Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Faith Mitchell draws her weapon and carefully enters the blood-spattered kitchen of a house in suburban Atlanta. The only person in the room is already dead, so she moves deeper into the house. In a bedroom she finds an Asian man holding a pistol to the head of a Latino. Within minutes, both men are dead. The woman who lives in the house - Evelyn Mitchell, Faith's mother - is nowhere to be found.
Evelyn Mitchell had been captain of the APD's narcotics division five years ago when five of her squad members were convicted of corruption and theft. Though never charged herself, Mitchell quietly retired and became just Grandma. Has it all come back now to haunt her? It sure looks like it has, as dead members of Atlanta's two most violent gangs lie in Evelyn's little ranch house. It falls to Faith's partner, Will Trent, to investigate the kidnapping - the second time he's investigated her mother.
Trent and boss Amanda Wagner make the rounds of Asian and Latin gang leaders, with stops at a couple of state prisons to question Evie's former squad members. The consensus? the kidnappers are a youth movement, their plans based on TV show and movie plots. Just why they were after Evelyn was a mystery, one that Will has to solve while Evelyn still remains alive.
With Fallen, Atlanta-based mystery writer Karin Slaughter completes the merger of her twin series starring cop Will Trent and Dr. Sara Linton - accent on the “merging” part (oooh-la-la). Four years after her husband's violent death, Linton is on the cusp of moving on, and she's set her sights on Trent as her go-to guy. Faith sits this case out, leaving the action to her partner and Linton - and to Amanda Wagner, who calls in an amazing (and sometimes amusing) array of other members of the "old girl network" to lend a hand with the investigation.
Though Slaughter depends heavily on coincidences to move her plot forward - really, Atlanta's a lot bigger than the action in Fallen would probably require – she gives her readers a plot that takes some most surprising twists. Whether the old saw about women cops starting out as meter maids and ending up deputy chiefs is overused or not, you can't accuse Slaughter of not inventing a couple of fresh twists to dress out her plot - and they're definitely not the sort of plot twist you'd get from the likes of James Lee Burke or Michael Connelly.
There's something for everyone here: Slaughter manages to craft a police procedural that plays the violence of a Paretsky thriller against romantic interludes worthy of the O'Shaughnessy sisters. Whatever floats your boat, though - Fallen is clearly one hundred percent Slaughter.