Slaughter returns from a stand-alone (Triptych, 2006) to the adventures of Medical Examiner Sara Linton and Det. Lena Adams, in a case that feels more like a chapter in an ongoing family saga than a discrete novel.
Little does Dr. Sara Linton, remarried to her ex, Grant County (Georgia) Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver, know that the day she’s deposed concerning her responsibility for the death of cancer-stricken Jimmy Powell, 12, will be the most relaxing day of her week. Bad-girl Lena has been arrested for murder after the Elawah County police found her on the scene of an exploding Cadillac with a dead woman inside. Once Sara and Jeffrey arrive, Lena escapes, leaving Sara holding the bag. The violence, evidently set off by the Brotherhood of the True White Skin, swiftly envelops the uncle who raised Lena, long-time methamphetamine addict Hank Norton; her mother Angela Adams, who didn’t die in childbirth after all; and the friends of her murdered twin Sibyl. In fact, it’s hard to find a pair of clean hands in Lena’s family, or, indeed, in Elawah County, and after a while you may give up trying to assign guilt and just wait in exhaustion for the whole mess, powered by Slaughter’s nonstop intensity, to just burn itself out.
As if Lena and Sara hadn’t been through enough, the fadeout suggests that they’re not going to get much respite in between books either.