I guess as good a point to start as any is with one of the three main characters in UNDONE. Hopefully, some of y’all are familiar with Sara Linton, Will Trent and Faith Mitchell. I am a devoted series book reader, and I know that some folks like one author’s series over another, and some folks are really loyal to one series and never read the other, and some folks are really loud about it. I guess maybe some of these some folks I’m talking about might be thinking I am a sneaky goober for combining the two. I hope in the end that you enjoy the combination. I certainly did.
Let me begin with Sara Linton. She is from Grant County. She’s a pediatrician by training, and while she was living in Grant, she was also the town coroner. If you’re not familiar with how small towns work across America, the job of coroner is usually an elected position, so basically all you need to do in order to become the coroner is (1) get enough people to vote for you and (2) not be afraid of touching dead people. The fact that Sara Linton is a medical doctor (believe it or not, there are some dentists thrown in there) is very rare for a town Grant County’s size. Generally, the local mortician takes the job, and if he gets anything hinky, he calls in the state to help out. In Georgia, that phone call is made to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, which is to the state what the FBI is to the nation. Lots of states have state bureaus of investigation, but not all of them do. Georgia was one of the first, and our locals have worked cases from the Atlanta Child Murders to the Tri-State Crematory to Gary Hilton, a serial killer who was caught last year.
Sara had something bad happen to her in Grant County (which readers of Beyond Reach will know about). After spending a year in agony, she decided that the only way she was going to get on with her life was to move away from everything she knew: her family, her job, her hometown. I have always loved writing about Sara because she has such a strong moral compass. She also loves her family very much. They have been there for her at every step of her life, which makes her even more unanchored when she leaves them. I think it’s important to change things up for characters as much as I can because, once you become too familiar with them, you can get complacent. Sara still has a lot of secrets about herself that need to be told, and I like doling them out slowly.
When UNDONE opens, we find Sara working in the emergency room at Grady Hospital. Grady is a public hospital, a level-four trauma center — one of the only in the region — and it’s a great place to go if you’ve been shot or stabbed or air-lifted after a bad car accident, but if you go there with a cold or a tummyache, you’d better be prepared to wait six hours to see a doctor. It was one of the first hospitals to offer treatment for AIDS patients, the first to focus on women’s health, and it is always the last to get any money from the state and federal government. Grady is shamefully underfunded and vital to the local community. But, I’m not here to lecture you on the desperate state of the hospital system, so, let’s get to the crime that opens UNDONE:
Sara is about to end her shift when a woman is rushed into the emergency room. Battered and beaten, she’s barely awake — and barely alive. A quick exam shows untold horrors have been visited on the victim. Signs of torture riddle her body, and when Sara looks at her X-Rays, an even more dastardly detail is realized.
To be continued…