The Blinds is somewhere between Kill Bill – for body count – and True Blood – for quirky small-town humour and a fairly casual attitude toward things which are actually pretty out-of-this-world.
Caesura is a tiny town, population 48, in the tornado belt of the U.S.A. Surrounded by tall chain link fences, you won’t find it on any map and you’ll have to drive for hours from the closest town to find it, even if you know where it is.
Nicknamed ‘The Blinds’, the residents are mostly criminals. Convicted of serious crimes, they’ve been given a new start because they chose to roll over and give up valuable information to the police about their criminal associates.
Except they don’t remember what their serious crime was. And they have no idea what information they gave up, or who might want to kill them because of it. They can leave at any time, but once they leave they can’t come back again. And the last person who left… let’s just say, it didn’t end well.
Before entering Caesura, each resident has all memories associated with their crimes erased using a new technique patented by the fairly mysterious Dr Holliday. Because the best way to hide a secret is to hide it from yourself.
I loved the premise – wouldn’t it be wonderful to just hit ‘delete’ on any bad memories from your past? To not be haunted by them, or have them smack you in the face when you least expect it?
I really, really enjoyed reading The Blinds and didn’t want to put it down. I let the kids have more iPad time than usual, delayed making school lunches until after dinner and then stayed up late into the night reading it.
Setting the scene for the book by visiting the local sheriff’s station – in a makeshift trailer – and conversations down at the pub, made it feel very much like an irreverent small-town drama. Except for the memory deletion thing… and the not-knowing-if-your-neighbour-is-a-serial-killer thing. You know, minor details like that…
The characters descriptions made me laugh out loud:
Robinson is a fiftysomething African American man who’s long since come to pleasant terms with his expansive middle-aged belly. Having a belly, he’s realized, is the natural product of millions of years of evolution, a fat-storing reflex developed in the days when famine for humans was a constant concern. Robinson has come to accept himself as a creature programmed by nature to do what it takes to survive lean times. This is a good life philosophy in general, he suspects.
Some of the residents are ‘innocents’ – those who would otherwise be in witness protection programs but have done nothing wrong themselves. The problem is, nobody knows who is an innocent and who is not. The town’s sheriff has his own opinions:
Of course, in Cooper’s experience, everyone living here thinks they must be an innocent; they’re certain of it. Which means probably none of them are.
Best of all, many of the town’s inhabitants seem just so very… normal:
Robinson frowns. He’s amassed an impressive collection of frowns over the years, to go with an extensive arsenal of shrugs. These frowns and shrugs, deployed in various combinations, serve him perfectly well for roughly 99 percent of whatever each day might present.
With violent, traumatic pasts erased, they’re all quite normal, up until the point when everything starts to fall apart in a fairly spectacular fashion…
Disclosure: I received a copy from the publisher for the purpose of review. This post contains affiliate links.