The Last Widow: The latest new 2019 crime thriller from the No. 1 Sunday Times bestselling author by Karin Slaughter
The Last Widow by Karin Slaughter delves into a potent subject. Although a fictional story, it is rooted in reality. The recent rise of domestic terrorism is brought to life with the return of her beloved characters, Sara Linton and Will Trent, who have returned from a few years hiatus.
The book opens with the kidnapping of Michelle Spivey, a scientist from the Center for Disease Control, who appears to have vanished in thin air. One month later two blasts shatter Emory University in Atlanta Georgia. Hearing the blasts, Medical Examiner Sara and her partner Will, an investigator with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, rush to the scene, but stop when they encounter the aftermath of a three-car collision. Realizing something is amiss, Sara tries to alert Will. But the men in the cars beat Will to the ground and whish Sara off to a mountain encampment of the Invisible Patriot Army, a White Supremacist paramilitary unit. Readers will experience through Sara’s eyes the sense of panic, fear, and the horror of these merciless terrorists. Using time as a tension tool, Slaughter allows readers to understand there is a ticking time clock to stop this group from executing a deadly plan that could kill thousands. Will and Sara put their lives on the line to save each other and their fellow citizens.
This explosive thriller has many twists and surprises. The plot draws readers into the world of White Supremacists, a frightening scenario that is unfortunately all too real.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the story?
Karin Slaughter: I have a lot of contacts in the FBI, Sheriff Department, and police force. They were all talking about the threats of domestic terrorism. I started thinking about this story three years ago. I tried to show how some former military and some in the police are disillusioned. There is only a handful of these jerks of bad people. What really upsets me as an American is we don’t solve problems anymore; in fact, we don’t even talk anymore.
EC: This novel has a correlation between white nationalist domestic terrorists and those with US military-backgrounds?
KS: These men come home from war feeling disenfranchised, broken, and discarded by their government. They took an oath to uphold the Constitution; yet, take another oath to support these groups. I read a survey of service people who were in Afghanistan that stated about 58% felt the war was useless. They felt that lives were lost over nothing. I think it is the most horrible thing a country can do is send out our military for something that turns meaningless. We are not taking care of our Vets enough, which is a recurring theme in all the wars. They feel abandoned, isolated, and angry.
EC: After what recently happened the plot seems very relevant today?
KS: I wrote the story a year ago. I am afraid it will only get worse because they seem to try to outdo each other. I wanted to make sure there is no political side. The problem with the Internet is if someone has this weird sick view they can find people who validates them and makes them feel normal. Whether someone is a Republican, Democrat, Independent, or Libertarian, everyone should want to push these White Supremacists underground. Even infamy is better than obsolescence.
EC: There does not seem to be much of a difference between Jihadist terrorists and White Supremacists?
KS: True. The recruitment is the same, as well as the behavior. They are taking over social media. They all are misogynists and want to control women. The problem is they are not stupid and are really smart. These terrorists obviously are not normal people, and want to destroy the parts of the world that make everything great.
EC: The character bad guys are horrific?
KS: My bad guys will never be a hero or the person who the reader can understand why they did it. I give readers the reason but it will never be valid. With Dash, the leader of the terrorist group, there is nothing redeemable about him. He is a racist and a murderer. So was his wife who in many ways is worse than him.
EC: But on the other hand your good guys are people readers will root for, like Will?
KS: He is an upright person. Will tries to make the right decisions, follow the law, and protects people. He is a counter balance to the vicious criminals that he must battle. I also like the fact he really respects women.
EC: Why did you make him dyslexic?
KS: I know about it because my sister has it. When we were growing up there was not enough information about it. Teachers thought of her as lazy and stupid. It really has traumatized her in some ways. I wanted to show through Will that he was stigmatized while growing up. Once Sara came into his life, she showed him that dyslexia is just a part of him like the color of his hair.
EC: You also explore rape?
KS: Statistically so many women have been sexually assaulted. My first novel, Blindsighted, had someone sexually assaulted. With Sara, who was raped while in college, I wanted to take her through recovery; yet, it was not something she just got over. She worked really hard to put her life back together. It was always my goal to have a female character talk about assault and for them to show it was not something anyone just gets over.
EC: How would you describe Sara?
KS: I wanted her to be someone who makes mistakes and is wrong occasionally. She has some self-doubt. Because she is so smart she can learn from her mistakes.
EC: How would you describe Sara and Will’s relationship?
KS: Solid. They love and care for each other. A good description of it is this book quote, “And the right man isn’t intimidated by a woman who’s comfortable with who she is.”
EC: The time angle allowed for plot tension?
KS: I wrote the same event from three different perspectives. When we wake up in the morning we never think this is going to turn out to be a horrible day. Through the use of time I wanted to slowly build the tension.
EC: A heads up about your next book?
KS: It will be a Will and Sara book and out next year. It is special because it is my 20th book and the 10th book in the Will series. Nothing will be made easy for Will as he battles the criminal element and not a terrorist.
Here’s a sneak peek into the book!
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