Triptych by Karin Slaughter



In the city of Atlanta, women are dying—at the hands of a killer who signs his work with a single, chilling act of mutilation. Leaving behind enough evidence to fuel a frenzied police hunt, this cunning madman is bringing together dozens of lives, crossing the boundaries of wealth and race. And the people who are chasing him must cross those boundaries too.

Among them is Michael Ormewood, a veteran detective whose marriage is hanging by a thread—and whose arrogance and explosive temper are threatening his career. And Angie Polaski, a beautiful vice cop who was once Michael’s lover before she became his enemy.


Triptych was released just after the final Grant County series when most of Slaughter’s readers were mourning the loss of a much loved character for which the author had to post an explanatory letter on her website. It’s not easy replacing a beloved character and when I read Triptych the first time, I had no idea it was the start of a new series featuring Will Trent. Slaughter pulls a fast one though as Michael Ormewood appears to be the main protagonist throughout the first few chapters until he fades into the background so John Shelley and Will Trent can come to the forefront.

A triptych is described as a painting divided into three sections, or three carved panels hinged together which can be closed to reveal another image or kept open. The theme is represented in our three main protagonists: Michael, John and Will, all of whom are deeply flawed characters with something to hide. Each of these men is given their own section in the book and each part reveals something that comes together to reveal the whole picture behind the crimes being perpetrated. The only other character given her own point of view is Angie Polaski, an undercover police officer, who is connected to all three men. Angie and Will have known each other since childhood and shared the same abusive past; Angie and Michael work at the same precinct and were lovers; and, Angie gets to know John while working undercover as a prostitute.

Throughout much of the book, Slaughter plays with our perceptions as she deliberately withholds vital information about characters during certain scenes so the revelations, when they come, hit hard. In another twist, the identity of the culprit is revealed to the reader almost half way through but we have to watch as the police slowly come to the same conclusion. As is typical with Slaughter’s novels, the murder scenes are graphic and there is a lot of violence but I like the fact she doesn’t pull her punches. There are also some wonderfully drawn characters, some of whom aren’t around for long, but they are all so wonderfully complex in their own way.

Triptych acts as a good introduction to Will Trent, however since I’ve read all of the series to date, I don’t think it is the best one and, for me at least, the series starts properly with Fractured. I love Will Trent though and Slaughter more than redeems herself for killing of that other character.