Slaughter's 'Fallen' more suspense than romance

Romantic suspense is not my thing (well, except for the excellent novels of my buddy Joyce Lamb, plug, plug, plug), but Book Nook Grand Exalted Leader Lindsey keeps sending ‘em my way, and for some reason I keep reading them. And in the case of Karin Slaughter’s “Fallen,” I was glad I did.

That’s because Slaughter is very skilled at crafting the suspense, and doesn’t get bogged down in a heavy focus on the romance.

The main character in “Fallen” is Faith Mitchell, a single mother twice over and officer with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. As the book opens, her mother, Evelyn — herself a pioneer as an officer with the Atlanta Police Department — has been kidnapped.

But let’s not be simplistic; when Faith goes to her mother’s house, where her mother had been baby-sitting her infant daughter, she not only finds her mother missing but one man dead in the house and another beating a third man. Faith dispatches the other two (including the beating victim) in short order. And that’s not a spoiler, because it all happens in the first 18 pages of the book.

So, as you can imagine, “Fallen” follows the kidnapping of Evelyn, and the efforts of members of the GBI and APB to identify the dead men in her house, figure out the reason for the kidnapping and find Evelyn’s kidnappers and, hopefully, Evelyn herself.

And of course it’s not a straightforward mission; the men remain a mystery, and Evelyn’s retirement had shortly followed a scandal involving a number of officers she supervised. The pool of possible suspects takes in not only every criminal with whom Evelyn had ever had contact, but also a number of dirty cops.

If all of that doesn’t present enough twists and turns, we have Sara Linton, friend of Faith’s who is a physician and has an off-again-on-again relationship with Faith’s partner, Will Trent. Add to the mix Amanda Wagner, Will and Faith’s boss and old friend of Evelyn, and, well, it’s quite a mashup.

But in a good way. I hate to use a cliche, but “Fallen” definitely is a page-turner. Slaughter provides the right balance, and she can build suspense, and pose mysteries, like few others.