Beyond Reach by Karin Slaughter, July 31, 2007 release. Available formats include hardcover, audio CD and cassette and ebook. Beyond Reach is the 6th book in the popular Grant County series featuring Dr. Sara Linton, pediatrician and part-time coroner set in a fictional town outside Atlanta, Georgia.
The story opens with a taunt tension and a violent death. The reader is offered a glimpse into a serious situation that is about to go down and only has one ominous ending and that Lena is involved. Flash forward to the present, Jeffrey and Sara learn that Lena has been arrested in a small town outside Grant County and is held as a person of interest. There was a dead body found at the scene and Lena may or may not have been involved. So Sara and Jeffrey travel from Grant County to Reese, Georgia in hopes of helping Lena untangle herself from whatever problems she is facing within this small rural town.
Before Lena’s trouble’s interfered, Sara Linton had been facing a nasty malpractice suit. She is being sued by a parent for delaying therapy for their terminally ill child. Sara’s worried that her insurance carrier will cave and pay the family thereby painting her as a negligent doctor. The lawsuit has far reaching effects in the community. Most of the residents of Heartsdale shun or avoid Sara and therefore Sara has closed her clinic pending the outcome of the lawsuit. However, Lena’s troubles are now front and center and this provides Sara with a temporary distraction from her own problems.
The author does an excellent job going back and forth between the present and past to bring the two threads together for the climax of the story. Alas, I was completely unprepared for the unexpected plot twist for this story, too. As usual, Beyond Reach was a suspenseful story, well plotted with the highlight for me being the continued development of Jeffery and Sara’s relationship. Of course Sara doesn’t care for Jeffery galloping to Lena’s rescue but they both stay in Reese and figure out what’s going on. In Lena’s usual fashion she distances herself from the very people who want to help her by using them to help her escape and elude the authorities. This causes friction initially between Jeffrey and the local sheriff.
We learn that Lena was on vacation, checking on her uncle, Hank Norton, a former drug addict who raised Lena and her twin sister, Sybil. Lena learns that he recently fell off the wagon and started using again. Lena decides to check around and talk to the local folks to find out what triggered his relapse. Meanwhile, Jeffrey learns that some skinheads have inundated the small rural town with methamphetamine. The local sheriff seems elusive and laid back despite the recent increase in crime. There are quite a few red herrings the author throws around. However, Jeffrey does get to the bottom of the problems that Lena is faced with that leads to a very unexpected plot twist to the story.
As a reader who was emotionally as well as financially invested in this series I must state that I am disappointed that Ms. Slaughter has decided to go in a direction I find somewhat vexing. Just to recap and this information may be spoilers for those who’ve never read this series: throughout this series we’ve had to deal with Sara’s pain from her brutal rape that has resulted in her inability to have children. We watched rekindle her relationship with her philandering ex-husband, Jeffrey Tolliver, who cheated on her but ultimately regains her trust.
We’ve had to endure Lena’s self-destructive personality and her lengthy recovery from being a victim of a rape and dealing with the murder of her twin sister. I’ve had to suspend disbelief for and stomach a lot of the violence in such a small town with a high body count. Grant County has had its share of violent crimes that consisted of rape, incest and murder from perps who sometimes remain elusive from the law. I could accept the endings of most of her books that ended with justice never fulfilled because it is a realistic outcome.
So much darkness and sadness with only very little happiness as it seems to me that as readers we’re left dealing with one tragedy after another. Was there any light in this series? I’d like to think so with Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship because that was the one thing that anchored me to this series that has been consistently dark and brutally violent. How much more trial and tribulation must the characters and the readers endure? Alas, as suspenseful and well written as this novel was for me, I’m undecided if I would want to continue forth. The path that Ms. Slaughter has decided to go seems to be more of the same. Alas, I hope she meets the challenges she’s set forth for her and this series and wish her continued success.
In the end, Beyond Reach was a captivating read for me despite the ending. I’ve had several days of reviewing my feelings about this book to accept the conclusion but I strongly disagree with it. Overall, I will give this book the B+ it deserves for the captivating, page turning, taunt suspense novel that it is for me and an F for the emotional manipulation you have forced your loyal readership to endure. I hope that it was worth it.
[tags]Karin Slaughter, Mystery, Grant County Series, Beyond Reach[/tags]