The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Somewhere out in the vastness of west Texas is an entire town with amnesia.
Officially it’s called Caesura, but the locals refer to it as The Blinds. The residents are either criminals or witnesses in hiding because all have undergone a process which removed their personal memories, and none remember which they are. The entire town is kept secure and hidden from the world, and most inhabitants go about their business quietly wondering what might have put them in a position to completely surrender their identities, and whether they were guilty of horrible crimes or an innocent who got caught up in something. However, two violent deaths shatter the quiet routine and set the entire town on edge. While Sheriff Calvin Cooper is technically a guard and not a resident, he’s got his own secrets even as he investigates and tries to keep everyone calm.
Author Megan Abbott brought this one to my attention by praising it on what the kids these days call social media, and when Mighty Megan talks, I listen. That policy paid off nicely with this one.
Aside from a humdinger of a set-up the writing is a cut above what you’d normally get in a crime/sci-fi thriller. There’s a lot top notch characterization, and the imagery of this small town out in the middle of the barren Texas landscape gives the whole thing an excellent tone of isolation. The plot has plenty of solid twists and turns, and the ultimate revelations are satisfying. However, what the novel really excels at is how it weaves together all these characters with pasts hidden even from themselves.
It combines the elements of a great page-turner with some deeper thoughts on identity and memory with a unique setting. Overall, it’s one of the better books I’ve read this year.
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