Book Review

Pretty Girls

Pretty Girls

  • Author: Karin Slaughter
  • Genre: Mystery/Thriller
  • Publication Date: September 29, 2015
  • Publisher: William Morrow

CONTENT WARNING: mention of animal abuse (off-page), violence, blood, death, addiction, rape, gore, torture

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

It’s been more than twenty years since Claire and Lydia last spoke. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire; Lydia, a single mother dating an ex-con, struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the disappearance of their sister Julia two decades earlier—and the shocking murder of Claire’s husband brings the horror and heartbreak of the past roaring back into their lives.

The vanishing of a teenage girl and the killing of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: What could connect them? As they form a wary truce, the surviving sisters unearth the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago … and find the astonishing truth where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable plot twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller to be read with white knuckles and a fast-beating heart.

At this point, I already know what I’m in for when I start a Karin Slaughter book — memorable characters, plot twists that catch me by surprise and make me gasp out loud, shocking crimes, and a story that is absolutely impossible to put down until I finish. So while I had other things to do while reading this book, none of them actually got done because I had to find out what happened.

In the beginning, we meet two very different women, who aren’t in touch with each other at all. Claire seemed kind of ditzy and vapid at first, although there were some aspects of her that made me very curious about her. And she really did grow on me as the story went on. I was impressed by how cunning and smart she was, underneath her trophy wife exterior. And Lydia was a character that I empathized with right from the start. She’s in recovery from addiction, and had a hard road to get to the point she’s at now, although she’s angry about a lot. It felt like her anger was justified, especially as the story went on.

“And honestly, the anguish of losing Claire was almost more overwhelming than losing Julia. Whatever had happened to her older sister had been a tragedy. Her rift with Claire had been a choice.”

When everything hits the fan, Claire is so used to relying on her husband for help that she isn’t sure what to do on her own, and calls her sister for the first time in over 20 years. Despite the complicated emotions that brings up for both of them, Lydia rushes over to help—and ends up getting involved in a huge mess. 

Interspersed with these two characters are some chapters from the POV of the girls’ father, journaling in the form of letters to his missing daughter. We get to see not only how he personally reacts, but the impact this had on the entire family. I thought it was really well done, since we get to see what happens after the crime, especially when a family doesn’t have any answers or resolution. It makes my heart break not just for this fictional family, but the real families out there who don’t know what happened to their loved ones.

The connections that were made between the characters and the situations, both past and present, kept me hooked right from the start. I was pulled into the story in the very first chapter, and could not put this book down at all. The plot twists kept coming, faster and faster at the end, like a snowball rolling down a mountain. There was no way I could put this book down, even reading on the way to and all through a medical appointment for someone I was there to support. Oops. 

There are some pretty serious trigger warnings for this book, as there are for all the Karin Slaughter books that I’ve read, but if you can handle them, this is a chilling and gripping page-turner that I recommend strongly. Although it makes me wonder what a dark place Karin Slaughter’s brain must be. 

People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.

Gasp Factor: 11

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