Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Release Date: 2002
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 pediatrician and medical examiner–finds herself entangled in a terrible tragedy.
What seemed at first to be a horrific 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. Then a young girl is abducted, and it becomes clear that the first death is linked to an even more brutal crime, one far more shocking than anyone could have imagined. Meanwhile, detective Lena Adams, still recovering from her sister’s death and her own brutal attack, finds herself drawn to a young man who might hold the answers. But unless Lena, Sara, and Jeffrey can uncover the deadly secrets the children hide, it’s going to happen again . .
Kisscut is the second book in the Grant County series and it may be Slaughter’s most character centric novel I’ve read to date. Slaughter spends a significant amount of time digging into Lena’s character, more specifically her current mindset after the trauma of the previous novel, Blindsighted.
Kisscut also happens to be one of Slaughter’s most disturbing novels. Slaughter’s work is always dark, but Kisscut’s plot deals directly with child abuse and exploitation. So, trigger warnings for child abuse and exploitation and suicide.
As mentioned previously, Kisscut is very character centric. I was never the biggest fan of Lena. She’s brash and not an easily likeable character, but when you juxtapose her with Sara, it’s easy for readers to side with Sara over Lena.
For most of the novel, Lena is working through her trauma in the only way she knows how: throwing herself into work and avoiding anything that can be considered self-care. It’s like watching a particularly slow car wreck. There’s also a sequence of events that Lena goes through that is absolutely heart shattering and difficult to read (trigger warning). My heart almost stopped reading this sequence of events as I happened to be reading aloud to my husband at the time.
The ending of Kisscut plays out like a television show. It’s hard to explain without giving away too many spoilers, but it’s an accurate depiction of a less than successful conclusion of a case.
I couldn’t give the book five stars because of the subject matter. Not that Slaughter doesn’t treat the subject matter with the utmost respect, but it’s hard to give five stars to a truly horrendous story.
Overall, Kisscut is definitely not for everyone. It features a truly horrific case and digs deep into the psyche of someone suffering from inconceivable trauma. I will certainly be continuing with the series since Slaughter is second to none in the genre.