Book Review

Beyond Reach

Beyond Reach

  • Author: Karin Slaughter
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  • Publication Date: July 31, 2007
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press
  • Series: Grant County #6

CONTENT WARNING: murder, mention of rape, mention of torture, addiction, racism, Neo-Nazi ideology and imagery, gore, mention of suicide, infidelity, homophobia, violence, mention of domestic violence, blood

Rating: 5 out of 5.

In a stifling jail cell in a hardscrabble Georgia town, Detective Lena Adams sits in stubborn silence: bruised, angry, and the only suspect in a horrific murder that left a woman incinerated beyond recognition. A hundred miles away, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver has gotten the call that his young detective has been arrested. Jeffrey’s wife, pediatrician and medical examiner Sara Linton, has little patience for Lena or her dramas. Fighting a heartbreaking malpractice suit, struggling to pick up the pieces of a shattered career, the last thing Sara needs is to see Jeffrey playing Lena’s knight in shining armor. Sara cannot guess that within days she herself will be at the center of a bizarre and murderous case.

For Lena has fled back to the place where she grew up hard, careening back through the shadows of her past and into a shocking underground world of bigotry and rage. The man who raised her is slowly killing himself with drugs. The man who beguiled—and beat—her is reaching out from prison. And now only Jeffrey and Sara can free Lena from the web of lies, betrayal, and brutality that has trapped her—as this powerhouse of a novel races toward its shattering climax…and a final, unforgettable twist.

I started reading this after finishing all the current books in the Will Trent series, which comes after the conclusion of the Grant County series, but involves some of the same characters, so I kind of knew what happens to the main characters. But, it didn’t stop me from sitting and reading with my heart in my mouth as I followed the journey of each of these complex characters that I’ve gotten to know over the course of the five previous books. 

It’s told in two different timelines — the present day, where Jeffrey and Sara race to find out what has been going on in Reese, the town where Lena had grown up and is now the sole suspect in a horrific crime, and just before the crime, where Lena is actively getting herself in trouble. The timelines eventually converge in a shattering conclusion.

I’m not gonna lie, it was rough seeing Sara’s character struggle as much as she did in this book. In all the other books, she’s such a strong, tough character, but as we all know, even strong, tough women have hard times. Sara is no different, she’s taking it incredibly hard to have her medical abilities questioned after the death of a patient. What’s a girl to do? Obviously, the answer is to get embroiled in a dangerous investigation with her husband as soon as possible. Preferably to save someone she doesn’t really like or respect. AKA Lena Adams.

Jeffrey is basically a good guy. We get to really see more of this in this book. Has he made some seriously questionable decisions in his life? Yeah, for sure. Who of us haven’t? But he sees something in Lena that maybe no one else does, not even Lena herself. So when she’s accused, the inconsistencies add up, and he’s absolutely sure that something is rotten in Reese, and Lena isn’t guilty of this crime and she’s being railroaded. Since the sheriff apparently “can’t find his ass in an ass-storm,” (yeah, that’s a direct quote), Jeffrey feels obligated to start investigating. 

Lena is someone I struggled with a lot. She seems to be one of those people that just brings trouble down wherever she goes. But at the same time, she isn’t necessarily a bad person. We finally get to understand more about what makes her tick, and how she grew up. In addition, all those questions she had about how she grew up are answered at long last, and it gives even more insight into her character. Leading to my mixed feelings intensifying. She isn’t exactly a likable character, but I couldn’t exactly hate her either. 

For so much of the book, there’s a lot of loose threads that don’t seem to connect. There’s so many fishy things going on, but as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t figure out how they all fit together. I wasn’t able to see the bigger picture until it was all right there in front of me, and then I was blown away at how beautifully it was shaped throughout the book. The twists and turns and amazing plotting, as well as the incredible character development was out of this world. It made me feel as I was right along with the characters, trapped in this terrifying small town full of seedy characters, with danger around every corner, not knowing who I could trust. Once again, Karin Slaughter has proved herself as a master of the genre, just like she does with every single one of her books that I’ve read.

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: 17

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