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False Witness: Book summary and reviews of False Witness by Karin Slaughter

False Witness

by Karin Slaughter

False Witness by Karin Slaughter X
False Witness by Karin Slaughter
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  • Published Jul 2021
    448 pages
    Genre: Thrillers

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Book Summary

He saw what you did. He knows who you are…From the New York Times bestselling author of Pieces of Her and The Silent Wife, an electrifying standalone thriller.


Leigh Collier has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She's an up-and-coming defense attorney at a prestigious law firm in Atlanta, would do anything for her sixteen-year-old daughter Maddy, and is managing to successfully coparent through a pandemic after an amicable separation from her husband Walter.


But Leigh's ordinary life masks a childhood no one should have to endure … a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and ultimately destroyed by a brutal act of violence.


On a Sunday night at her daughter's school play, she gets a call from one of the firm's partners who wants Leigh to come on board to defend a wealthy man accused of multiple counts of rape. Though wary of the case, it becomes apparent she doesn't have much choice if she wants to keep her job. They're scheduled to go to trial in one week. When she meets the accused face-to-face, she realizes that it's no coincidence that he's specifically asked for her to represent him. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he may know what happened over twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades avoiding her past.


Suddenly she has a lot more to lose than this case. The only person who can help is her younger, estranged sister Callie—the last person Leigh would ever want to drag into this after all they've been through. But with the life-shattering truth in danger of being revealed, she has no choice...

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Media Reviews

"[S]uperb...A shocking tragedy at the end will keep readers transfixed. Slaughter is writing at the top of her game." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Slaughter doesn't save her twists for the end, instead peppering them throughout the intricately layered story amid stomach-churning near misses and gripping character revelations. Equal parts hyperrealistic thriller and epic tragedy, Slaughter's latest is pitch-perfect storytelling." - Booklist (starred review)

"Karin Slaughter's False Witness is a twisty, searingly contemporary mystery steeped in a dark past, and she weaves a story that catches your breath and keeps you gasping and guessing until the end." - Stacey Abrams

"Slaughter has written a wickedly sharp and arresting tour de force that blends a riveting plot and emotional subterfuge with the kind of propulsive prose that makes False Witness absolutely unputdownable." - Lauren Francis-Sharma, author of Book of the Little Axe

This information about False Witness was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Cloggie Downunder

a brilliant read as always
False Witness is the fourth stand-alone novel by best-selling American author, Karin Slaughter. Leigh Collier has only worked for mega legal firm, Bradley, Canfield and Marks since COVID shut down her sole practice a year ago, so she’s surprised to get a call from partner Cole Bradley. Apparently, the client, Andrew Trevor Tenant is the scion of luxury car dealership chain, Tenant Automotive Group, and has insisted she represent him.

Andrew has been charged with a particularly violent rape and aggravated assault, has dismissed his lawyer two days earlier, and his trial starts in just over a week. Even as she is introduced, in the opulent partners’ conference room, to Andrew, his fiancée and his mother, Leigh is puzzled by their request.

It’s the smirk that she recognises from some twenty-three years earlier, and her unease quickly turns to dread as Andrew later hints at impossible knowledge of a crime committed by two teenaged sisters. The details of his own alleged crime, and possible earlier ones, unsettle her deeply. What does he know, and what does he want?

Callie and Harleigh emerged from a dysfunctional childhood and adolescence, Callie’s cheerleading injuries producing a junkie, Harleigh’s hard work and determination yielding a lawyer. Neither would claim to be a saint, both have spent time in juvie, but if Andrew knows about this incident from their past, then exposure will demolish the lives they are living now.

Faced with the dilemma that pits justice, her reputation as a lawyer, and her job against the safety and sanity of her husband, her sixteen-year-old daughter and her sister, can Leigh do her job, act within the law in defending this psychopath and still somehow remove his power to harm? Or does she submit to his control? And for how long?

Her sister Callie, a graduate with honours of the school of hard knocks, plays by a very different rulebook, and the implied threat to her niece has made her very angry indeed. To what lengths will she go to neutralise the menace he poses?

What a talented author is Karin Slaughter! She manages to take some very gritty subjects (the poor management of drug addiction, the grooming of children by paedophiles, discrimination in sexual assault cases, to name a few) and build a story that addresses these convincingly, if quite graphically. The narrative is filled with tension, relieved occasionally by traces of black humour, and a dash of romance. There are red herrings and twists, some of which will have the reader gasping.

Slaughter is skilled at creating both characters to care for (and get choked up about in certain emotional moments) and characters to thoroughly despise (several of those are offered here), and has the reader cheering on these two strong women, for all their very human flaws, as they face a test of wits and guts. Two men who provide solid support also deserve admiration.

Slaughter does not shy away from the existence of the COVID pandemic, does not set her novel in an alternative present that knows no virus, but rather, realistically includes it in her story with the mention of Zoom, masks, distancing, hand sanitising, and with protagonists who are survivors of it, giving her novel authenticity without overwhelming it. A brilliant read, as always.


False Witness, an irritant.
Have read many of Slaughter's books. Enjoyed them all, until this one. Why she chose to constantly remind the reader of Covid-19 and the asinine protocols it invoked is hard to grasp. Filling space with all the trivial details of the protocols. Books of this nature should allow you to escape, not remind you of an inane time. Could not get past the third chapter.


A fictional piece of Covid propaganda
A gripping and dark story completely ruined by the constant Covid references from start to finish. As the story takes place during 2020/2021 no reference to the pandemic would be rather odd but I counted over 95 references throughout the book virtually all of which are unnecessary, hold no bearing to the story and certainly do not add any value to the reader. Derogatory trite language covidiots, anti vaxxers, superspreaders, Corona cannon fodder, constant talk about mask wearing for no reason other than to mention it. A masterclass in propaganda. The authors note also adds to the bewildering lack of knowledge, ignorance and naivety of the author.

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Author Information

Karin Slaughter Author Biography

Photo: Alison Rosa

Karin Slaughter is one of the world's most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her 21 novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling stand-alone novels Pretty Girls, The Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta. Her stand-alone novel Pieces of Her is in development with Netflix, starring Toni Collette, and the Grant County and Will Trent series are in development for television.

Link to Karin Slaughter's Website

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