ABC's 'Will Trent' Adaptation Doesn't Just Follow Karin Slaughter's First Novel. Here's Why.

'Keep in mind, you don't come out the gate in the book knowing that Michael Ormewood's a bad guy,' Karin Slaughter said about her 'Triptych' novel.
by Danielle Turchiano — 

Jake McLaughlin and Erika Christensen in 'Will Trent'


If you are a fan of Karin Slaughter's Will Trent series of novels and you checked out the dramatic adaptation on ABC when it premiered earlier this month, you likely noticed a big elephant in the room in Michael Ormewood.

The — spoiler alert! — villain of the first book,

, is in the series (played by Jake McLaughlin) and, like in the novel, he does have both a professional and a sexual history with Angie (Erika Christensen). The two get partnered up in the premiere episode, and that certainly promises tension, and then in the second episode, he refuses to use the correct gender pronouns for someone he and Angie are interviewing. But thus far, nothing about him, nor their past, screams violent rapist and murderer in the series. Is that a layer to be peeled back later, as episodes go on?

"Every moment that Michael Ormewood is in that pilot, we made a deliberate choice to have him do some things that I thought were transgressive," co-showrunner Daniel Thomsen said at the Television Critics Association press tour panel for the show. "I thought he mistreated that college student that he interviews. He said some things that were inflammatory, and those were very specific choices. And the decision was to evolve that character in the direction that it's not exactly like he is in the books, but he's not going to be on a journey that is completely detached."

Rather than bring the book character of Sarah into the first season, the show wants to focus on the relationship between Will (Ramón Rodríguez) and Angie, and keeping Michael around as a foil for them will add to the drama in a different way than just lifting his story exactly as it is presented in Slaughter's pages.

"The book is the book and the show is the show, but what really matters is, they get what they're doing. They get the storytelling," Slaughter said. "Keep in mind, you don't come out the gate in the book knowing that Michael Ormewood's a bad guy."

The series is pulling story and crimes from more than one of Slaughter's novels, namely Broken, Unseen, and Fractured, co-showrunner Liz Heldens revealed. But the show will also expand the world to include cases that are new creations from the writers' room as well.

Will Trent, which has a Metascore of 70, airs at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on ABC. Watch a sneak peek at the next episode below and click here to read our interview with Christensen about the changes to Angie.