Karin Slaughter’s Grant County Series

Karin_SlaughterAbout the author:

Born: Atlanta, Georgia January 6, 1971

Website: http://www.karinslaughter.com/

Thriller Subgenre: Forensic/Crime Thriller

Publisher: Harper-Collins/William-Morrow & Dell Publishing

Future of the series: This series ended with Beyond Reach but Slaughter’s Will Trent series takes off where the Grant County series ends.

The Simon Review

Karin Slaughter’s Grant County Series is a raw and gritty thriller series filled with fascinatingly rich but flawed characters. I would categorize the series in the forensic thriller genre since the main protagonist is Dr. Sara Linton who is the local pediatrician as well as the county coroner and therefore a hint of medical forensics. Slaughter is light on the technical aspects which may be a relief for those who are not so techno-savvy but yet gives enough to keep us science geeks happy.

The strength in this series is truly the characters. There are primarily three main characters; Dr. Sara Linton, Jeffrey Tolliver; who is Sara’s ex-husband and Grant County chief of police, and Lena Adams; a female cop and probably the most complicated character in the series. Much of the series revolves around the relationship between Sara and Jeffrey which begins with them being divorced which, at first, seems to be as a result of Jeffery’s infidelity. But what is so often true about cases of infidelity and divorce, there is a lot more going on below the surface and throughout the series, Slaughter taps away the veneer to expose what truly makes Jeffrey and Sara tick and why these two, who truly love each other, can’t quite come together.

Lena Adams is a tough and difficult female cop who is the identical twin of Sibyl Adams, who was brutally murdered in the beginning of the series. Even though they are identical, Lena and her sister are very different. Sibyl is a chemistry professor, with a stable lesbian relationship, and is blind as a result of a childhood accident whereas Lena is a tough minded cop, heterosexual with no stable relationship, and very unforgiving of her uncle Hank Norton, who she believes is the cause of Sibyl’s blindness. Lena begins the series already damaged but with the death of her sister and a brutal assault, she begins to spiral out of control throughout the series. The only thing that prevents her from total self-destruction is Tolliver’s faith in her as a cop.

Slaughter gives a beautiful narrative of life in the Deep South along with brilliantly developed characters. The stories are gripping and true to the thriller genre. After the last novel in the series, Beyond Reach, Slaughter’s Will Trent series takes off where this series ends.

It would be best to read the series in order. Indelible has flashbacks to the early days of Jeffrey and Sara’s relationship and could be read first.

Simon’s pick:

Most Favorite Novel in the Series- Indelible-because, this novel goes into the early lives of Jeffrey and Sara which gives more depth into what are already complex characters.

Least Favorite Novel in the Series-Beyond Reach, because of a very unfulfilling ending.

What about the science? Slaughter is not a scientist turned novelist, so there is not much in the way of techno lingo. Slaughter, however, does her homework well and does at least portray the science correctly.

The Sara Linton Technical Word in Review: Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP)-When carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches are broken down in the body to carbon dioxide and water, the energy that is released is packed into a molecule called adenosine triphosphate or ATP .


Sara told him, “Rigor mortis can be brought on more quickly by strenuous exercise before death. A depletion of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, would cause the muscles to stiffen more quicklyIndelible

In relation to Sara Linton’s comment: ATP has several roles in the process of muscle contraction. After death, muscle cells become leaky which allows for calcium ions to flow into the cells which result in the initiation in the contraction of the muscles. To keep calcium ions out of the cell, energy is required which means ATP. So when ATP levels begin to decrease, there is nothing to stop the calcium ions from flowing into the cells.

Additionally, muscles are made up of a number of proteins but two proteins, actin and myosin are the two primary proteins that are involved in contraction. Actin is a fibrous molecule much like a rope, whereas myosin is like a hand that grips onto the actin rope and moves along its surface to initiate a contraction. Every time that myosin grabs the actin fiber an ATP molecule is required. Myosin will continue to hold onto the actin molecule until another ATP comes along to release it. So if there is no ATP available then the muscle will stay in a contracted position which is what we see in rigor mortis. So in summary, the faster ATP reserves are used up, the faster rigor mortis will set in.

Books in the Series by Order:

Vote for your favorite Forensic Thriller on the Forensic Fiction List on Goodreads Listopia.

Goodreads Forensic Fiction Best List

Most Favorite in the series: Indelible with a score of 4.19

Least Favorite in the series: Blindsighted with a score of 4.10

Based on overall ratings from Goodreads, Library Thing and Amazon (US & UK)

Blindsighted#1-Blindsighted- 2001

A Sample Clip of the Audiobook

First Line:

Sara Linton leaned back in her chair, mumbling a soft “Yes, Mama” into the telephone.


Sara Linton: A pediatrician and the county coroner, Sara is haunted by the effects of an assault when she was a young intern and studying emergency medicine.

Jeffrey Tolliver: The Grant County Police Chief and ex-husband to Sara

Lena Adams: The only female cop on the force, a difficult personality, she is the identical twin to Sibyl Adams

Sibyl Adams: A blind college professor and sister to Lena, she is brutally murdered in the beginning of the series.

Hank Norton: Lena and Sibyl’s uncle who raised them after their parent’s death. A drug abuser when the children were young but later gave up drugs. Lena has never forgiven him for his drug use past.

Nan Thomas: Sibyl’s lesbian lover

The Setting

Heartsdale, Georgia

The sleepy town of Heartsdale, Georgia, is jolted into panic when Sara Linton, the town’s pediatrician and coroner, finds Sibyl Adams, a young college professor, dead in the local diner. As well as being viciously raped, Sibyl has been cut: two deep knife wounds form a lethal cross over her stomach. But it’s only once Sara starts to perform the postmortem that the full extent of the killer’s brutality starts to become clear.

Police chief Jeffrey Tolliver — Sara’s ex-husband — is in charge of the investigation, and when a second victim is found, crucified, only a few days later, he has to face the fact that Sibyl’s murder wasn’t a single personal attack: They’re dealing with a sadistic rapist turned killer who is terrorizing rural Grant County.

Jeffrey isn’t alone in his search. Lena Adams — the county’s sole female detective — wants to see justice done since her sister was the first victim. Sara, too, cannot escape the terror. A secret from her past could hold the key to finding the killer — unless he finds her first.

From The Best Bad Reviews:

Leah Tchack from Amazon review of Karin Slaughter’s The Blindsighted.

This book is so bad I can hardly believe it. Nothing in it is credible, and the gore and sex are overdone. All the characters are mad at one another and yelling all the time. And the “brilliant” physician/heroine keeps Kool-Aid in her refrigerator. I kid you not.

Wikimedia Common

This is from Leiah “So, I read this book today… on Amazon about Karin Slaughter’s novel Blindsighted and all I can say is WOW, she must have had a few cups of coffee before she wrote this review.

If you are upset by violence against women, this is definitely a book that will turn your stomach. What happens to the victims in the book is horrific on a terrible scale. However, it is not unrealistic – this stuff happens, but it is very rough having it spelled out so graphically. And Slaughter’s attempt to make the rapes somehow the victims faults because they are drugged up and made to feel like they are ‘enjoying’ being ripped apart by a vicious rapist is sickening.

Sonytoao, in his/her review, really hit on all the points that I had intended to make with my review. I really wish I could scrub out my brain with iodine solution to remove the slimy feeling this book left me with. The “investigation” was a farce. The Southern good-old-boy “blame the n**ger” mentality, the disgusting pushing of the idea that the victims enjoyed their rapes, because the rapist was “making love to them” (never mind lots and lots of blood and tearing and ripping of various body parts). The “cops” were stupid beyond all description.

The main character, a doctor, is cheated on by her spineless whiner of a spouse (a policeman) who explains himself by saying that he didn’t feel like he was ‘needed enough’ by Sara, his wife – so, of course, he pulls another woman into their bed at a time that he knew good and well that she would come home and catch them. Oh, because he “wanted to hurt her.” Because, you know, then she would fight to “get him back” right? Riiight…… she kicks his cheating backside out instead. Then, of course, the whole book we have to listen to her moaning in her head about how she wants him back, and he comes sniffing around her like a junkyard dog trying to get her back. . . and, of course, like an idiot, she does. This is a woman who apparently is an exceptional physician, supposedly intelligent, who can’t see that she is too good for a guy who is so needy and insecure that instead of sitting down and talking about things, he screws around to “hurt her and get her back”? I gotta tell you, I rolled my eyes so hard I think I pulled a muscle. Oh, and the only female officer in the department? I wanted to slap her all through the book. i know, she had a had time of it, no spoiler here, but come on – I don’t know if she was supposed to be a cliche or just an irritant. And to top it off, all the guilt of the killings was laid at our good doctor’s feet, because of something that happened 12 years ago, that was never her fault in the first place. Nice.

Only good thing that came from it is a fairly good view of how easily rapists get off and are set free to go rape other women and destroy their lives. Ah, the good old justice system . . .

Overall, I can’t see where all the good reviews came from, unless they were friends of the author. I had to laugh at one of the reviews that said “There are no cardboard characters or serial killer cliches in this book.” Huh? Did we read the same book? The cheating spouse, the smart but romantically stupid female lead, the grating secondary female lead, the inbred Southern hillbilly police, the totally inept investigations . . . nope. All sounds pretty cardboard cliche to me!

All in all, it’s one of those books I wish I hadn’t of gotten into. Now I have to go wash out my mind with Betadine. The building premise for the serial killer had potential, but overall the whole thing reeked.

Looking for a review of Blindsighted?  Check out:

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Clues & Reviews

Amazon Rating-US: 4.14 out of 5 stars based on 694 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.31 out of 5 stars based on 360 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.10 out of 5 stars based on 55,281 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.79 out of 5 stars based on 677 ratings

Total Score 4.10 (updated 12/5/18)


kisscut2#2-Kisscut- 2002

A Sample Clip of the Audiobook

First Line:

“Dancing Queen,” Sara Linton mumbled with the music as she made her way around the skating rink.


Sara Linton, Jeffrey Tolliver, Lena Adams, Nan Thomas, and Hank Norton

The Setting

Grant County, Georgia

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 . .

There was one picture in particular she remembered, and Lena thumbed through the stack until she found it. Using a razor blade, she made a kisscut over the image, scoring just the surface of the photograph, but not cutting all the way through to the back, and excised Hank from the scene. Bonnie, their golden lab, had been glued in his place.

Looking for a review of Kisscut?  Check out:

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Amazon Rating: 4.24 out of 5 stars based on 423 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.42 out of 5 stars based on 234 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.11 out of 5 stars based on 27,053 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.79 out of 5 stars based on 479 ratings

Total Score 4.11 (updated 12/5/18)


faint_cold_fear2#3-A Faint Cold Fear- 2003

Winner of the 2003 Reviewer’s Choice Award for Best Contemporary Mystery

A Sample Clip of the Audiobook

First Line:

Sara Linton stared at the entrance to the Dairy Queen, watching her very pregnant sister walk out with a cup of chocolate-covered ice cream in each hand.


Sara Linton, Jeffrey Tolliver, Lena Adams, Nan Thomas, and Hank Norton

Ethan Green: Lena Adams lover and tormentor

The Setting

Grant County, Georgia

An apparent student suicide has brought medical examiner Sara Linton to the local college campus, along with her ex-husband, police chief Jeffrey Tolliver. But a horribly mutilated corpse yields up few answers. And a suspicious rash of subsequent “suicides” suggests that a different kind of terror is stalking the youth of Heartsdale, Georgia — a nightmare that is coming to prey on Sara Linton’s loved ones.

A small town is being transformed into a killing ground. And the key to a sadistic murderer’s motive and identity may be held in the unsteady hands of a campus security guard — a former police detective driven from the force by the hellish memories that will never leave her. Lena Adams survived the unthinkable and has paid a devastating price. Now the survival of future victims may depend upon her … when she can barely protect herself.

Looking for a review of A Faint Cold Fear?  Check out:

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Book Shelves & Window Seats

Amazon Rating-US: 4.10 out of 5 stars based on 397 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.50 out of 5 stars based on 174 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.11 out of 5 stars based on 26,389 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.79 out of 5 stars based on 431 ratings

Total Score 4.11 (updated 12/5/18)


indelible2#4-Indelible- 2004

Listed #47 out of 121 on Goodreads Forensic Fiction Book List

Listed #104 out of 168 on Goodreads Science Thrillers Book List

A Sample Clip of the Audiobook

First Line:

“Well, look what the cat dragged in,” Maria Simms bellowed, giving Sara a pointed look over her silver-rimmed bifocals.


Sara Linton, Jeffrey Tolliver, Lena Adams, Nan Thomas, Hank Norton and Ethan Green

The Setting

Grant County, Georgia and Sylacauga, Alabama

Two armed men enter the police station in tiny Heartsdale, Georgia, and open fire. When the shooting stops, an officer is dead, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver is seriously wounded, and the survivors — including a class of grade-school children and medical examiner Sara Linton — are held hostage. In a tense standoff that could erupt at any moment into more bloodletting — with her ex-husband on the threshold of death — Sara must search for answers and an escape in the memories of a time at the start of their relationship when another brutal, shocking crime shattered their small-town world. Because the sins of the past have caught up with Sara and Jeffrey … with a vengeance.

Looking for a review of Indelible?  Check out:

Left Coast Reader

The Beautiful Book Break


Amazon Rating-US: 4.35 out of 5 stars based on 332 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.55 out of 5 stars based on 152 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.19 out of 5 stars based on 27,924 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.85 out of 5 stars based on 405 ratings

Total Score 4.19 (updated 12/5/18)


faithless2#5-Faithless- 2005

First Line:

Rain had saturated the forest floor, soaking twigs and fallen limbs so that they bent without snapping.


Sara Linton , Jeffrey Tolliver, Lena Adams, Nan Thomas, Ethan Green and Hank Norton

The Setting

Grant County, Georgia

The victim was buried alive in the Georgia woods–then killed in a horrifying fashion. When Sara Linton and Jeffrey Tolliver stumble upon the body, both become consumed with finding out who killed the pretty young woman. For them, a harrowing journey begins, one that will test their own turbulent relationship and draw dozens of life into the case.

For as Jeffrey and Sara move further down a trail of shocking surprises and hidden passions, neither is prepared for the most stunning discovery of all: the identity of a killer who is more evil and dangerous than anyone could have guessed.

Suddenly Connolly spoke up, angrier that Sara could have imagined. “Young lady, you are either at the right hand of God, or you are not.”

Sara blushed crimson at his tone. “I just-“

“You are either the faithful or the faithless,” Connolly insisted. There was a Bible on the table and he picked it up, raising his voice. “I pity the faithless, for they inherit an eternity in the fiery pits of hell.”

Looking for a review of Faithless?  Check out:

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Amazon Rating-US: 4.34 out of 5 stars based on 296 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.40 out of 5 stars based on 153 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.12 out of 5 stars based on 22,586 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.81 out of 5 stars based on 436 ratings

Total Score 4.12 (updated 12/5/18)


beyond_reach2#6-Beyond Reach- 2007 (Skin Privilege-UK title)

First Line:

What had they given her?


Sara Linton, Jeffrey Tolliver, Lena Adams, Nan Thomas, Ethan Green, and Hank Norton

The Setting

Grant County, Georgia

In a stifling hospital room in a small Georgia town, Detective Lena Adams sits, silent and angry—the only suspect in a horrific murder. Soon, a hundred miles away, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver will get the call that his young detective has been arrested. And Jeffrey’s wife, pediatrician and medical examiner Sara Linton, has troubles of her own and little patience for Lena or her dramas. Fighting a heartbreaking malpractice suit, Sara cannot guess that within days she herself will be at the center of a bizarre and murderous case.

For Lena has fled back to the place where she grew up hard, careening back through the shadows of her past and into a shocking underground world of bigotry and rage. And now only Jeffrey and Sara can free Lena from the web of lies and brutality that has trapped her—as this powerhouse of a novel races toward its shattering climax…and a final, unforgettable twist.

But wasn’t that why Sara loved Jeffrey? Because he refused to give up on people, no matter how beyond reach they seemed. Sara was hardly one to talk about women making stupid mistakes with men. She had married Jeffrey twice, leaving him the first time after coming home to find him in bed with another woman. Jeffrey had changed over the years since their divorce, though. He worked to get Sara back, to regain her trust and mend their relationship. She loved this new Jeffrey with such passion that it scared her sometimes.

Looking for a review of Beyond Reach?  Check out:

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The Limit of Books Does Not Exist

Amazon Rating-US: 3.32 out of 5 stars based on 495 ratings

Amazon Rating-UK: 4.34 out of 5 stars based on 254 ratings

GoodReads Rating: 4.19 out of 5 stars based on 21,647 ratings

Library Thing Rating: 3.76 out of 5 stars based on 370 ratings

Total Score 4.17 (updated 12/5/18)

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