You’re in safe hands with this author – he can definitely drag you on a tense and unpredictable adventure, hanging off the edge of an outlandish concept. As with his earlier book, Shovel Ready, this novel hinges on a nifty notion but here the story feels like it came second to the scenario. The Blinds is a self-contained open prison for innocents and criminals alike, otherwise condemned to a short life in a witness protection scheme. In The Blinds, they’ve had their memories selectively removed, freeing them from any past misdemeanours and possibly releasing them from the demons which drove their worst behaviours as hitmen, killers and sociopaths.
Or possibly not, because when we join the story, two violent deaths have occurred; the first in eight years. Something’s afoot, and it’s up to the semi-detached sheriff to find out what.
Although Sternbergh writes cracking prose and has set up an engaging situation, once the plot starts unfurling it struggles to live up to the promise of the premise. Even so, there’s a couple of memorable characters (both of them killers, almost inevitably, and their showdown is especially rewarding). But the final revelation was obvious from a country mile away, and the resolution seemed a mite unlikely.
More frustratingly, Sternbergh bailed out on the central conundrum: if you’d lived an honest life for several years, as a new individual without the emotional angst which provoked previous deeds (be they everso awful), then surely you’d feel no responsibility for what ‘Previous Person’ actually did. Do we, as adults, feel responsibility for our actions as children? This debate seemed to be rather shortchanged to me – and it was, after all, the whole point of the story…
Even so, The Blinds is a thoroughly enjoyable read.
Reviewed by Rowena Hoseason
The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh is available at Amazon
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