Book Review / Karin Slaughter / Reviews with Spoilers

Karin Slaughter | Kisscut (Grant County #2)

The Book: 

Kisscut by Karin Slaughter (Grant County #2)
Published September 30th 2003 by Harper
Date re-read: September 24, 2022

The Characters: 

Sara Linton, Grant County pediatrician and coroner

Jeffrey Tolliver, her ex-husband, chief of police

Lena Adams, police detective


Buy it on | Amazon

The Plot (from Goodreads):

Saturday night dates at the skating rink have been a tradition in the small southern town of Heartsdale for as long as anyone can remember, but when a teenage quarrel explodes into a deadly shoot-out, Sara Linton–the town’s pediatrician and medical examiner–finds herself entangled in a terrible tragedy.

What seemed at first to be a horrific but individual catastrophe proves to have wider implications. The autopsy reveals evidence of long-term abuse, of ritualistic self-mutilation, but when Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver start to investigate, they are frustrated at every turn.

The children surrounding the victim close ranks. The families turn their backs. Then a young girl is abducted, and it becomes clear that the first death is linked to an even more brutal crime, one far more shocking than anyone could have imagined. Meanwhile, detective Lena Adams, still recovering from her sister’s death and her own brutal attack, finds herself drawn to a young man who might hold the answers. But unless Lena, Sara, and Jeffrey can uncover the deadly secrets the children hide, it’s going to happen again.

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

This writeup might also contain minor spoilers for Blindsighted.

Kisscut picks up four months after Blindsighted left off. Lena is out of the hospital and back on the force, although she has a long way to go before recovering mentally. Jeffrey and Sara have been casually dating, but Sara is taking things extremely slowly and still isn’t sure if she trusts Jeffrey.

The two were at the staking rink on a date when their night went wrong. Jenny Weaver was holding Mark Patterson at gunpoint. She told Jeffrey to shoot her or else she’ll kill him, and Jeffrey believed her. He shot and killed Jenny. Sara found a dead baby in the bathroom, which she had just seen Jenny exit. Karin has a thing for making Sara find tragedies in public bathrooms!

When Sara performed an autopsy on Jenny’s body, she found extensive evidence of abuse and self-harm. She also discovered that the baby couldn’t have been Jenny’s, because Jenny’s vagina was sewn closed.

As the investigation progressed, we learn that Jenny was friends with Mark’s sister Lacey, and that the two were outcasts at school. There was something fishy going on with their church, but we don’t know what yet. Lacey showed up at Sara’s clinic looking very sick, but before Sara could treat her, Mark showed up and scared Lacey off. As Lacey ran away from Mark, a van drove by and picked her up.

Mark told Lena that both he and their father had been sleeping with Lacey. He claimed that Lacey came on to him after a fight. He also confirmed that he had slept with Jenny multiple times in the past, and then admitted that he was also having sex with his mom. After admitting all of this, Mark tried to kill himself. Lena and Brad stopped him in time, but he went into a coma and likely wouldn’t survive without significant brain damage.

Sara realized that Jenny’s body hadn’t yet been picked up from the morgue and thought that was strange, so Lena and Jeffrey went to her mother Dottie’s house to investigate. The raincoat that Lacey had last been seen in was there. Someone had also rigged Jenny’s room with a bomb. They found a magazine titled “Child-Lovers” with the same logo that Mark had tattooed on his hand. Both Mark and Jenny were featured in the magazine.

The Twist:

Jeffrey got a call in the middle of the night from a man whose wife stole his daughter when she as 3. The daughter was Jenny and the wife was Dottie. Dottie worked in the delivery ward at the hospital, and there were rumors that Dottie was abusing babies. Dottie had taken Jenny and disappeared, along with her friend Grace.

Dottie and Grace were running a child pornography ring, distributing magazines to a network of pedophiles. They were grooming Jenny, Lacey, Mark, and others, and Mark was tasked with luring in other children.

Nick Shelton had broken the case from the other side: the GBI had been working a long time to bust a child porn ring. Nick caught someone that turned on the other members, and Jeffrey joined Nick on a bust where they were supposed to be selling the magazines. Jeffrey was surprised to see that Dave Fine, the pastor, was the one that Nick’s CI was supposed to be meeting.

Dave Fine led Nick and Jeffrey to Lacey, after they (falsely) promised him solitary confinement. Dottie escaped again.

Grace had been the baby’s mother. Jenny had started the FGM on herself, after reading about African tribes doing it to ensure a child’s purity. She thought it would protect her from the men her mother was selling her to. She passed out from the pain, and Dottie had to stitch her up since they couldn’t bring her to a hospital.

The Ending:

The ending was less than happy, since Dottie was still free and Mark was going to die. There was no Jeffrey and Sara relationship update at the end.

The title: This time it had nothing to do with the plot. There’s a scene where Lena is looking through old photos, and finds one where she had cut Hank out of the scene. She says she cut him out by making a “kisscut” on the paper by not cutting all the way through, just scoring the top in order to remove him.


The book skipped over Teddy’s involvement. Lacey said he didn’t know anything, but Mark had told Lena that Teddy was raping Lacey too. I was surprised that Sara never asked Lacey if Teddy had ever touched her inappropriately.

It was never clear where Jenny got the gun. Presumably from her mother?

The Review: 

Welcome back to my re-read of Karin Slaughter’s Grant County series. If you’ve already read Blindsighted, check out my review and spoiler discussion. If you haven’t, I do recommend starting at the beginning of the series to gain some important insight into the main characters. Kisscut could be read as a standalone if you’re just here for the police procedural, but the real joy in this series comes from the stories of the recurring characters. Kisscut also definitely includes spoilers for Blindsighted.

The case in Kisscut is just as grisly as Blindsighted, this time involving child abuse. Yes, her topics can be hard to listen to, but that is the point. I love that she isn’t afraid to put these topics out there. The reader is supposed to be uncomfortable with the case, because you should be upset that these things happen in real life. As always, I’m so impressed by Karin’s plotting and research. I can’t put these books down, and want to dive into the next one right away!

My lackluster opinion of Jeffrey has not changed since my reread of Blindsighted. He said some icky things about Sara at the beginning of the book: commenting on how she never shaves or makes an effort to dress pretty for him. Ugh. I’ve always been Team Will, but it’s little things like this that solidify it for me during my re-read! I’m wondering when he begins to grow on me…

This book is also where I began to dislike Lena: in Blindsighted, her actions could be excused by the fact that she just lost her twin sister. In Kisscut, though, she is clearly a detriment to the police force and badly in need of some therapy. She’s a loose cannon, and no one seems to care!

Head to my review and summary of the next book, A Faint Cold Fear, here!

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

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