Monday, September 28, 2015

Review: Pretty Girls

Summary: 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 different. 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 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. -- William Morrow

Karin Slaughter has done it again in PRETTY GIRLS! It's not surprising that she's managed to write a compelling story with memorable characters -- she's kind of established herself as "that kind" of author. However, I was blown away by this novel. The storyline is incredibly dark and the tension is palpable throughout the entire novel. It's really a very well written book that takes readers on an amazing ride!

PRETTY GIRLS tells the story of Claire and Lydia, two sisters whose lives have grown apart after their teenaged sister Julia disappeared over twenty years ago. Both women are still reeling from he loss and the devastating effect it had on their family. Claire is married to a successful architect and living a life of the wealthy. Lydia, on the other hand, is a single mother who dates a mechanic (who also happens to be an ex-con) and a recovering drug addict.

The book begins when Claire's wealthy husband is brutally attacked and murdered right in front of Claire. In the days following his death, Claire makes a shocking discovery -- her husband had porn on his computer, and it wasn't just your everyday porn. It was violent porn where the victim appeared to be murdered... and the film looked real.

In addition to the startling discovery about her husband, Claire is also being pressured to turn over information to her husband's business partner. The police aren't willing to help or seem suspicious, and Claire doesn't know what to do or where to turn. She eventually turns to her estranged sister Lydia for help. Little did Lydia know what she was getting herself into!

PRETTY GIRLS is a special book for fans of suspense stories. The story is fast-paced and action-packed and definitely has it's fair share of twists and turns. However, it also delves deeply into the dynamics of a damaged family. The author managed to accomplish all of these things in a terrific novel!

I mentioned early on that PRETTY GIRLS is a dark book and that's pretty much an understatement. This book provides some pretty disturbing scenes in the crimes being committed, but it also delves into the dysfunction of a deeply troubled family. And in many ways, those scenes were as dark or darker than the horrific crime ones. The twists and surprising plot reveals were crazy... crazy good that is. And I'm torn whether I appreciated the mystery aspects of the story or those dealing with the sisters' relationship.

For purposes of this review, I'm going to explore how well Ms. Slaughter portrayed Claire and Lydia's relationship... or lack thereof. These women had so much baggage after the disappearance of their sister. Like many families, the parents' marriage fell apart. Their father was driven to find out what happened to his daughter and eventually ended up committing suicide. The girls went their separate ways and chose to live very different lives. They had little in common and could barely speak civilly to each other.

So when Claire was at wit's end and didn't know whom to trust, she asked Lydia for help. It wasn't easy for either woman and there were definitely some trust issues that had to be worked through. Those issues would be difficult enough for the sisters, but given the incredible circumstances they were immediately thrown into, they had no choice but to depend on each other. Both women had to find strength that they didn't even realize they had.

PRETTY GIRLS had so many secrets and the way they were revealed was perfect. There were times when I could see how the story was progressing, and I almost couldn't continue reading because it was so dark. And then, I couldn't stop reading because I was so caught up in the story and needed answers. I hope I've conveyed just how much of a master Ms. Slaughter is!

Ms. Slaughter does appear to be getting better and better. PRETTY GIRLS is a truly entertaining book that plays with your mind and your heart. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books t


bermudaonion said...

I tried one of her books on audio and the narrator drove me crazy with her fake southern accents and mispronunciations. I need to try one in print - I'm sure I'll like it even more.

Dorothy N said...

I love Karin Slaughter and I am so excited for this new, stand-alone book! Thanks for your wonderful review: informative and well-written, as always!

Kelly said...

Huh, I always thought Karin Slaughter was one of those "romantic suspense" authors...which drive me crazy, all the convenient coincidences which allow the taciturn steely eyed hero to conflict with the spunky heroine....blech...! I think I was wrong! It sounds like she's just a good mystery/suspense authors. I'm going to have to check this book out, I may have another author to read!!