US Publication title: BEYOND REACH
Random House, July 2007
Reviewed by Kerrie Smith, September 2007
When Detective Lena Adams is arrested in Reece, her home town in Georgia,
her boss, police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver, goes to help her, taking his wife
medical examiner Sara Linton with him. Sara has problems of her own: she
is being sued for medical misdiagnosis after the death of a young patient.
The parents, overwhelmed by debt, are looking for someone to pay. Lena has
returned to Reece after learning that her uncle, a reformed alcoholic, is
using drugs again.
Lena has been discovered by the local police sitting on the ground on the
perimeter of a high school sports field, with her foot on a fuel can. On
the fifty yard touch line is a burning Cadillac and investigators can see
a body charring on the back seat. When Lena won't answer questions or
indeed speak at all, she is taken to the hospital, and then charged with
obstructing the law. Soon after Jeffrey and Sara arrive, Lena absconds,
setting off a chain of events that places them all in great danger.
This is a novel about racism, police corruption, drug addiction and
alcoholism. Dealing in speed and other drugs is rife, skinheads rule, and
the previous police chief in Reece resigned after his house was
fire-bombed. But this is a story about people, how they behave, and what
they learn about each other and themselves in extreme circumstances. Karin
Slaughter is hard on her characters. Really nasty things happen to them.
One aspect of this novel that may catch the reader unawares is that many
events are recounted out of sequence. I found it difficult to get the
chronology straight in my mind, and that resulted in a little confusion
and some surprises.
SKIN PRIVILEGE is the sixth title in Karin Slaughter's Grant County series
and I felt, at times, that I should have read all of the other five, even
though there is a considerable amount of "back-story" recounted. Facts
half remembered from dipping into earlier titles annoyed me, and I did
wonder whether this would worry the reader if this title was the first
they had read. Perhaps they won't realise what they've missed, but SKIN
PRIVILEGE may send them looking for more.
SKIN PRIVILEGE ends with a punch that I didn't see coming, something that
fans won't want to miss.
Sep 2007 review originally published on Murder and Mayhem
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