Synopsis: The killer strikes in plain sight . . . but you’ll never see it coming.
The mutilation murder of a young college professor paralyzes a tiny Georgian community. This hideous crime is the worst thing small-town pediatrician and coroner Sara Linton has ever seen—but only when the autopsy is complete is the intricate, terrible genius of a profoundly twisted psychopath truly revealed. As Sara’s ex-husband—Heartsdale police chief Jeffrey Tolliver—pursues an elusive fiend, Lena Adams—the victim’s sister and the county’s only female detective—swears she’ll have her personal vengeance. But their worst fears are realized by the macabre crucifixion of a second local woman: there is a serial slayer in their midst, one whose identity is hidden somewhere in Sara Linton’s secret past. And this killer has no intention of stopping . . . and will not be stopped.
For the first fifty pages or so, I thought I would give Blindsighted, Karin Slaughter’s debut novel (published in 2001) four stars. The setting (a small town in Georgia) and the main character were intriguing. The murder was sufficiently gruesome and puzzling. It seemed like Blindsighted was a well-written, entertaining thriller. However, the longer I read, the less I liked Slaughter’s writing. The crimes became unrealistic, the plotting was clunky, the characters went from interesting to grating. Slaughter had a literal Checkov’s gun, introducing a gun halfway through the novel which wasn’t used in the end. There was also a racist subplot that went nowhere, solved by a character – one who may have been involved in the incident, but because of the vague writing, you aren’t entirely sure – saying “I’ll handle it.” That’s the solution to the sub-plot. “I’ll handle it.” What’s worse than that solution is the Chief of Police accepts that as a resolution to a crime. I am more than a little astounded Slaughter didn’t have an editor or reader to call her on the more egregious faults in Blindsighted. If someone had used the red pen a little more liberally during the editing process, this novel could have been really good.
Something interesting to note: the novel was published in 2001, which means it was most likely written in the late 90s. The difference in technology was pretty striking. One mention of a cell phone and it was described as having a hollow sound. Remember when cell reception sucked, consistently ? There was also an entire chapter with an expert driving four hours from Atlanta to give the police chief and main character a lecture on a drug that today could be found by a quick Google search. The main character had a physical answering machine and a big deal was made about one of the victim’s sexuality. Sometimes, it is easy to forget how far we’ve come in 12 years.
Since the publication of Blindsighted, Slaughter has become an international bestseller. Not surprising, since Blindsighted slips effortlessly into the airport thriller genre - easily accessible to a wide swath of readers and mindlessly entertaining. With the exception of this novel and one other in the Grant County series, her books are consistently rated four stars on Amazon. With that in mind, and because I want to read a series set in a fictional small town (though I never got a very good indication of how large or small the town, whose name I can’t remember, was), I will read, Kisscut, the next book in the series. If nothing else, it will help me achieve my goal of reading 100 books this year.