Karin Slaughter's taut, harrowing debut, Blindsighted, established her as a unique and strong new voice in crime fiction; her second novel, KISSCUT, is even better. Once again, Dr. Sara Linton, the town pediatrician and coroner in tiny Heartsdale, Georgia, teams up with her divorced but still beloved husband, Jeffrey, the Chief of Police, as well as Det. Lena Adams, who survived a horrific ordeal in Blindsighted, to find the truth behind a tragic crime.

It starts with a teenage girl aiming a gun at a more popular, attractive boy, daring the police to stop her before she shoots him—seeming at first to be another case of teen melodrama fatally mixed with firearms. However, when Sarah examines the girl, Jenny Weaver, she finds signs of terrible, longstanding abuse, which her mother never knew about. Sarah and Jeffrey are horrified by what's been done to Jenny—and that she never told anyone about it—but what they later uncover under their small town's placid facade is far, far worse.

This is a graphic, complex, viscerally powerful novel that may make some readers uncomfortable. However, there's a strong, steady current of love, both familial and romantic, balancing the bleak events. In elegant prose, Slaughter takes an unflinching look at human relationships, violence, and redemption. (Oct., 352 pp., $24.95)

Reviewed by: 
Laurie Davie