“Sara’s hand shook as she pressed her fingers against Sibyl’s carotid artery. A fluttering rose against her fingertips, but Sara wasn’t sure if it was the tremor in her own hands or life that she was feeling. Sara closed her eyes, concentrating, trying to separate the two sensations.”
The 2001 book by Karin Slaughter and the first in her Grant County series, Blindsighted is set in a small Georgia town which erupts in panic when a young college professor is found brutally mutilated in the local diner. But it’s only when town paediatrician 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 as a trail of terror 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.
I’ve read a few of Karin Slaughter’s books before, two from her Grant County/Will Trent series and a few of her standalone books, and she instantly became one of my favourite authors. So, I decided to start at the beginning with the first book in her Grant County series, Blindsighted.
Having already gotten to know Sara, Jeffrey and Lena a little, it was great to read about how these characters came into being. And because of Slaughter’s excellent narrative, I already felt familiar with the town and the people who live there. Her characters are so well-crafted and her settings are so well described that I instantly felt at home with them, with her books having such a good continuity that the years between each story is made to feel seamless. Still, it was great to see where her series began, and it’s been a fantastic journey to see how certain relationships started off and how certain conflicts were set in motion.
Slaughter is so clever at pacing and plotting her stories that you feel like you’re investigating the case for yourself, trying to figure out who’s behind it all as things slowly progress. But you’ll never guess. Blindsighted is such a multilayered thriller that, while you are given so much detail and context around the characters and the case itself, Slaughter only gives away the minimal when it comes to answers, slowly revealing drops of information piece by piece as everything finally starts to come together.
The crime at the centre of the story is another brutal and gruesome set of murders which keep you nail-bitingly gripped. The observations of the investigation are interesting and insightful (with Slaughter having a background in Forensics), whilst the gruesome and occasionally extreme violence constantly takes you back. It’s certainly a dark and gritty thriller, and the intensity and suspense never lets up, as every chapter leaves you wanting to read more.
Not only is there an intriguing mystery to follow at the centre of the story, but what I enjoy most about Slaughter’s work is that her books are so character-driven at the same time. There’s a lot of emotion involved between Jeffrey and Sara and their relationship is explored incredibly well, adding a real personal touch to the story as we are made to feel the pressures of living in a small town. We also learn a lot about Sara’s past in this instalment, allowing the reader to engage with her early on as we begin to understand her mindset. This is obviously a huge turning point for Lena’s character, too, and I’m eager to see how she changes going into book two as her life takes a huge turning point in this one.
Not only was this the first book in Slaughter’s Grant County series, but it was also her debut novel, and for that she deserves all the credit she gets. Her writing is always flawless and this first book is just as impressive as her later work. I can’t wait to continue the series.
If you want a new thriller/detective mystery to get into, or you’re feeling bored by the genre and want something new, then Slaughter’s books are a must-read. They don’t necessarily have to be read in order as they all work as standalone books, but you do get to understand the various relationships better if you start at the beginning. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure this author is on your bookshelf.