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FALLEN by Karin Slaughter: A Reader Group Guide

October 18th, 2012

Karin Slaughter Cover
“An amazing effort . . . This is [Karin] Slaughter’s best book to date, and readers unfamiliar with her work will find this one a perfect place to begin.”—Associated Press

There’s no police training stronger than a cop’s instinct. Faith Mitchell’s mother isn’t answering her phone. Her front door is open. There’s a bloodstain above the knob. Everything Faith learned in the academy goes out the window when she charges into her mother’s house, gun drawn. She sees a man dead in the laundry room, a hostage situation in the bedroom. What she doesn’t see is her mother. When the hostage situation turns deadly, Faith is left with too many questions. She’ll need the help of her partner, Will Trent, and trauma doctor Sara Linton to get some answers. But Faith isn’t just a cop anymore, she’s a witness—and a suspect. To find her mother, Faith will have to cross the thin blue line and bring the truth to light—or bury it forever.

Fallen by Karin Slaughter
Reader’s Group Questions

1.The story line in this book has an ever-present theme of the relationships between parents and children, especially between a mother and her child. What kind of relationship did you have with your parents as a child? As an adult? Are there any parallels between your own parental relationships and those of the characters?

2.Will is described as having “strangely dysfunctional relationships with all of the women in his life” (120). Do you agree with this assessment? By the end of the book, does it seem as if he is improving his relationships with women? How so?

3.There are many different women in this book with different roles in law enforcement. How are their positions similar? How are they different? Do you think it was easier for the younger women to establish their careers in what is still a male dominated line of work?

4.Do you think Will’s assumption of Evelyn’s involvement in her team’s corruption affected the way he pursued her kidnapping? Did Amanda’s withholding of information from Will affect the progression of the case?

5.When speaking on the subject of women and minorities trying to make careers in the police force in the 1960’s and 1970’s, Amanda says, “Every single day was a struggle to do right when everything around you was wrong” (119). What do you think she means by this? Do you think her perception of the situation was accurate?

6.When visiting Boyd Spivey in prison, Will reflects on the living situations of the prisoners and how they are de-humanized. He thinks of their living conditions as “heartbreaking”. When he considers the crimes that landed them in prison, however, he seems to change his mind. Do you agree with Will’s sentiments? Should you feel sympathy for the prisoners at all? Or do they deserve the treatment they receive?

7.Before Faith goes off to be questioned by the Atlanta police, Amanda hugs her and says, “You’ve got two minutes to pull yourself together. If these men see you cry, all you will be to them for the rest of your career is a useless woman” (139). Is this judgment accurate in your mind? If Faith were a man in the same situation, would crying elicit the same negative connotation?

8.“Mystery is good for a relationship,” Will says to Sara, in a joking manner (186). Do you think there is some truth to that statement? How could this “mystery” in both familial and romantic relationships be seen as a theme in the book?

9. A pregnant fourteen year-old is not common these days, though it’s not an usual occurrence, either. Back in the early 90s, when Jeremy was born, Faith and her family endured ostracization and alienation. In most areas of the United States today, that would not be the case. Have things changed for the better, or are they worse?

10. When reflecting on the secret that led to her kidnapping and torture, Evelyn thinks the kidnappers would not believe her because, “The truth was too disappointing. Too common” (205). What is your opinion of the true motivation behind the crime revealed at the end of the book? Do you think Evelyn is correct in thinking it disappointing and common?

11. The prisoners in the book have remarkable means of communicating both within the prison and with the outside world. Even prisoners like Boyd Spivey and Roger Ling, who should technically have no access to any information outside of their cells, are usually better informed than the GBI investigators visiting them. What, if anything, can and should be done to inhibit outside communication?

12. This novel is told through the viewpoints of several different characters. How does this technique aid the narrative? How does each point of view give the reader insight into the case?

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