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Book Critique - Beyond Reach (Grant County Series #6)

For review of all books in the anthology: Go here.

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Karin's plot truly gets under your skin, keeping you breathless all the time, gluing you to the edge of the seats, while each turn of the page gives you new suspense and unexpected turns.

Beyond Reach is the final book in the Grant County Series by Karin Slaughter published in July of 2007. This book was titled as Skin Privilege for the European Market.

The series is set in the fictional Grant County in Georgia. The plots revolve around three main characters - Dr. Sara Linton, the town's pediatrician and part-time coroner; Chief of Police Jeffrey Tolliver, Linton's ex-husband; and his subordinate, Detective Lena Adams. 

Dr. Sara Linton, now married to Chief of Police, Jeffrey Tolliver, is hit with a malpractice suit. While she and Jeffrey are facing the daily drama in Grant County around this suit, Jeffrey's subordinate, Detective Lena Adams, is arrested in her home town, Reese. Now it's upto Jeffrey and Sara to find out what happened in Reese three days ago that lead to Lena's arrest; and get her free out of jail.

The narration of the plot goes back and forth between the current events and events that took place three days ago. Along the way we get to meet some really seriously bad people and some who have just accepted the way of life as it is; while others who strive to do the right thing.

Having already read one book from the Will Trent Series, that starts a year before this final book, I was introduced to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) for which Will Trent works. But looks like, Karin has her use for that agency in this series as well. That one feeble string connects both the series, even though Karin ended this series with this book. 

At one point, Karin had her lead character, Jeffrey, wonder about his opponent "hitting like a girl". I always frowned at that expression. A few years ago, I remember seeing a video where a teacher asks the boys in her class to show how does a girl hit, and at the same time asks the girls to show how they hit. It was an eye-opening exercise not only for the boys in the class, but also the viewers. You will be surprised how the boys change their opinion at the end. I could not find that video to share here, but I am sure if Karin had written this book this year, she wouldn’t have used that phrase. Times have changed to an extent.

As with her Will Trent Series, Karin brings forth to everyone's attention on issues in our society that still are very much valid even after 13 years since this book was written, if any, they make more sense now than then. One subject she touches on is white supremacy and racism, which is interlinked with her second subject - drugs, its business, addiction and how it destroys lives and families, and the impact on anyone connected to.

The picture Karin paints of how Hank Toliver lived with his drug addiction, in an almost dilapidated house, makes you not only nauseous but also pause and think on how a human being can destroy their own body, live a life in filth out of choice.  

The third subject she explores around is about abuse - be it by family or a spouse / partner or even a friend. The vicious cycle of how the one who is abused no matter how successfully they had gotten out of the clutches of the abuser, when faced with the abuser again, the courage dissipates and they are cornered, if only in their minds. It is a vicious cycle to break through and Karin brought it to surface expertly, even though the entire scene gives some serious shivers down the reader's spine.

Towards the end of the book, in her acknowledgements section, Karin mentions a winner for her "Get Slaughtered" contest - Sue Kurylowicz - whom Karin casts in this plot, as a bad girl. Interesting contest. I don’t see such contests happening lately.

Definitely there are more gorier and grittier parts than the Will Trent Series. Yet she ended the series despite several sub-plots remaining open or budding as offs-shoots in this plot - unresolved situation between Ethan and Lena; Something that Jeffrey wanted to tell Sara; and many others. And the ending was devastating none the less.

I read on her website where she had an open-letter to the readers. I suppose there was an uproar back when the book had come out, and she must have received a lot of critics on her ending. However, from her point of view if we see, she has drained every last drop she could out of the series, and whatever next might come may not be as powerful. That the series was turning into a Jessica Fletcher Syndrome - which she quotes too by the way - and certainly seemed to need an ending.

Yet, she could have given a different one. With what the characters went through, at least per the snippets I came across in this book of their past, she could have given a somewhat peaceful and happy ending to them. It came totally as a shock, even to a first-time reader like me. Reminded me of the way the makers of the TV show NCIS ended the character Caitilin "Kate" Todd, portrayed by Sasha Alexander, in Season 2 in 2004-2005. For anyone watching it the first time will definitely get a jerk up their spine causing unending shivers. I had even commented about it in my blog here.

Despite the disagreement in the ending, I feel that Karin gave us a clever plot spun around murder and mayhem, delving into social issues and darker minds of humans, fringed lightly with romance. Karin's plot again gets under your skin. However, knowing how she ended the series, I most likely will not be picking the series from the beginning. None the less, you should if you like a mystery that keeps you up in the night and also thoroughly engaged.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. TV Shows, Movies, Music, Books nd Media we come across along the way:

i. Music - Joan Jett's Bad Reputation; 

ii. Movies - Deliverance; 

iii. Books - I am the Cheese;

b. Lawyers aiding Sara in the lawsuit: Melinda Stiles for Global Medical Indemnity; Buddy Conford, her personal lawyer. 

c. Lena's friend Charlotte is married to Larry Gibson, has three kids. She was Sybil's lover when they were teenagers. 

d. Karin infers about Amanda Wagner, GBI Head, putting in a team to deal with violent crimes that cross county lines. A perfect segue to Will Trent Series, we see in here. 

e. Karin failed to explain why there was an X chalk mark in front of Lena's hotel room door.

f. Ethan Green warns Jeffrey that he will get him, and that Jeffrey should watch for his mailbox. So was he behind the mailbox bomb at Sara and Jeffrey's home? That was not clear from Karin's writing but I am guessing Ethan would have played a big part in that. 

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Dr. Sara Linton's family - parents Cathy and Eddie Linton; husband Chief of Police Jeffrey Tolliver whom she remarried six months prior to this plot (Perhaps covered in one of the previous book?); sister Tessa, counselor for homeless people.

i. She was assaulted and raped when she was working as an intern at Grady Hospital which also caused her to lose the ability to give birth. Perhaps covered in one of the previous books, again?

ii. Jeffrey and Sara get approved to adopt a baby boy towards the end. 

b. Detective Lena Adams family - uncle Henry "Hank" Norton; twin sister Sibyl who was murdered by a serial killer (again another plot covered in a previous book?); her ex-boyfriend Ethan Green, locked up in jail; supposedly dead mother Angela Adams nee Norton; dead father Calvin Adams.

i. She had got an abortion six months prior to the time this plot was set in.

c. Other staff from Grant County's Police Department - Frank Wallace, Jeffrey's Second-in-Command; 

d. Georgia Bureau of Investigation Team (GBI) - Nick Shelton; 

e. Law Enforcement in Reese - Deputy Donald "Don" Cook; Sheriff Jake Valentine (his wife is Myra); Fred Bart, coroner; Aver, the judge; Al Pfeiffer, Jake's predecessor as the Sheriff.

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