The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh

the blinds

I really liked the sound of The Blinds when I first heard about it, and now that I’ve (finally!) read it, I wish that I’d done so earlier!

Imagine a place populated by criminals – people plucked from their lives, with their memories altered, who’ve been granted new identities and a second chance.  Welcome to The Blinds, a dusty town in rural Texas populated by misfits who don’t know if they’ve perpetrated a crime or just witnessed one.  All they do know is that they opted into the programme and that if they try to leave, they will end up dead.

For eight years, Sheriff Calvin Cooper has kept an uneasy peace – but after a suicide and a murder in quick succession, the town’s residents revolt.  Cooper has his own secrets to protect, so when his new deputy starts digging, he needs to keep one step ahead of her – and the mysterious outsiders who threaten to tear the whole place down.  The more he learns, the more the hard truth is revealed: The Blinds is no sleepy hideaway, it’s simmering with violence and deception, heartbreak and betrayal, and it’s fit to burst.

I thought that the concept behind The Blinds was absolutely fascinating, and if it’s a little difficult to grasp the full extent of what is going on in Caesura (commonly referred to as The Blinds) at first then it’s worth persevering with as it all becomes clear before long.  Caesura – population (approximately) 48 – is a small town in rural Texas that is largely unknown to the outside world.  Here, people who have committed a crime, or who have been witness to a crime, can come to live under a new identity with no memory of why they are there.  They don’t even know which of these categories they fall into.  Whilst it’s not marketed as such, I thought that The Blinds had a distinctly dystopian air about it, and I thought that the underlying premise was brilliant.

The Blinds opens with a murder of one of the residents of Caesura.  Given its isolation and the fact that very few people know if its existence, it seems fairly certain that the murderer must be one of the residents.  And there are plenty of suspects, given the nature of the population.  Whilst this is an interesting part of the story, I don’t think that the whodunnit was the sole focus of the novel, and those approaching it purely as a mystery may be a little disappointed, although we do find out the who / what / when / where / why of the murder, and it wasn’t who I expected it to be.  Set over the course of a single week, the pace moves along quickly, and the plot took a few unexpected turns throughout, keeping me on my toes.

I think that the idea of removing specific memories from people is an interesting one, and one that has huge potential should we develop the science to do this.  The Blinds poses some interesting ethical questions, although it doesn’t really seek to answer them, and I’m left considering whether the perpetrators of violent crime deserve a completely fresh start under a new identity where no one knows of their past (mis)deeds.  I love books that make me think like this, and I think that this would be a great novel for a book club discussion.

Combining mystery, a touch of sci fi, and some great storytelling, I thoroughly enjoyed The Blinds.  Highly recommended.

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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3 thoughts on “The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh

  1. This book! The first time i saw the cover i knew it will be something right up my alley.
    The story sounds fascinating! Takes “small town setting” to a whole new level.

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