** Spoiler alert **
In PRETTY GIRLS, Karen Slaughter gave us a father-son team of sadistic serial killer/videographers who produced snuff porn for an international audience of sickos. The vicious killer in BLINDSIGHTED isn’t quite that bad. He juices up his victims on Belladonna before crucifying and then raping them. The effect of the drug is to make the experience relatively painless and (unfortunately) almost enjoyable. The women feel that that the killer has been making love to them and afterwards if they survive, there is this terrible feeling that they liked the experience, shared in it, and even want more.
Set in a small, Georgia, university town in Grant County, the first victim is a blind professor who is raped and nearly murdered in the restroom of a small local eatery. “Nearly murdered” is important here, because it eventually becomes clear that the victims are being kept barely alive so that the pretty local pediatrician/coroner can save them at the last minute… if things work out. They usually don’t.
Sara Litton is the doc and ex-wife of local police chief, Jeffrey Tolliver. She almost saves the killer’s first victim when she finds her in that bathroom. A few days later Sara finds a second woman draped across the hood of her (Sara’s) own car. In A clear reference to the crucifixion of Jesus, nails have clearly been driven through the woman’s hands and feet. Sara does save this young woman who is a coed at the local university.
The ritualistic rape continues, and we find out more and more surprising information, about Dr. Sara, about her ex-husband, Jeff, about the other police officers, about many of the citizens of Grant county, about previous rape and murder cases and their perpetrators, and how, amazingly, they all tie together.
You need a strong constitution to hang with Karan and her characters. The complex, masterful crimes she depicts are chilling and frankly disgusting. But you become involved because the characters are so richly portrayed. In Blindsighted, I was struck by Slaughter’s sensitive portrayal of Sara and Jeff, their crumbled marriage, and their difficulty in expressing their feelings for each other. The final scene in the book is actually funny and almost reminiscent of a really good TV situation comedy.