In 1975, Amanda Wagner is still new on the job, and has no respect whatsoever from the male counterparts of the police force. She is a woman and should not be there. Her incredibly influential father, Duke Wagner, is not running his section of the Atlanta Police Force anymore due to having been fired over some politics and a new mayoral run. However, he is fighting the dismissal in court, and hopes to return soon. This may not be the best of news for Amanda, seeing as she will be directly under her father, and he will have final say in her work and what not. Evelyn Mitchell returns to the force after a maternity break, ready to rumble. Lieutenant Hodge assigns them a case as Techwood Homes after a lawyer in a blue suit pitches up and has a hissy fit. They are supposed to go investigate a rape, but all the find is a drug addict hooker named Jane Delray in an apartment screaming about missing prostitutes and nobody looking for them.
Amanda and Evelyn have major issues when Amanda feels Evelyn is a loose cannon. After almost having been raped in Techwood Homes, the pimp in question, Juice, is arrested. Later, however, there is a “suicide” at the flats. The lawyer that they saw threatening Hodge identifies her as his missing sister, Lucy Bennett, though Amanda and Evelyn know the deceased to be Jane Delray, Wondering why Hank misidentified her, the women begin an investigation. They get endless hell for it at the police station as well as from all the men. They suffer terrible injustices at the hands of the men, but are intent on investigation the missing women properly, even if nobody else wants to. They know they are up for the job, and that the men will never do a proper and thorough job.
In the present day, however, Georgia Bureau of Investigation agent Will Trent is trying to work out everything about the new relationship that he has with his new girlfriend, Dr Sara Linton. She knows so little about him, and he tries to let her into his life and mind more, though he is afraid it will cost them their relationship. His wife, Angie Trent, is not helping matters. However, one night while sharing some of his childhood with Sara, Amanda Wagner, his boss, pitches up at the children’s home he grew up in. After an accident, she tells him that his father was paroled and is out of prison. Will’s entire world collapses, and his pain, anger and rage set in, complicating his and Sara’s relationship further.
Soon a student goes missing, and everyone knows without a doubt that Will’s father must be behind it. The MO is exactly the same as the one that was used all those years ago before Will was born. The man is living in the lap of luxury, and this serves no further purpose than to drive Will insane. His mother died at the hands of the animal, as did innumerable other women. How could he be walking the streets? Will’s partner, Faith Mitchell, is trying to keep him together. Whatever happened, they will be able to track him down, keep an eye on him. Amanda has already seen to that. There is no way that the man would ever repeat the atrocities of his past, not if they can help it. Everyone is hoping against hope that the missing college student has nothing to do with what happened all those years ago.
Will is afraid. Will Sara see the evil of his father stamped into him? Is he really the product of such a monster? Will Sara reject him if she learns too much about his past, seeing as she came from a perfect home, and cannot possibly understand all that he went through? Will he ever be able to boot Angie successfully out of his life to continue their relationship without issues? Is Will’s father responsible for the missing girls? Does he hold the fate of the student and the prostitute in his hands?
Criminal earns a solid 8.5/10. This was a brilliant story, very in depth, very well put together and great characters, growth and emotion. Getting background on Amanda Wagner and Evelyn Mitchell was great, as well as some history about how some jobs were just perceived to be for men and others exclusively for women, and the way there was different treatment for everyone. It also touches on desegregation in the South, and how it was not always embraced, and that the racism went both ways. The killer that they were hunting was crazy. I liked the way the story flicked between the past and the present, giving you a nice outline of the story and the events that transpired to bring us to where we were in the book. Reading about Will’s origins was definitely not easy, and I felt more sorry for him than I ever imagined I could. The worst was not the worst, as I had suspected, there was more. His relationship with Sara was pulled into question in this book, but also leaps and bounds were made in bringing them together more and making them better together. I still miss Jeffrey, though his presence is diminishing more and more around Sara when she is with Will.