- Author: Karin Slaughter
- Genre: Mystery/Thriller
- Publication Date: February 10, 2015
- Publisher: Harper Audio
- Series: Grant County #2
CONTENT WARNING: gun violence, blood, murder, death of a child, self-harm, rape, homophobia, suicide, mutilation, pedophilia, incest, trauma
Saturday night dates at the skating rink have been a tradition in the small southern town of Heartsdale for as long as anyone can remember, but when a teenage quarrel explodes into a deadly shoot-out, Sara Linton—the town’s pediatrician and medical examiner—finds herself entangled in a terrible tragedy.
What seemed at first to be a horrific but individual catastrophe proves to have wider implications. The autopsy reveals evidence of long-term abuse, of ritualistic self -mutilation, but when Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver start to investigate, they are frustrated at every turn.
The children surrounding the victim close ranks. The families turn their backs. Then a young girl is abducted, and it becomes clear that the first death is linked to an even more brutal crime, one far more shocking than anyone could have imagined. Meanwhile, detective Lena Adams, still recovering from her sister’s death and her own brutal attack, finds herself drawn to a young man who might hold the answers. But unless Lena, Sara, and Jeffrey can uncover the deadly secrets the children hide, it’s going to happen again . . .
So, I’ve read a fair number of Karin Slaughter books at this point, and they’re all basically full of gritty and dark content, but this was was definitely the most disturbing book out of all of them. It’s definitely not the kind of book that everyone could get through, but the way the story is written is absolutely incredible.
Obviously, there’s already an attachment to the main characters. Sara, Jeffrey, and Lean are all major players in the series thus far, and I’ve developed a soft spot for each of them, no matter how I felt about them in previous books or other series. We get to see a lot more about each of them in this book, and I think the strongest part of this book was watching Lena’s character arc. Lena develops a lot more depth to her character, and while her road is a tough one, I actually found that seeing her show a more vulnerable side made me like her more and find her to be a lot more relatable.
The relationship between Sara and Jeffrey continues to change, and I can’t even imagine how difficult it must be to manage a relationship while working on a case as deeply disturbing as this one. Their relationship isn’t a cut and dried one — they divorced but there have clearly been unresolved feelings, plus the forced proximity of their jobs, which leads them to giving in and dating again. I feel like it captures the messy nature of long relationships realistically, rather than showing it as something that just ends and you’re finished with it completely.
There was a lot going on in the story. But it was told in a way that kept my attention laser-focused, rather than just keeping the audiobook on as background noise. I struggled to stop listening at night (or should I say early in the morning), because I knew I needed to try and get some rest. The pace was consistently fast, and while I definitely had some ideas fixed in my mind, I was always on the edge of my seat, waiting to find out what was going to happen next. And there was only one twist that I figured out in advance. The rest were written so masterfully that I couldn’t see them coming until they smacked me in the face.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 8
Categories: Book Review