Will and Sara are called to a murder scene when the body of a ex-police officer is found in an abandoned warehouse, however Will’s day is about to get a whole lot worse as they discover another victim has left the scene and the evidence seems to indicate it is Will’s wife, Angie Polaski. Judging by the blood loss, Sara determines they need to find Angie quickly before she bleeds to death but Angie is hard to find at the best of times.
Matters are further complicated when Will discovers the warehouse is owned by one of Atlanta’s highest profile athletes – the same athlete Will has been trying to convict on a brutal rape charge. However, Marcus Rippy has expensive lawyers and an image team who will do just about anything to protect their client. As the stakes get higher, Will’s relationship with Sara reaches breaking point as his ties to Angie and their painful past cause havoc on his personal and professional life.
The Kept Women is a welcome return to the Will Trent series after a three year hiatus in which Karin Slaughter has been concentrating on standalone novels. The eighth instalment sees Will at crisis point as his past and future collide spectacularly when he is finally forced to choose between the two women in his life. Will has fallen in love with Sara Linton and things have been going well for them despite the baggage they both carry, however Angie proves to be a big thorn in Sara’s side as we learn how Angie had been stalking her and sending her nasty messages. When Will learns what Angie has been doing, he makes the usual excuses on her behalf, but this infuriates Sara who just wants Will to be on her side.
The book is separated into different sections, with the first half focusing on the race against time to save Angie, as well as Will and Sara’s relationship issues. As the plot progresses Will is the most fragile I have ever seen him and while his struggle is sometimes painful to witness, it is absolutely necessary for his character because he has been treading water in the previous books and he needs a shock event to push him over the edge. Will’s trauma also affects those around him, especially Sara who begins to doubt whether they have a future together and she has to face a few home truths herself. The others affected are Amanda, Will’s acid-tongued boss, who has always had a maternal interest in Will’s well-being in her own unique way, but Will’s fragility causes her to curb her sharp comments and she is there for him in a way we have never seen before. That in itself is telling.
Just as Will has the unenviable task of trying to identify a gruesome body as Angie, the woman herself calls him and the rug is pulled from under our feet as we realise Angie is very much alive. Well, actually, it’s not much of a surprise as it is pretty obvious which is why I’m revealing it. The next section of the book goes back in time a few weeks which gives us the opportunity to find out what happened to Angie and why certain things have played out they way they did. Since Angie is also narrating this section, we learn more about her troubled past which does help you understand why Angie behaves the way she does, but just as you are starting to feel a bit of sympathy, she ruins it completely by behaving in a vile manner.
Angie is working for the same team who protect Marcus Rippy and it seems she was the one who made Will’s rape case fall apart, but we soon learn she has ulterior motives and her attention is focused on another athlete altogether – or rather his wife who is being abused. The plot is convoluted with a lot of revelations so it is hard to keep track of everything as Angie’s past tangles with the present and she has to make some hard decisions. Unfortunately for Angie, those decisions have consequences and it will ultimately lead her to betraying the one person who has stood by her through everything – Will. When Will learns the extent of Angie’s actions, he is so deeply wounded, he finally cuts all ties with her and it is a painful parting of the ways.
However, the breakdown in Angie and Will’s relationship is good news for Sara as Will realises he never loved Angie as deeply as he loves Sara, and although Sara doesn’t get as much to do in this book, she still has to work out a few things for herself. With Angie hopefully out of the picture for good, I’m excited to see how Sara and Will move on from here as their relationship takes on a more serious note.