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The Blinds by Adam Sternbergh

The Blinds

by Adam Sternbergh

Quick take

"Seamlessly mixes the western and thriller genres, crafting a tense and unsettling read that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy."


For fans of Cormac McCarthy, Jim Thompson, the Coen Brothers, and Lost.

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. What’s clear to them is that if they 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, aching heartbreak and dark betrayals.

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Why I love it

I have to admit something: Several times in the last few months I’ve wanted to snap my laptop shut and throw it across a room. I have yelled at my television and deleted social media apps from my phone. And I’ve often thought, "It would be really nice to get away from everything, disconnect from the world, live a quiet life in the middle of nowhere, and forget about it all."

Reading The Blinds, however, snapped me out of it even as it provided a satisfying escape. The title refers to a remote, off the grid town in the middle of Texas—a place named Caesura, a small village the locals call "the Blinds." No one is really a local, per se; everyone who lives in Caesura came there from someplace else, although their origins are unknown. Their identities have been swiped from their brains in a very Eternal Sunshine fashion—not because they were hoping to escape some sort of heartbreak, however, but because they are trying to escape violence in their past.

The people who live in the Blinds have new identities and choose brand new names by combining the names of Hollywood actors and vice presidents: So for instance, Greta Fillmore runs the local bar, Spiro Mitchum keeps the store fully stocked, and Calvin Cooper patrols as town sheriff. The residents of Caesura are hiding from themselves, too—some are former criminals, while others (they hope) are innocents mixed up in bad business and in need of a new life and new identity'”witness protection at its most extreme.

This experimental sanctuary—not quite utopia or dystopia—starts to crack when one of the residents is discovered dead from an apparent suicide. Weeks later, another man ends up dead, and it’s up to Sheriff Cooper to keep the townspeople calm and to put the pieces of the puzzle together. With a twist at every turn, the peaceful community starts to reveal a troubling darkness hidden beneath its rocky, dusty surface. It’s not long before the town erupts into violent chaos, a staggering conclusion that comes at you as fast as a freight train.

With The Blinds, Adam Sternbergh seamlessly mixes the western and thriller genres, crafting a tense and unsettling read that brings to mind Cormac McCarthy and the truly weird work of Shirley Jackson. But The Blinds isn’t just homage—Sternbergh is a master all his own. This cast of characters imprisoned by their forgotten identities is enough to make you appreciate knowing exactly who you are, and where. Even if the world around you can be maddening, at least it’s familiar.

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Member ratings (6,280)

  • Miscelleana T.

    Holbrook, NY

    I’m not one for reading & not stopping for fear of a book being over too quickly, but the brilliantly fast pacing of this book makes it perfect for binge reading. More twists & more turns as it goes.

  • Sereniti G.

    Safford, AZ

    This book had a few slow parts, but had enough mystery to keep me intrigued. I loved not knowing where this book was going. I liked how many different points of view there were and the ending was good

  • Erin F.

    Sierra Madre, CA

    I couldn't put this book down. The innumerable twists and turns kept me hooked! I found myself wishing that it would be made into a HBO show so I could actually see the characters and their adventures

  • Faith G.

    Arvada, CO

    What memories would you erase if you could? Do our memories make us who we are? What decisions would you make if you didn't know your history? Really enjoyed this book and the questions it provoked.

  • Anna K.

    Clawson, MI

    I loved this book so much. It was one i wouldn't normally choose and I'm so happy i did. It's a story that makes you gasp in shock. It left me with so many questions, in a good way. Kept my attention.