A Faint Cold Fear
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"A Faint Cold Fear" Characters Analysis

By Karin Slaughter

mystery | 422 pages | Published in NaN

The third pulse-pounding novel in the Grant County series from New York Times bestselling author Karin Slaughter.Sara Linton, medical examiner in the small town of Heartsdale, Georgia, is called out to an apparent suicide on the local college campus. The mutilated body provides little in the way of clues -- and the college authorities are eager to avoid a scandal -- but for Sara and police chief Jeffrey Tolliver, things don't add up.Two more suspicious suicides follow, and a young woman is brutally attacked. For Sara, the violence strikes far too close to home. And as Jeffrey pursues the sadistic killer, he discovers that ex-police detective Lena Adams, now a security guard on campus, may be in possession of crucial information. But, bruised and angered by her expulsion from the force, Lena seems to be barely capable of protecting herself, let alone saving the next victim...


Estimated read time: 12 min read

List of Characters

Sara LintonMedical examiner
Jeffrey TolliverPolice chief
Lena AdamsDetective
Frank WallaceSheriff
Hank LawsonDeputy
Ethan GreenMedical intern
Angie PolaskiCrime scene investigator
Jared MurphySuspect
Sara's ParentsFamily members
Leslie AdamsLena's sister
Kevin MitchellVictim
Tommy BrahamSuspect
Jennifer CarvilleVictim

Role Identification

In "A Faint Cold Fear" by Karin Slaughter, the characters play various roles that contribute to the development of the plot.

Sara Linton, the medical examiner, becomes entangled in a series of murders that challenge her professional expertise and personal relationships. Jeffrey Tolliver, the police chief and Sara's ex-husband, investigates the crimes while navigating his complicated feelings for Sara. Lena Adams, a troubled detective, struggles with her own demons as she assists in solving the case. Frank Wallace, the sheriff, leads the law enforcement team, while Hank Lawson, a deputy, provides support. Ethan Green, a medical intern, assists Sara in the autopsy room, and Angie Polaski, a crime scene investigator, gathers evidence. Other characters, such as Jared Murphy, Sara's parents, Leslie Adams, Kevin Mitchell, Tommy Braham, and Jennifer Carville, also play significant roles in the story.

Character Descriptions

Sara Linton: Sara is a dedicated medical examiner with a strong sense of justice. She is determined and compassionate, often placing the needs of others before her own. Sara is described as having a petite frame, with short brown hair and piercing blue eyes.

Jeffrey Tolliver: Jeffrey is a seasoned police chief who carries the weight of his position on his shoulders. He is protective of Sara and remains conflicted about their past relationship. Jeffrey has a tall and athletic build, with graying hair and a serious demeanor.

Lena Adams: Lena is a complex character with a troubled past. She is a skilled detective but struggles with addiction and emotional instability. Lena is portrayed as a tough and resilient woman, with short black hair and a hardened expression.

Frank Wallace: Frank is the sheriff of the town and provides steady leadership to the law enforcement team. He is respected by his colleagues and is committed to solving the crimes. Frank is described as a middle-aged man, with a stocky build and a no-nonsense attitude.

Hank Lawson: Hank is a loyal and dependable deputy who supports the investigation. He is known for his resourcefulness and dedication to his job. Hank has a rugged appearance, with a strong build and a friendly smile.

Ethan Green: Ethan is a medical intern working under Sara's supervision. He is eager to learn and proves to be a valuable asset in the autopsy room. Ethan is portrayed as a young and enthusiastic individual, with glasses and a slightly nervous demeanor.

Angie Polaski: Angie is a skilled crime scene investigator who meticulously collects and analyzes evidence. She is detail-oriented and plays a crucial role in solving the crimes. Angie has long, curly brown hair and an intense gaze.

Jared Murphy: Jared is a suspect in the murders and becomes a focal point of the investigation. He is initially portrayed as an enigmatic and potentially dangerous individual.

Sara's Parents: Sara's parents provide emotional support and guidance throughout the story. They are portrayed as loving and caring individuals who worry about their daughter's safety.

Leslie Adams: Leslie is Lena's sister and serves as a source of emotional turmoil for Lena. She struggles with her own issues and adds complexity to Lena's character development.

Kevin Mitchell: Kevin is a victim whose murder sets off the chain of events in the story. His death is a catalyst for the investigation and introduces the dark underbelly of the town.

Tommy Braham: Tommy is another suspect in the murders, and his involvement adds twists and turns to the plot. He is portrayed as a mysterious and unpredictable individual.

Jennifer Carville: Jennifer is another victim whose murder further escalates the tension and urgency of the investigation. Her death reveals deeper connections and motives behind the crimes.

Character Traits

Sara Linton: Dedicated, compassionate, determined, selfless.

Jeffrey Tolliver: Protective, conflicted, experienced, serious.

Lena Adams: Troubled, skilled, resilient, unstable.

Frank Wallace: Steady, respected, committed, no-nonsense.

Hank Lawson: Loyal, dependable, resourceful, friendly.

Ethan Green: Eager, valuable, enthusiastic, nervous.

Angie Polaski: Meticulous, detail-oriented, skilled, intense.

Jared Murphy: Enigmatic, potentially dangerous.

Sara's Parents: Loving, caring, supportive.

Leslie Adams: Turmoil-inducing, complex.

Kevin Mitchell: Victim, catalyst.

Tommy Braham: Mysterious, unpredictable.

Jennifer Carville: Victim, revealing.

Character Background

Sara Linton: Sara grew up in the town where the story takes place and has a deep connection to the community. She pursued a career in medicine to serve others, but her personal life has been marked by tragedy and loss.

Jeffrey Tolliver: Jeffrey also has a long history in the town and has worked his way up to become the police chief. He has a complicated relationship with Sara, which adds emotional depth to his character.

Lena Adams: Lena comes from a troubled background, having experienced trauma and addiction. She joined the police force to overcome her past but still struggles to find stability and peace.

Frank Wallace: Frank has served as the sheriff for several years and has a reputation for being tough but fair. He has deep ties to the community and is committed to keeping it safe.

Hank Lawson: Hank is a dedicated deputy who has earned the respect of his colleagues through his hard work and reliability. He is a reliable and trustworthy member of the team.

Ethan Green: Ethan recently joined the medical examiner's office as an intern and is eager to learn from Sara. He brings youthful enthusiasm to the team but also faces the challenges of being new to the field.

Angie Polaski: Angie has a background in forensic science and has worked her way up to become a skilled crime scene investigator. She has a meticulous and detail-oriented approach to her work.

Jared Murphy: Jared's background is initially shrouded in mystery, and his motives and past unfold throughout the story. He becomes a central figure in the investigation and adds layers of intrigue.

Sara's Parents: Sara's parents are loving and supportive individuals who have always been there for her. They have witnessed the challenges she has faced and provide emotional stability in her life.

Leslie Adams: Leslie is Lena's sister and has had her own share of personal struggles. Her presence adds complexity to Lena's character and showcases the impact of family dynamics.

Kevin Mitchell: Kevin is a victim whose background and connections become significant in unraveling the mysteries behind the murders.

Tommy Braham: Tommy's background is clouded by secrets, and his involvement in the crimes adds suspense and unpredictability to the story.

Jennifer Carville: Jennifer's background and connection to the other characters reveal hidden motives and dark secrets within the town.

Character Arcs

Sara Linton: Throughout the story, Sara's character arc revolves around her professional and personal growth. As she delves deeper into the investigation, she faces challenges that test her skills and resilience. Sara's past experiences and relationships with Jeffrey and Lena influence her decisions and emotions, leading to a transformative journey.

Jeffrey Tolliver: Jeffrey's character arc centers around his conflicted feelings for Sara and his determination to solve the case. He must navigate the complexities of his past relationship with Sara while maintaining professionalism as the police chief. Jeffrey's arc also explores his leadership skills and the sacrifices he is willing to make for justice.

Lena Adams: Lena's character arc revolves around her personal demons and struggles with addiction. As the investigation unfolds, Lena is forced to confront her past trauma and make choices that impact her future. Her arc showcases her resilience and growth as she fights to overcome her inner demons.

Frank Wallace: Frank's character arc emphasizes his role as the steady leader of the law enforcement team. He faces challenges in maintaining order and solving the crimes, showcasing his ability to adapt and make tough decisions. Frank's arc also explores his relationships with the other characters and the impact of the investigation on his role as sheriff.

Hank Lawson: Hank's character arc showcases his loyalty and dedication to the team. As the investigation progresses, he becomes more involved in the critical aspects of the case, highlighting his resourcefulness and value as a deputy. Hank's arc also explores his relationships with the other characters and his growth as a law enforcement professional.

Ethan Green: Ethan's character arc revolves around his growth as a medical intern and his increasing confidence in his abilities. As he works closely with Sara, he learns valuable skills and gains experience in the field. Ethan's arc also explores his interactions with the other characters and the impact of the investigation on his professional development.

Angie Polaski: Angie's character arc focuses on her meticulous approach to crime scene investigation and her determination to find the truth. As the investigation unfolds, she uncovers crucial evidence that contributes to solving the case. Angie's arc also explores her relationships with the other characters and the challenges she faces as a woman in a male-dominated field.

Jared Murphy: Jared's character arc is shrouded in mystery, and as the story progresses, his background and motives are revealed. His arc adds suspense and unpredictability to the narrative, as his actions impact the lives of the other characters.

Sara's Parents: While not central to the main plot, Sara's parents provide a sense of stability and support. Their character arc emphasizes their unwavering love for their daughter and their role as a source of emotional strength.

Leslie Adams: Leslie's character arc explores her complex relationship with Lena and the impact of their shared past. Her presence adds layers of emotional turmoil and showcases the influence of family dynamics on Lena's character development.

Kevin Mitchell: Kevin's character arc is cut short by his untimely death, but his background and connections become crucial in unraveling the mysteries behind the murders.

Tommy Braham: Tommy's character arc unfolds as his involvement in the crimes is revealed. His mysterious background and actions add suspense and tension to the story.

Jennifer Carville: Jennifer's character arc is tied to the secrets and connections she has with the other characters. Her murder unravels hidden motives and dark secrets within the town.


The relationships between the characters in "A Faint Cold Fear" play a significant role in the development of the plot and the exploration of their individual arcs.

Sara Linton and Jeffrey Tolliver: Sara and Jeffrey's complex relationship is a central theme in the book. Their shared past and lingering feelings for each other create tension and emotional turmoil, affecting their decisions and actions throughout the investigation.

Sara Linton and Lena Adams: Sara and Lena's relationship is a mix of professional collaboration and personal connection. They share a deep understanding of the challenges they face in their respective roles and provide support to each other in times of crisis.

Jeffrey Tolliver and Lena Adams: Jeffrey's role as Lena's superior and mentor adds a layer of complexity to their relationship. He is invested in her well-being and often finds himself torn between professional expectations and personal concern.

Frank Wallace and the Law Enforcement Team: Frank's leadership and the relationships he maintains with Hank, Angie, and other members of the team are crucial in establishing a united front against the challenges they face in solving the crimes.

Sara Linton and Ethan Green: Sara's mentorship of Ethan creates a bond between them as they navigate the intricacies of the autopsy room. Their professional relationship also allows for personal growth and mutual support.

Lena Adams and Leslie Adams: Lena's strained relationship with her sister, Leslie, adds emotional depth to her character. The dynamics between them reveal the impact of family history and personal choices on their individual paths.

Jared Murphy and the Other Characters: Jared's mysterious presence and interactions with the other characters create a web of suspicion and uncertainty. His relationships with Sara, Jeffrey, and Lena are particularly significant in unraveling the truth behind the murders.

Sara's Parents and Sara: Sara's parents provide emotional support and a sense of stability in her life. Their relationship showcases the strength of family bonds and the impact they can have on an individual's sense of self.

Kevin Mitchell and Jennifer Carville: The relationship between Kevin and Jennifer, as victims of the crimes, plays a crucial role in uncovering the motives and connections that drive the plot forward.

The intertwining relationships among the characters contribute to the intricate web of the story, adding depth and emotional resonance to the narrative.