Sara Linton, medical examiner in the small town of Heartsdale, Georgia, is called out to an apparent suicide on the local college campus. The mutilated body provides little in the way of clues — and the college authorities are eager to avoid a scandal — but for Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, things don’t add up.
Two more suspicious suicides follow, and a young woman is brutally attacked. For Sara, the violence strikes far too close to home. And as Jeffrey pursues the sadistic killer, he discovers that ex-police detective Lena Adams, now a security guard on campus, may be in possession of crucial information. But, bruised and angered by her expulsion from the force, Lena seems to be barely capable of protecting herself, let alone saving the next victim…
A Faint Cold Fear is the third instalment of the Grant County series which focuses on cases being investigated by medical examiner, Sara Linton, and her ex-husband, Jeffrey Tolliver. Sara is spending the afternoon with her sister, Tessa, and when Jeffrey calls her to the scene of a suicide, she takes Tessa with her to save some time but it is a decision Sara will have cause to regret when Tessa disappears. When Tessa is found nearby with severe stab wounds, Sara has to contain her emotions and remain calm as she fights to save her sister’s life. As Sara battles to save Tessa, realising it is already far too late for her unborn child, the scenes are particularly harrowing.
The police investigation regarding the suicides is probably one of my least favourites in the Grant County series as it pales considerably in comparison to the heightened emotions being experienced by Sara and her family. Jeffrey’s investigation seems to be thwarted at every turn by the abhorrent behaviour of Lena Adams who seems to be on another downward spiral. I have no idea why people care so much for Lena because I am so tired of her destructive behaviour and really wish she would just disappear, alas I know she sticks around for a couple more books. Lena really needs to be brought to task for her interference in this investigation but she always seems to get away with it because people feel sorry for her.
The crimes scenes are as gruesome as I’ve come to expect from Karin Slaughter with a little too much detail on what happens to piercings in sensitive areas when a body falls from a great height which will leave you shuddering. The case plot is well detailed and spins out nicely but I just could not work up any enthusiasm for it. It is the characters who lift this story from the mundane as they are all excellently portrayed as usual, although they don’t really evolve much in this instalment. Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship is at an impasse as Sara’s main attention is diverted by her sister’s plight, however there are definite hints of a decision being made towards reconciliation.