. Kate and Maggie decide to hunt down the bad guy themselves, and Kate’s eyes get opened to a whole new Atlanta in the process.
Slaughter does a great job of setting the scene for the book. I was practically coughing from how well she described the constant smoking, and the atmosphere of bigotry comes down hard. You really get the feeling of the pressure and difficulty associated with being a woman, or a person of color, or a homosexual, during this particular era. And the central crime, although you kind of figure out some of the pieces early, comes together wonderfully.