I do have a "What I read in July" post coming up next week, but I thought this deserved a review all to itself.
" This woman's lib stuff works for rich girls, but all you've got going for you is your face and your figure. You need to take advantage of both before you lose them"
So says Terry Lawson, uncle of Atlanta Police Officers Jimmy and Maggie Lawson. There's a shooter on the loose - he's targeting cops, and he's not showing signs of slowing down any time soon. When Jimmy's partner gets killed, Maggie (along with new recruit Kate Murphy) steps things up a gear and tries to get some answers - but this does not go down well with the male officers. This book covers the events of one week. Will the shooter be caught, or will there be more casualties first?
Sexism, misogyny, racism, segregation and homophobia are rampant on the streets and in homes. Maggie raises some really valid theories about the killer, but is immediately dismissed and told to shut up. Her Uncle is in control of all the money in the household, and has no problem shutting Maggie up with his fists if he doesn't agree with what she says. The female officers are verbally abused, groped, and taunted by most of the men, and this is all completely expected. They expect the drawing of the penis on the ladies' changing room door every morning. They expect new recruits to be given the wrong size uniforms on purpose. They expect to be hit on, fondled, and groped. They expect to be called sugar, princess, doll, sweetheart. It's just what happens. The male officers do not want the women there, doing a man's job. Black officers and White officers agree only on one thing: that women should not be wearing that uniform.
Never in my life have I been more disgusted or annoyed while reading a book than I was by Terry Lawson in this book. He is vile, absolutely abhorrent. To think that there are men out there like that, with his viewpoint on society and on women (and there are, because I know it still exists) is beyond comprehension. He riled me something rotten, to the point that I was wishing for a bullet with his name on. I HATED him. The amount of adversity and downright bullshit those women had to put up with was unbelievable. They were every bit as intelligent as the males, moreso in some cases, but they were dismissed because of their sex.
The main character in this book for me is Atlanta. As Kate's father in the book says, "There is no one city" - two people could live in the same city for years and not experience the same things or see the same people or streets. Everything the female officers experience - that won't be experienced by their families or their friends. After reading this, I wanted to get a feel for the place, so I had a search around - album.atlantahistorycenter.com has an amazing collection of photographs. Just type 1975 into the search box and knock yourself out - I lost hours on that website.
The Atlanta Police Department have one of the most sophisticated websites I've seen in a long time. It has a detailed history of the force, as well as a current interactive map where you can zoom in on different zones and crimes committed. It has also finally reached staffing levels promised by a former Mayor - "2,000 by 2,000".
I found a video from 1974 by a Grady High school student about noise pollution - watch it, it will give you a great idea of what the area was like.
Also worth a read is this article from Atlanta News Anchor Monica Pearson, who became the first black person AND the first woman to read the six o'clock news on TV in Atlanta in 1975 (beating out Oprah Winfrey in the process). What she experienced from some viewers is pretty much in line with the book - pulled over by a condescending prick of a cop for no reason, receiving comments from viewers like " Put a bone in your nose and go back to Africa" or "N*gger, get off the air".
Karin Slaughter herself uploaded a video of an interview with a female police officer in Atlanta in 1975, I think that you should watch it if you're planning on reading Cop Town. It gives such a great insight into the minds of women like Kate and Maggie at the time.
The two main female characters - Maggie and Kate - were brilliant. I feel a little sad that the book is over and I don't get to read any more about them! The story itself was fantastic too. I didn't guess anything and I was in no rush to get to the end. Everything was wrapped up perfectly.
One of the best books I've read in 2014 by far, thank you to the publisher for granting my request to read it on Netgalley.