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False Witness

by Karin Slaughter

Publishers Weekly In 1998, teen sisters Callie and Leigh, the heroines of this superb thriller from bestseller Slaughter (The Silent Wife), murder Buddy Waleski, who sexually abused them for years while they babysat his son, Trevor, in Chicago. They leave the Waleski kitchen spotless after cleaning up any evidence of the murder and hide Buddy’s body. In 2021, Callie, who became addicted to heroin after a gymnastics accident left her in constant pain, and Leigh, a defense attorney, unexpectedly confront the past after Leigh’s boss assigns the case of an alleged serial killer to her. During their first meeting, Andrew Tenant tells Leigh he’s actually the little boy she once babysat—Trevor Waleski—and implies that he knows the sisters killed his father. Callie and Leigh work urgently to determine how and what he knows. Breaking into the abandoned former Waleski house, Callie finds a crawl space with cameras aimed both at the kitchen where Buddy’s murder occurred and the living room couch where Callie was repeatedly raped as a 12-year-old by Buddy. If Leigh doesn’t secure a not guilty verdict, the pathological Andrew threatens to retaliate by releasing his father’s videos to the media and murdering her 16-year-old daughter. A shocking tragedy at the end will keep readers transfixed. Slaughter is writing at the top of her game. Agent: Victoria Sanders, Victoria Sanders & Assoc. (July)

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Book list Slaughter shines an intense spotlight on a new normal laced with COVID-19 protocols and a cast of survivors battling a ruthless pandemic, a serial sadist, and a lifetime of unbeatable odds. When Andrew Tenant, the heir to Atlanta’s most prestigious auto empire, asks Leigh Collier to lead his defense against rape charges, she feels her suburban fantasy life being snatched away, tossing her back into her squalid childhood home, ducking punches and plotting her escape. As teens, Leigh and her younger sister, Callie, babysat Andrew. They also killed his father, Buddy, when he attempted to kill Callie after years of sexual abuse. Andrew doesn’t waste time revealing his agenda: he knows what they did, and he plans to continue preying on women while he draws a torturous penance from them. Leigh immediately springs Callie from her latest flophouse to strategize how they’ll keep what they did hidden. Leigh, haunted by survivor’s guilt over Callie’s abuse, and Callie, struggling to resist the comfort of a heroin binge, begin using their street smarts and working courtroom angles to wage war against Andrew and finally find peace in their unbreakable connection. Slaughter doesn’t save her twists for the end, instead peppering them throughout the intricately layered story amid stomach-churning near misses and gripping character revelations. Equal parts hyperrealistic thriller and epic tragedy, Slaughter’s latest is pitch-perfect storytelling.

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Kirkus A master of the no-holds-barred law enforcement thriller turns to legal intrigue, with shattering results. A week before he’s to stand trial for the aggravated assault and rape of DataTel district manager Tammy Karlsen, car-dealership scion Andrew Tenant fires his lawyer and asks for a new one: Leigh Collier, a rising star at an Atlanta white-shoe firm. Originally baffled by the request, Leigh quickly realizes that her new client has a special reason to have asked for her: He’s recognized her from a magazine photo as the older sister of Callie, the babysitter who killed his father, Buddy Waleski, when his latest pedophile assault on her turned violent 23 years ago. In fact, the truth is even darker than that. Leigh was an active participant in the killing. Now she's determined to do everything she can to torpedo the defense she's preparing for Andrew, who’s accused of stabbing Tammy Karlsen in exactly the way Callie stabbed his father, while persuading both her client and her watchful senior partner that she’s doing her utmost to represent him. As she learns more and more particulars about the case and her client, Leigh realizes that her plan doesn’t go nearly far enough. Andrew is guilty of this assault and others, but he doesn’t just want her to get him off: He plans to blackmail her into complying with a potentially endless series of demands. How can she strike back at a monster who holds all the cards? Only by tapping into the depthless power of sisterhood with Callie, who’s descended into addiction but still loves Leigh with a ferocity that makes the pair of them as dangerous as the man who’s targeted them. Combines disarming sensitivity to the nuances of the tangled relations among the characters with sledgehammer plotting. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Library Journal No word yet on what transpires in this stand-alone from the hugely best-selling founder of the Save the Libraries project. With a 250,000-copy first printing.

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