Onyx reviews: Blindsighted
by Karin Slaughter
Dr. Sara Linton does double duty as pediatrician and medical examiner in the
small Georgia town of Heartsdale. She is late for lunch with her sister when she
makes a gruesome discovery in the local diner. A blind chemistry professor from
the college has been raped and viciously attacked in the bathroom. The victim,
Sibyl Adams, is the twin sister of the county's only female police detective,
Lena Adams. Sibyl also happens to be gay, living discretely with the local
librarian. Sara arrives on the scene just in time for the woman to die in her
The murder has ritualistic elements—abdominal wounds form a deliberate cross -
and the autopsy reveals other grizzly details, including the fact that Sibyl had
been given poisonous belladonna shortly before her murder.
The college has been key to Heartsdale's prosperity in recent years while nearby
towns have collapsed into poverty. Keeping the college happy is one of Chief
Jeffrey Tolliver's primary charges.
Tolliver and Sara Linton's marriage dissolved two years earlier because of his
infidelity. Still, it is impossible for the two to divorce completely because of
their professional relationship. As coroner, Sara must work closely with
Tolliver and the police. Her family occasionally wonders aloud why she doesn't
resign to avoid this enforced contact. Her mother and sister seem to have a
better handle on the unresolved relationship than Sara does, and they often
pressure her to reconsider her decision to separate from Tolliver.
Detective Lena Adams is a loose canon. An uncle—who was both a drug addict and
an alcoholic—raised Lena and Sibyl and was responsible for Sibyl's blindness.
Her sister's death has unhinged Lena. Tolliver is unable to reassign her to
another case, and his efforts to keep her in the periphery of this investigation
are fruitless. Her carelessness with one of the killer's victims contributes to
her downward spiral.
Ritualistic killings are often the sign of a serial killer, so Sara and Tolliver
are justifiably concerned when a young college student who bears a strong
resemblance to Sibyl Adams is reported missing. The investigators are forced to
accept that it may be someone living in their midst who is responsible for
Sibyl's murder, and for the attacks that follow. It might even be someone from
the police force, where most of the older guard also belongs to the fraternal
lodge, which has its own code of silence and retribution.
Blindsighted is the first of three thrillers from new—and aptly
named—author Karin Slaughter. If the story has a shortcoming, it is a dearth
of viable suspects. While the killer is clearly not an outsider, Slaughter does
not produce a large enough pool of likely candidates among the town's residents.
That's not to say that when the killer is revealed it doesn't come as something
of a surprise, but ultimately, he's almost it by default. Still, the author
capably handles the intricacies of small town issues, including the reaction to
the murder of a lesbian and simmering racial distrust
Like most good fiction, Blindsighted is character driven. The plot,
while compelling and deftly handled, is a vehicle to explore the characters of
Sara, Jeffrey and Lena. Jeffrey Tolliver is still desperately in love with his
ex-wife, begging her to forgive him for his one-time indiscretion. Sara
vacillates between wanting to be with Jeffrey—even if only for temporary
comfort—and resenting him for his behavior.
Over the course of the investigation, Jeffrey discovers things about Sara he
never knew during their six-year marriage, things that help explain why things
went as they did. It will be interesting to see in the upcoming sequels how
their tension is resolved.
Web site and all contents © Copyright Bev Vincent 2007. All rights reserved.