ART BEAT: Author returns to Norcross Barnes & Noble

Holley Calmes

Holley Calmes

Atlanta's Karin Slaughter is petite, blonde, vivacious and brilliant. She neither looks nor acts like the author of murder mysteries that leave little to the imagination. However, her novels have enjoyed inclusion on the New York Times Best Seller list and have been translated into numerous foreign languages.

Her new book, "Broken," debuts Tuesday, the same day she will kick off her book tour by appearing at the Norcross Barnes & Noble at 7 p.m. The store is in The Forum at 5141 Peachtree Parkway.

"Broken" will take Slaughter's characters from Atlanta back to the fictitious Grant County where her original characters were developed. Described as "an unforgettable story of raw emotions, a deadly and layered game of betrayal, and a man's determination to expose the most painful of human truths," the book finds Atlanta Special Agent Will Trent coming to assist Dr. Sara Linton on her own turf. Fans of Slaughter's books are waiting with bated breath to continue the relationship between these two complex characters.

Launching the book tour in Norcross is an honor for the store, but Slaughter has good reasons for doing so.

"There is a wonderful writer's group based in that store," she said. "It's great being around people who love to write. I always try to have something new to discuss with them."

Slaughter also praises the expertise of the store's special events coordinator, Carla Wilson.

Tuesday's event will be the first of many appearances for Slaughter, including an extensive international tour.

"I will be making 10 stops in the U.S. this time. Then I will be going to England in July and Germany in August," she said.

Slaughter even has a large following in Bulgaria. The author visited Dubai last year and was amazed at the response from her fans there, many of them women wearing traditional head scarves.

Slaughter's books often delve into the rather grisly details of murder and the gory aftermath. To be able to write accurately about such issues, she has done a lot of research with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations and has witnessed autopsies.

Contrary to what one sees on such television fare as "CSI," Slaughter is impressed by the respect the coroners have for the bodies on their tables.

"Real bodies look fake, and on TV, the fake bodies look real," she said. "I am very impressed by the dignity and respect with which coroners approach their subjects. Whether it is a homeless person, a criminal or a victim, they treat everyone with respect. There are no jokes and background music like you see on some television shows."

Slaughter has worked with Vernon Keenan of the GBI, tagging along for training exercises.

"I was raised to respect law enforcement, and I write about cops in a responsible way," she said. "Plus, they like to talk about their jobs."

One exercise Slaughter witnessed involved a simulation of a school shooting in an abandoned schoolhouse in Carrollton.

"Even though I knew it was a fake situation, my adrenaline was pumping," she said. "Then I remembered that these people have to be prepared for all contingencies every day."

Slaughter enjoys meeting her fans and the public in general, regardless of nationality. Her appearance at this Barnes & Noble store last year was marked by laughter and fascinating stories. Tuesday's event will be crowded, so plan to come early.

For more information about Slaughter, her books and "Broken," visit her website at www.karinslaughter.com. For more information on the Barnes and Noble store, visit http://store-locator.barnesandnoble.com/store/2070.

Holley Calmes is a freelance writer and public relations consultant specializing in the arts. E-mail her at hcalmes@mindspring.com.