If you are one of those readers who pages ahead to see what's gonna happen, do NOT do that with Karin Slaughter's latest tour-de-police-force, Beyond Reach. Seriously, the ending is such a surprise it left me momentarily speechless (and anyone who knows me can tell you what a rarity that is). Protagonists Sara Linton, the Grant County, Georgia, coroner, and her husband, Police Chief Jeffrey Tolliver, team up for their sixth adventure. Their on-again, off-again marriage is distinctly on-again, as the two pair up to help a fellow police officer suspected in the arson death of a woman in backwoods Georgia. The two are in fine form, by turns acerbic and nurturing, long-suffering yet ultimately supportive. From a medical-examiner procedural aspect, Slaughter's novels are as gripping as anything from Kathy Reichs or the early Patricia Cornwell, and when she gets into the intricacies of relationships she hits the ball right out of the park. Additionally, there's enough gruesome medical detail to make genre junkies line up for the next installment. Just remember: no peeking!

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