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.
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September 29, 2003
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Excerpt from Kisscut by Karin Slaughter
"DANCING QUEEN," Sara Linton mumbled with the music as she made her way around the skating rink. "Young and sweet, only seventeen."
She heard a furious clicking of wheels to her left and turned just in time to catch a small child before he crashed into her.
"Justin?" she asked, recognizing the seven year old. She held him up by the back of his shirt as his ankles wobbled over his in-line skates.
"Hey, Dr. Linton," Justin managed around gasps for breath. His helmet was too big for his head, and he pushed it back several times as he tried to look up at her.
Sara returned his smile, trying not to laugh. "Hello, Justin."
"I guess you like this music, huh? My mom likes it, too." He stared at her openly, his lips slightly parted. Like most of Sara's patients, Justin seemed a bit shocked to see her outside of the clinic. Sometimes she wondered if they thought she lived in the basement there, waiting for them to get colds or fevers so she could see them.
"Anyway," Justin pushed back his helmet again, knocking himself in the nose with his elbow pad. "I saw you singing it."
"Here," Sara offered, leaning down to adjust the chin strap. The music in the rink was so loud that Sara could feel the bass vibrating through the plastic buckle as she tightened it under his chin.
"Thanks," Justin yelled, then for some reason he put both his hands on top of the helmet, as if to rest them. The motion threw him off balance, and he stumbled, clamping on to Sara's leg.
Sara grabbed his shirt again and led them both over to the safety railing lining the rink. After trying on a pair of in-line skates herself, Sara had asked for the old four-wheel kind, not wanting to fall on her ass in front of half the town.