Fans of Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs have probably already discovered relatively new talent Karin Slaughter. If they havenít, they might find themselves hooked by the third book in her series about Grant County, Georgia, A Faint Cold Fear, and find themselves looking forward to reading the previous novels from this expert writer of taut, blood-smeared mysteries.
Slaughterís cast of characters is a damaged one. Thereís Sara Linton, the local medical examiner who is still trying to put her life back together after her husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, cheated on her five years ago, resulting in their divorce. Although they are dating again, Sara and Jeffrey still have a lot to rectify before they can be together. Their situation becomes much more complicated when a local student is found, an apparent suicide, and Saraís sister Tess is stabbed while Sara investigates the scene of the crime. As Sara and Jeffrey are in turmoil over Tessís condition, another student is found dead. Although she also appears to have killed herself, further investigation unveils that hers was a staged murder, casting doubt on the first suicide as well.
Add into the mix a chauvinistic campus security guard, an ex-cop whose life has been falling apart since her recent violent rape and kidnapping, a white supremacist who is trying to clean up his act and many, many more struggling characters, and youíve got a volatile cast that fits in perfectly with Slaughterís dark, humorless style of writing. Like Cornwell, Slaughter feels no need to inject levity into her novel, and each chapter is more bleak and twisted than the last, especially the chapters involving the ex-cop and her miserable life.
Slaughterís mystery is a good one, and itís likely that youíll be guessing until the last chapter (or even the last page) about the outcome. The characters are also well-drawn, but will probably be more complete for those who have started the series at the beginning. Although itís difficult to like most of the characters for their many faults, most will at least be able to identify with Sara and her family, giving them at least one sympathetic heroine to relate to.
Readers who enjoy thrillers with a very graphic and detailed medical slant will probably find another favorite in Karin Slaughterís Grant County novels. Though A Faint Cold Fear stands well on its own, readers will probably be most satisfied if they begin with Blindsighted and Kisscut before attempting it.