Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Published by HarperCollins on September 29, 2015
Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.
More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia´s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more difficult. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss – a devastating wound that´s cruelly ripped open when Claire´s husband is killed. The disappearance of a t teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago … and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.
But, at least in my eyes, an author may have from time to time a book that doesn´t really fit my expectations.
It happened to me with other high-class authors, so why not with Karin Slaughter too?
Claire is devastated. Right before her eyes her husband got brutally stabbed to death, and on her way, to the funeral feast, she learns that someone broke into her home and that the FBI is very interested in her husband. But why? All that happens makes no sense to Claire. Not the weird questions the FBI has and not that one agent seems kind of obsessed with her husband’s life. Everything changes when she discovers a terrible video on her husband’s computer and she has to learn that there will be no help from the police. All she hears are lies and false information. And when she starts to dig deeper she not only solves the mysterious disappearance of her elder sister but also has to face that her own life is one big lie.
No doubt, Karin Slaughter has a great talent to bring a psychological aspect into a story. Her tone is a bit ironic, during some pages very sarcastic and it was a real surprise and very unfamiliar for me to see how restrained she was in this thriller.
The story gets told over to lines of actions. You have on one side the diary entries written in the first-person perspective from the father of the missing Julia Carroll – they show what happened with the family, especially with the father after his daughter disappeared. And there is the present plot told in the personal narrative perspective by Claire, the youngest of the three Carroll-girls. It is anything but nice to see how the Carroll family changed after their eldest girl went missing. One daughter lives a life in luxury and doesn´t realize how lonely she is. The other has built up her own existence with difficulty and necessity and got herself practically back to life from the oblique orbit.
Karin Slaughter, that credit I give her, brought the psychological finesse really good into the story. But don´t expect some shocking moments or surprises for which the author is famous for– there are none. Instead, you will find a lot of details which give the thriller an incredible stretch. You will see a lot of things you probably not really interested in and the voltage arc is an up and down all the way to the end. All those things I usually don´t connect with the name Karin Slaughter.
Usually, the word cliché and Karin Slaughter are not on the same line. In Pretty Girls she proofs otherwise and that astonished me – because I don´t know her like that. Yes, she created some nice characters, and yes they all have their share of burden, but they are all too predictable.
There is the rich and shiny self-made man with the dark side, a mother who destroys with her lies not only her left family but also her two other daughters. There is a girl that does everything to become invisible for the rest of the world and brings it to real perfection at that and then there is the one daughter who lets drugs rule her life. And if that wouldn´t be enough of the drama, the father doesn´t stop searching for his eldest daughter. He discovers the truth, but unfortunately, he can´t tell his family, because they wouldn´t believe him. So the drama continues …
When Claire learns the truth about her husband, about her eldest sister’s destiny and her lifestyle, the shock forces her literally to her knees. Now she can´t pretend anymore what really happened. Facing a bitter truth isn´t easy, but standing up to it and facing reality is even harder.
No question, there is a certain kind of psychological finesse in this thriller. And it is no question either, that many scenes are really, really good. But if you are expecting a typical Karin Slaughter thriller, as you know her from her other series, then think again - ´cause you won´t find it. Sad, but it couldn´t match my high expectations.
Cover of the German edition by Harper Collins Germany December 7, 2015
Karin Slaughter, born 1971, is from Atlanta, Georgia. In 2003 her debut novel Belladonna was published and went straight to the top of the international bestselling lists and catapulted her onto the Thriller-Olympus. She is the # internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestselling standalones, Cop Town and Pretty Girls. There are more than 35 million copies of her books in print around the world.