Book Talk: Secrets behind the thin blue line

Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:02am EDT
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By Elaine Lies

TOKYO (Reuters Life!) - Georgia FBI agent Faith Mitchell stops at her mother's house to pick up her infant daughter after work -- but her daughter is locked in a shed, there's blood on the front door, and no sign of her mother.

"Fallen," by Karin Slaughter, follows Mitchell as she goes in with her gun drawn, finds a hostage situation, shoots and kills one man, and ends up a suspect in the investigation that follows. The investigation stretches deep into her past and that of her mother, a former policewoman who resigned due to a corruption scandal.

Slaughter, who has written 11 books -- many of them bestsellers -- spoke with Reuters about her book and the pleasures and perils of writing a series.

Q: What gave you the idea for this book?

A: "I hang around a lot with agents from the GBI, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, and they let me go on a training exercise with them. I wasn't training but I watched them and they took over an abandoned school and did a school shooter simulation. I got to follow each agent through as they trained for what could very well be a likely scenario.

"Just walking behind them, I was so full of adrenaline and my heart was pounding, even though it wasn't real and they were using fake ammunition. Even after going through 40 times with 40 different agents, it was still edge-of-your-seat exhilarating, and I got home and started writing the opening to 'Fallen.'"

Q: Has this kind of thing been an interest of yours for a while?

A: "I was in Atlanta and was a kid during the Atlanta child murders, so that made me very aware of crime at an early age. I was always an avid reader and started reading 'True Crime.' Of course the details of the crimes are interesting to me but my focus in my reading and in my work is always what it does to the people it leaves behind. Because living in a period in Atlanta history when children are being murdered, and being a child myself, I really saw from an under-the-table view how people change toward each other. It really made my life very different. Suddenly we had this fear in us that we didn't have before, and that makes people different people.   Continued...