Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Author: Karin Slaughter
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Copyright Year: 2015
Review By: Ruth Wykes
Book Synopsis:
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.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

If I wanted to introduce a new reader to this genre I would hand them Pretty Girls and tell them it doesn’t get much better than this. In the same way, if you’ve never read Karin Slaughter, this is the one to read. A word of warning: if your taste runs closer to Miss Marple than Val McDermid you may find Pretty Girls too confronting

It is a story about a family: mum, dad and three daughters. The eldest, Julia, went missing almost twenty years ago, and that disappearance has haunted the family for years. Now another young woman has disappeared, and there seems to be a link with Julia. Sound like something you’ve read before? Don’t be fooled. This plot is complex, elegantly woven and written with a skill that left me in awe.

Karin Slaughter deals with some of the most discomforting issues in society in Pretty Girls: abduction, bondage, torture, murder and snuff movies. Those themes get in your face at different points in the telling of this story. Yet the glue that makes this story work so well, and that left me emotionally exhausted was her portrayal of a family torn apart by pain. Slaughter switches point of view throughout the story, and each voice is authentic.

I cannot find words to say how much I loved Pretty Girls. At the end of the book I wanted to cry, to get on my feet and give her a standing ovation. This is one of the best crime novels I have read in years.