False Witness – Karin Slaughter

Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 440
Release Date: July 20, 2021


Leigh Coulton has worked hard to build what looks like a normal life. She has a good job as a defence attorney, a daughter doing well in school, and even her divorce is relatively civilised – her life is just as unremarkable as she’d always hoped it would be.


But Leigh’s ordinary life masks a childhood which was far from average… a childhood tarnished by secrets, broken by betrayal, and finally torn apart by a devastating act of violence.


Then a case lands on her desk – defending a wealthy man accused of rape. It’s the highest profile case she’s ever been given – a case which could transform her career, if she wins. But when she meets the accused, she realises that it’s no coincidence that he’s chosen her as his attorney. She knows him. And he knows her. More to the point, he knows what happened twenty years ago, and why Leigh has spent two decades running.


If she can’t get him acquitted, she’ll lose much more than the case. The only person who can help her is her younger, estranged sister Calli, the last person Leigh would ever want to ask for help. But suddenly she has no choice… 


False Witness is Karin Slaughter’s latest standalone novel that incorporates what’s been plaguing the world for the past year: COVID-19. When Slaughter first announced False Witness, I was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t the next instalment in the Will Trent series. However, after having finished the novel I’m delighted to report that False Witness is Slaughter at her best.

False Witness reminds me of The Good Daughter by Slaughter. Both focus on a tumultuous sisterly relationship and the law rather than a police procedural. Slaughter’s representation of family dynamics and relationships are second to none. She has her finger on the pulse of these deeply emotional and complicated relationships.

False Witness is the first novel I’ve read that incorporates COVID-19. I was skeptical of this inclusion because it hits too close to home. However, Slaughter didn’t make False Witness about COVID-19, instead it’s a backdrop grounding the story and bringing context to a lot of issues real people are facing because of the pandemic.

This novel is one that you should go into without reading the synopsis. I didn’t read the synopsis beforehand and I’m glad I didn’t. All I’ll say is that the first two chapters are easily some of the best opening chapters I’ve ever read. Slaughter sets the tone and pace of the novel in these two chapters, so if you didn’t like them you won’t enjoy the rest of the novel.

Overall, False Witness will certainly be making it on my top books of 2021 list. Though it’s a gruesome novel about rape and murder, at its heart is story about sisters, family, and length people go to protect them. False Witness is one of those novels with an unrelenting pace that will make your jaw drop in the first two chapters and never allow you to recover.


Have you read False Witness? What did you think?

4 thoughts on “False Witness – Karin Slaughter

  1. I would be a little hesitant to read a story with Covid in it, but it sounds like this is worth it. Definitely adding this to my list!

  2. Overall the book was ok, but way too long- it dragged on. Like most of Karin Slaughter books the, characters are unlikable, especially Leigh, the main character. Also, the constant references to Kurt Cobain was tiresome.
    The constant men are bad and white people have all the advantages theme took away from the overall story.

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