When Sara is called out to the scene of a teenage suicide, the case takes an unexpected and far more personal turn when Sara’s heavily pregnant sister, Tessa, is attacked and left for dead. Sara must fight to save the life of her sister and that of her unborn child while the attacker may still be in the vicinity. As Tessa is rushed to hospital, Sara is consumed with guilt and must face the wrath of her parents for even taking Tessa to a crime scene in the first place.
As Sara waits for news on her sister, Jeffrey delves into the investigation of the dead teenage boy and discovers his former detective, Lena Adams, is now working with campus security. Lena is connected to the teenage boy in some way Jeffrey cannot fathom and he becomes even more suspicious when it appears Lena may be tampering with evidence. As two more teenagers die in suspicious circumstances, Jeffrey needs Sara’s help proving the deaths are murders rather than suicides before someone else is killed.
A Faint Cold Fear is the third instalment of the Grant County series which focuses on cases being investigated by medical examiner, Sara Linton, and her ex-husband, Jeffrey Tolliver. Sara is spending the afternoon with her sister, Tessa, and when Jeffrey calls her to the scene of a suicide, she takes Tessa with her to save some time but it is a decision Sara will have cause to regret when Tessa disappears. When Tessa is found nearby with severe stab wounds, Sara has to contain her emotions and remain calm as she fights to save her sister’s life. As Sara battles to save Tessa, realising it is already far too late for her unborn child, the scenes are particularly harrowing.
The police investigation regarding the suicides is probably one of my least favourites in the Grant County series as it pales considerably in comparison to the heightened emotions being experienced by Sara and her family. Jeffrey’s investigation seems to be thwarted at every turn by the abhorrent behaviour of Lena Adams who seems to be on another downward spiral. I have no idea why people care so much for Lena because I am so tired of her destructive behaviour and really wish she would just disappear, alas I know she sticks around for a couple more books. Lena really needs to be brought to task for her interference in this investigation but she always seems to get away with it because people feel sorry for her.
The crimes scenes are as gruesome as I’ve come to expect from Karin Slaughter with a little too much detail on what happens to piercings in sensitive areas when a body falls from a great height which will leave you shuddering. The case plot is well detailed and spins out nicely but I just could not work up any enthusiasm for it. It is the characters who lift this story from the mundane as they are all excellently portrayed as usual, although they don’t really evolve much in this instalment. Sara and Jeffrey’s relationship is at an impasse as Sara’s main attention is diverted by her sister’s plight, however there are definite hints of a decision being made towards reconciliation.