Karin Slaughter | A Faint Cold Fear (Grant County #3)

The Book: 

A Faint Cold Fear by Karin Slaughter
Published July 27th 2004 by HarperTorch
Date re-read: October 7, 2022

The Characters: 

Sara Linton, Grant County pediatrician and coroner

Jeffrey Tolliver, her ex-husband, chief of police

Lena Adams


Buy it on Bookshop.org | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Sara Linton, medical examiner in the small town of Heartsdale, Georgia, is called out to an apparent suicide on the local college campus. The mutilated body provides little in the way of clues — and the college authorities are eager to avoid a scandal — but for Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, things don’t add up.

Two more suspicious suicides follow, and a young woman is brutally attacked. For Sara, the violence strikes far too close to home. And as Jeffrey pursues the sadistic killer, he discovers that ex-police detective Lena Adams, now a security guard on campus, may be in possession of crucial information. But, bruised and angered by her expulsion from the force, Lena seems to be barely capable of protecting herself, let alone saving the next victim…

Click here for book spoilers for A Faint Cold Fear
Book spoilers ahead–if you haven’t yet read A Faint Cold Fear, I suggest you turn back now.

This writeup contains spoilers for the earlier books in the series.

A Faint Cold Fear picks up another few months after Kisscut leaves off (one year from when Sybil died in Blindsighted). Lena has left the police force in favor of being a campus security guard at the college, working for Chuck Gains. Tessa is very pregnant and almost due.

Sara was hanging out with Tessa when she got called to a crime scene by Jeffrey. While Sara was investigating, Tessa disappeared. Sara found her in the woods–she had been stabbed in the stomach and had a head injury.

Now, this is the book where Lena goes totally off the rails and starts dating a violent abusive skinhead, Ethan.

Chuck Gains is found dead in his office, killed by a knife very similar to Lena’s. Jeffery arrests Lena and Ethan, but when Sara performs Chuck’s autopsy, she finds the tip of the weapon inside his body. Lena’s knife wasn’t broken.

The Twist:

Richard, Sibyl’s old TA, was Brian Carter’s son from his first marriage. He had stolen Sibyl’s research and brought it to Brian to try to earn his affection. Andy had found Brian’s journals which was evidence that Brian was stealing the research, so Richard killed him. The jogger had seen him when she called 911. Tessa Linton had recognized Richard in the woods, so he stabbed her too. He hadn’t killed Scooter, that was a coincidence.

Richard had come to Nan’s to get some of Sibyl’s notes while Lena was there. He confessed o her and was about to kill Lena, but he fumbled loading the gun. Frank showed up just in time and shot Richard through the window. He hadn’t mentioned Chuck in his confession, but in a later conversation between Jeffrey and Sara we find out that Lena had implied that he had.

The Ending:

Jeffrey tells Sara that he wants to make it work with her again, for real. He wants to get remarried and move back in. Sara tells him that they tried that once and it didn’t work out, but when her parents kind of give their approval of Jeffrey, she starts to reconsider.

Lena and Ethan also leave things open to possibility, saying they’ll see each other around. At the very end, we find out that Lena had killed Chuck when he tried to assault her. She had two knives–one had been found at the scene, and the other was the one with the broken tip.

The title: I didn’t notice the title in the text, so if you know where it is please comment!

The Review: 

A Faint Cold Fear is #3 in the Grant County series, taking place a year after Blindsighted. If you’ve been following along, I’m re-reading both the Grant County and Will Trent series in time for the newest Will Trent book coming in 2023–and recording spoilers for them this time around.

A Faint Cold Fear begins with an apparent suicide, but when multiple more deaths immediately follow, it becomes clear that there’s more to it than meets the eye.

I’m still not really on board with Jeffrey. He gave Sara a hard time about speaking to her ex while she was grieving at a hospital, so the tally of icky things he’s said continues. At the time of writing this review, though, I’ve already re-read Indelible as well. I’m a little more on board with this second chance after that one, but still can’t wait for Will.

Lena’s tricky. She’s easy to hate because she’s constantly making terrible decisions, but she has also been through a lot. I don’t think her experiences excuse her actions, though. In this book Lena has quit the police force and is now a security officer at Grant Tech, because her love for the bottle started to catch up to her. She also starts dating an abusive skinhead, so that’s fun.

Although I love every book in this series, A Faint Cold Fear has been one of my least favorites. That makes it hard to assign a star rating too, because I still enjoyed it far more than many other books, but to me it doesn’t hold up to my love for Blindsighted and Kisscut. As mentioned, though, I’m already on to the next one, and Indelible is one of my favorites!

If you’re looking for a matching set of the Grant County books, most of them are included in this set, which I purchased recently and love!

Grant County books in order

A Faint Cold Fear
Beyond Reach

Follow me on Bloglovin’!

We're trying to grow our mailing list. If you join us and stick around, you will automatically be entered into two giveaways as a token of our thanks. And that's just the start!


  1. Pingback: URL

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *