Saturday night dates at the skating rink have been a tradition in the small southern town of Heartsdale for as long as anyone can remember. But when a teenage quarrel explodes into a deadly shoot-out, Sara Linton - the town's paediatrician and medical examiner - finds herself entangled in a terrible tragedy. What seemed at first to be a terrible but individual catastrophe proves to have wider implications. The autopsy reveals evidence of long-term abuse, of ritualistic self-mutilation, but when Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver start to investigate, they are frustrated at every turn. The children surrounding the victim close ranks. The families turn their backs. But when a young girl is abducted, it becomes clear that the first death is linked to an even more brutal crime, one far more shocking than anyone could have imagined. And unless Sara and Jeffrey can uncover the deadly secrets the children hide, it's going to happen again -
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Kisscut is a reminder that Karin Slaughter has--with just one previous novel--built a reputation as one of the most powerful and astringent thriller writers at work today. In fact, Slaughter's work represents a development of the Southern Gothic strain, and like so many of her illustrious predecessors, she is adept at exploring the darker reaches of the human psyche. As her last book, Blindsighted, sold over 25,000 copies, it would seem that many of us have become Slaughter aficionados.
Kisscut begins with a particularly explosive opening. In the car park of a skating rink in the small southern town of Heartsdale, chief of police Jeffrey Tolliver witnesses a teenage girl pointing a gun at a man. But the detective, there for a date with his ex-wife Sara (the town's medical examiner and paediatrician), is obliged to shoot the girl to save the boy's life. The subsequent autopsy brings to light a gallery of horrors, and as Tolliver and Sara undertake a particularly difficult investigation, they are met with a wall of silence.
Slaughter is now routinely compared to Thomas Harris, and the comparisons are not far-fetched. We're used to unflinching forensic detail these days (courtesy of such writers as Kathy Reichs and Patricia Cornwell), but Slaughter is adept at unsettling the reader in a whole host of ways, not least through her recurrent suggestion that the patina of normality sustaining her characters is very thin indeed. Jeffrey and Sara's faltering relationship is richly drawn, though we find reduced attention given to their private problems as the novel progresses and the focus shifts more to the author's polished and consummate handling of the tortuous plot. --Barry ForshawReview:
"A great read ... crime fiction at its finest" (Michael Connelly)
"A complex and confident thriller in which character goes deep" (Daily Mirror)
"With Blindsighted, Karin Slaughter left a great many thriller writers looking anxiously over their shoulders. With Kisscut, she leaves most of them behind" (John Connolly)
"Slaughter's plotting is relentless, piling on surprises and twists ... [Kisscut] should come with a psychological health warning" (Guardian)
"Fast-paced and unsettling ... A compelling and fluid read" (Daily Telegraph)
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