I'm gradually becoming a solid fan of Karin Slaughter's mystery novels. In this one the lead characters are Sara Linton, medical examiner, and Jeffrey Tolliver, Chief of Police, of a small college town in Georgia. The college plays a large role in the story; it's supposedly a school for dorky types who don't fit in at the better known large universities in Georgia. Judging from the scene at one dorm party, though, these kids don't seem very nerdy at all.
As this gripping story begins, the body of a young man has been found in the dry river bed under a bridge by the college. He has fallen or jumped from the bridge and his legs are shattered. Is it suicide? He has tried to slit his arm before. While Sara, Jeffrey, and others try to figure out what happened, Sara's very pregnant sister leaves Sara's car to go up a hill into the woods to relieve herself. They find her stabbed and bleeding profusely a few minutes later. In other words, the book grabs the reader by the neck and doesn't let go until the end.
There is one masterfully drawn character in this book you won't soon forget. Lena is a former cop who now works for the college security department. She hates the job, mostly because of her bigoted, smarmy boss. She was an excellent cop but was the victim of one of the most terrifying violent kidnappings you'll ever read about. Her head still isn't back to normal, and neither is her body for that matter. I was impressed by the depiction of this woman and her struggle to keep it together.
The other characters are well drawn too and although the plot kept me turning pages, it was the characters I really loved. Slaughter has been compared to Patricia Cornwall and Kathy Reichs and I can see the truth of that comparison, but I am more impressed with Slaughter's characters than Cornwall's. I highly recommend this book.