With her singular surname, it’s no surprise that bestselling crime writer Karin Slaughter (The Last Widow, Morrow, Aug.) was destined to write about crime. Slaughter laughs and says, “It was either that or become a serial killer.”

Her latest book, the ninth in the Will Trent series, featuring medical examiner Sara Linton and her Georgia Bureau of Investigation partner Will Trent, touches on two timely topics of particular concern to Slaughter: the militarization of the U.S. police force and white supremacy. “During the ’70s,” says Slaughter, “a lot of guys who came back from Vietnam weren’t comfortable in suits and ties, so they entered the police force and brought a military sensibility with them. The same thing is happening now because history repeats itself. We need to train these guys and women to handle the differences between being on a military force and a police force.”

The growth of white supremacist groups in the U.S. is another issue that Slaughter has been thinking about for the past five years. “Charlottesville put a face on it,” Slaughter says. “Unfortunately, this is not a new thing; it’s been going on for quite a while. The scary thing is how they’ve learned to blend into society. They’re smart, they’re all online and really keyed into each other, and they’re giving each other advice on how to infiltrate different groups. So they could be your next-door neighbor, your work partner, a police officer; they could be in the military—it’s just everywhere.”

Asked what she hopes readers will take away from The Last Widow, Slaughter notes, “There are a lot of twists and turns and shocks and all the sort of stuff that I’m known for—a little sex, a little violence. For me, crime fiction’s job is to hold a mirror up to society and say, ‘This is what life is like right now for all of us.’ That’s always my end goal—to write what I see.”

Although Slaughter has been to BookExpo several times, she’s more used to the outdoors and nonurban settings—she writes her books in a cabin in Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. “Being indoors isn’t natural for me,” says Slaughter. “But it’s great to be in a roomful of people who love reading and love books. It’s also a great opportunity for me not just as a writer but as a reader, because I’ve found some of my favorite books at BookExpo. It’s always nice to read books before anyone else can.”

Today, 8–9:30 a.m. Karin Slaughter will speak at the Adult Book & Author Breakfast, on the Main Stage.

Today, 1–1:45 p.m. Slaughter will sign at the Blackstone Audio booth (1411). Blackstone will be giving out a selection of CDs of past audiobooks by Slaughter, download links, and tote bags.