The Good Daughter

by Karin Slaughter
2017 Harper Collins

Method of selection: Titles that rhyme with the author’s name (other possibilities include Edgar Allen Poe’s Go Dog Go, and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s Le Grande Poopery)
First sentence: Samantha Quinn felt the stinging of a thousand hornets inside her legs as she ran down the long, forlorn driveway toward the farmhouse.
Worst sentence: She moved more slowly toward the house on rubbery legs, because she wasn’t the moron who couldn’t reach back and wait for a baton to be slapped into her hand.

Karin Slaughter likes adjectives. And metaphor. In fact she asphyxiates her stories with them like a baby choking on its own spittle (which is a simile). The driveway is “forlorn”. There were “a thousand hornets inside her legs” and she had “skin as pale as an envelope”. “The hornets moved into her lungs” before sweat “turned her ponytail into a thick rope” and her “tendons sent out a high-pitched wail”.

Metaphors and adjectives are the special sauces shitty book writers use to dress up their shitty storytelling burgers, which are mostly lettuce and contain neither meat nor bun. They are the shitty icing on the cake of a big floury cakeformed nothingness that is shitty icing top to bottom and also you keep finding tiny bugs in the icing and the bugs are anti-Semitic. These authors use metaphors and adjectives like a man at the county fair runs the ferris wheel a little too fast to cover up that he has genital warts. And I realize I’m using metaphors and adjectives (very deftly) to make this point. However, if you removed all the gratuitous adjectives and metaphors from this book, all that would be left is a tiny pamphlet, its corners and edges worn, given to you perhaps by the young misguided shaven follower of a weird culty Hindu sect you’ve never heard of but which has been around for like 300 years. But, way less interesting than that.

For comparison, if you removed all the gratuitous adjectives and metaphors from my reviews, you would just be left with my sadness.

Here’s a tip for aspiring writers: when writing a frantic or suspenseful opening sequence, refrain, as much as possible, from using the word “bongoed”. It kind of wrecks the ambiance of the thing. Unless it is the story of the world’s greatest bongo artist, murdered mid-bongo while taking a car ride just days before his upcoming wedding.

Also “higgledy-piggledy” is a word unfunny people use in an attempt to be funny. It’s okay if you’re not a funny person. Nobody hates you for it. I mean nobody is ever going to love you but by using “higgledy-piggeledy” you also ensure nobody will ever touch your naked body either.

The only thing I liked about this book was the puff quote from James Patterson on the back of the dust cover: “The Good Daughter is Karin Slaughter’s most ambitious, most emotional, and best novel. So far, anyway.” That is funny both for how backhanded his compliment is, and also because our best evidence indicates that James Patterson doesn’t know how to read. It’s possible his puff quote had a less well-known co-author.