Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Fiction Review: The Blinds

My latest audiobook was The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh, a suspenseful thriller with a very unique premise.

The Blinds is the nickname for Caesura, a town located in the middle of nowhere in Texas, about 100 miles from the nearest neighbor. It's an unusual town, with about 50 residents, all of them there voluntarily as part of a unique witness protection program that started eight years ago. Each resident goes through a medical procedure before arriving that erases parts of their memory so that none of them remembers why they are there, what circumstances led to them coming to The Blinds, and most importantly, which criminal(s) they snitched on to end up there. In fact, none of the residents - or even the sheriffs - know who is a criminal and who is an innocent witness or what any of their real names are. When each person came to The Blinds, he or she chose a new name - picking a first name and a last name from lists of movie stars and ex-vice-presidents. As the novel opens, Fran Adams is remembering her intake day, meeting Sheriff Calvin Cooper for the first time and choosing her name. Fran is unique in the town because she was pregnant when she moved there and has the only child in Caesura, an eight-year-old boy. Fran now wonders whether this is the best environment for her son to grow up in, but what choice does she have? Like all the other residents, she stays here in this isolated place because it protects her and her son from the outside world, from whoever out there might want to kill her for whatever she witnessed or did or knew. On this Monday, though, everything is about to change for the residents and for Sheriff Cooper because the town has its first murder, something that should be impossible in a fenced-in anonymous town where no one is allowed to have firearms (the sheriff has one, but he never loads it). Did someone manage to get in? Has one of the residents remembered something and somehow gotten a gun? After eight years of peace and quiet and solitude, the outside world is about to invade The Blinds and reveal some of its secrets.

I really enjoyed this fast-paced thriller (I was surprised to see that the print edition is 400 pages long because I listened to it in record time) that is also something of a closed-room mystery. The premise reminded me a bit of Fifty Mice, which I read last fall and also liked, though The Blinds has its own unique twists. Both novels have in common an intriguing premise related to witness protection, missing memories, and a sense of humor. Here, some of the humor comes from the names of the people in the town, which all sound slightly familiar because of their origins - names like Hubert Humphrey Gable (the murdered man), Greta Fillmore (the bartender), and Walter Robinson (the sheriff's deputy). This adds a welcome bit of levity to what could otherwise be a very dark story, though it was a little bit confusing at first listening on audio. As the story gets rolling, the action picks up, leading to a climactic stand-off. There is plenty of suspense here and even more surprises, as secrets of the town's residents - and the program they are a part of - gradually come to light. My husband doesn't usually listen to audiobooks on his own, but I'm going to help him import this one into his iTunes because I know he will like it, too! And now I am interested in reading one of the author's earlier novels, Shovel Ready, which was nominated for an Edgar award.

400 pages, Ecco

Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher in return for an honest review. My review is my own opinion and is not influenced by my relationship with the publisher or author.

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Listen to a sample of the audio from Chapter 1.

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  1. I want to read The Blinds and Fifty Mice. Why are there so many good books to read?! I need to quite my job and read 24 / 7 to get them all read. :-)

    1. Both were great - I think you'd enjoy them. That sounds like a great plan!

  2. What a fun premise! I'm glad to hear it was good :)