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Indelible    by Karin Slaughter order for
by Karin Slaughter
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2004 (2004)
Hardcover, CD

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is the fourth of Karin Slaughter's chillers (after Blindsighted, Kisscut, and A Faint Cold Fear) starring pediatrician/coroner Sara Linton and her ex-husband Jeffrey Tolliver. How these characters rebound, after the horrific things that happen to them and to those they love, is difficult to comprehend - they should all be in full-time therapy. However, they do soldier on, and Jeffrey and Sara even manage some hot liaisons ... that is, whenever they're still talking to each other. These are strong people with forceful personalities, who engage in lively conflicts, the latest being that Jeffrey wants to re-marry Sara and she refuses.

In Indelible, the author switches her murder and mayhem between past and present. In the present, two young men invade the Heartsdale police station and start shooting, their main target being its Chief of Police. Unfortunately, a group of school kids is visiting the station at the time. Though some manage to escape, there are deaths and a hostage situation ensues, involving Sara amongst others. On the outside is Jeffrey's protegé, Lena Adams, still recovering from her close encounter with a serial killer in Kisscut, and barely back on the job again after a stint as a security officer in A Faint Cold Fear. Lena (my favorite character next to Sara) has a minor (but pivotal) role in events, as well as surprising news for series fans in this episode.

The backstory tracks Jeff and Sara's early relationship, during which (and despite warnings of Tolliver's philandering nature from friends and family) Sara and he head off on a trip to Florida. They never get there. Jeffrey decides to expose all his dirty laundry to Sara by taking her to Sylacauga, the hometown he has not visited for many years. There she meets Jeff's two best friends (who call him Slick), Robert and Possum, and their wives, Jessie and Nell, as well as Tolliver's mentor/father figure, police chief Hoss. Of course, Sara stumbles on bodies too, as is her wont. The first appears to be a prowler accidentally shot by Robert and the second is a colder case, the corpse of a young woman who at one point accused Jeff of rape.

Slaughter skillfully builds the tension in both eras and, as usual, keeps her protagonists hopping from one catastrophe to the next. We wonder what links the two scenarios, and the answers are shocking indeed. If you like gruesome thrillers with strong characterization, then try this series.

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