A small Georgia town erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it’s only when town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton does the autopsy that the full extent of the killer’s twisted work becomes clear. Sara’s ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, leads the investigation — a trail of terror that grows increasingly macabre when another local woman is found crucified a few days later.
But he’s got more than a sadistic serial killer on his hands, for the county’s sole female detective, Lena Adams — the first victim’s sister — wants to serve her own justice. But it is Sara who holds the key to finding the killer. A secret from her past could unmask the brilliantly malevolent psychopath .. or mean her death.
It’s been awhile since I’ve read the Grant County series which introduced medical examiner Sara Linton and I’ve decided to go back to the beginning of her story.
Blindsighted isn’t my favourite of the series, mainly because I found the murder story more gruesome than chilling and the culprit was a major disappointment. Instead, I see the book more as a setting up of the premise behind the series and an introduction to the characters who appear throughout.
Our main protagonists are Sara Linton, a paediatrician who doubles as a medical examiner, and her ex-husband, Jeffrey Tolliver, who is the chief of police. Sara and Jeffrey have been divorced for two years due to his infidelity but it is clear they have a complex relationship and the nature of their jobs ensure they pretty much see each other on a daily basis. There are still enough sparks between them to make it obvious Sara still has feelings for Jeffrey but she has been hurt badly and isn’t ready to forgive him. I like the relationship between the couple, however it took me several books before I developed an emotional attachment to them.
The story begins with Sara discovering the battered body of Sibyl Adams, a blind teacher, who has been savagely attacked in the restroom of the local diner. Sara battles in vain to save Sibyl’s life but her injuries are too extensive and Sara is appalled by the extent of the damage revealed during the later autopsy. While the death itself is shocking, you don’t really feel the impact it has on the community because Slaughter’s focus is more insular in that her attention is on her main circle of characters rather than the town as a whole.
Of course, the biggest impact of Sibyl’s death is on her twin sister, Lena, who is one of Jeffrey’s detectives. Now, if you have read my reviews on Karin Slaughter’s later books, you will know I have a very hard time with the character of Lena Adams and I cannot for the life of me understand why this woman was ever allowed on the police force. Lena has a complicated background and while she loved Sibyl, they’ve grown apart as adults, and Lena is having a hard time coming to terms with Sibyl’s murder. While Lena obviously wants to bring the killer to justice, she acts without thinking and can’t seem to follow a single order which often has disastrous consequences. All of this seems perfectly natural for someone who is grieving, but this is just an extension of Lena’s normal destructive behaviour and it makes her very unlikeable.
The murder plot is well crafted and by the time the second body turns up, it becomes increasingly obvious the killer has some connection with Sara. The ritualistic nature of the murders is nothing new, as there are countless books on the same theme, however the reasons behind it are never really explained adequately. As aspects of the cases remind Sara of her own troubled past, the main focus of the story moves towards Sara’s revelation of her own experiences with being raped and Jeffrey’s reactions to it. As Sara’s own history becomes more prominent, the murders seem to be pushed more into the background and when the killer is revealed it falls rather flat.
I found it a bit hard to swallow that Jeffrey had never been told about his wife’s violent rape considering his job and the sensationalist nature of the court case that followed. It may have taken place in Atlanta but Jeffrey seems to have a wide network of friends in law enforcement so you’d have thought at least one of them would’ve made a comment at some point.
Despite the areas of the book I didn’t like, I enjoyed Karin Slaughter’s writing enough to continue with this series and the books definitely improve over time.