The Blinds is binge-able. It has the same addictive quality that the best TV shows have these days, along with a big cast of characters and a killer premise. I listened to the audio version, but if I’d gone with print I would have snarfed it in a few hours. Love books that don’t feel like a retread of old ground? Well, I can guarantee you you haven’t already read a book like this.
Well, in some ways maybe you have. The Blinds is instantly recognizable as a Western. There’s a jaded lawman, some lowlifes and criminals, a fight to protect territory from outsiders, and several noble sacrifices for the greater good. There are even old-fashioned shootouts. But that’s where the similarities end. The Blinds is an isolated town in Texas where nobody knows their own past. All the residents have had a medical procedure to selectively erase their memories, either because they committed violent crimes or witnessed one. When they arrive in their new home, they each choose a new name from lists of movie stars and vice presidents. Then they settle into life with the other townspeople, never knowing what terrible acts lay behind them and never leaving the Blinds again. The sheriff, Calvin Cooper, likes to say that the gate only opens one way. Once you leave, you’re out for good, and the residents know nothing good is waiting for them out in the real world. The Blinds is safe, a refuge—until people start turning up dead, the first in an apparent suicide and the second in what is obviously not. It’s odd that two people have been shot in quick succession when no one is supposed to have access to a gun.
I love reading about people with secrets in their past, and The Blinds delivers a town full of them. I’d probably recommend the print version over the audio, not just because you’ll be able to get to all the answers faster, but because the male narrator used an affected, breathy voice for the female police officer, and not only was it annoying as hell, it didn’t fit her character at all. He also had an odd habit of shouting all the dialogue—literally raising his voice as if trying to speak to the farthest corner of a crowded room anytime a character was speaking. Despite those irritations, I was absolutely enthralled by The Blinds. I will be surprised if it doesn’t end up on my short list of favorites for the year.