Saturday, October 3, 2015

Pretty Girls

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
HarperCollins: 9/29/15
eBook review copy, 416 pages
ISBN-13: 9780062429056

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter is a very highly recommended thriller. This nail-biter is tense, gritty, and very disturbing. Oh, and just when you think you know what is going to happen, trust me, you don't.

In 1991 nineteen year old Julia Carroll vanished and her disappearance changed the dynamics of her surviving family members. Sam, her father and a veterinarian, writes journal entries addressing his missing daughter and the lengths he takes to search for her. Helen, her mother and a librarian, divorces Sam, and starts drinking. Her two sisters, Claire and Lydia, have been estranged for years and still miss their older sister.

Claire is married to Atlanta architect and millionaire Paul Scott. Because of Paul's influence and connections, Claire has gotten off with a light punishment for an incident on the tennis court. When the couple meets for a night out after her ankle bracelet is removed, the couple is robbed and Paul is fatally stabbed. Then, right after the funeral, Claire returns home to a yard full of police because her home was broken into. Then, while trying to find the computer files Paul's partner needs for a meeting, Claire stumbles onto some horrific videos. And then some meticulous files that Paul has kept.

Lydia Delgado was the bad girl years ago, when Julia was live, and her life continued to spiral downward until she was going to have her child and had to clean up her act. Now clean and sober, she is the single mother to a teenage daughter, Dee, and in a relationship with Rick, her neighbor, mechanic, and also now clean, sober and law-abiding. Before she had Dee, Paul, Claire's husband tried to rape her. Claire chose to believe Paul, which caused the estrangement.

The two meet again when current circumstances have sent Claire to try and find her remaining sister. She now believes that Lydia may have been telling the truth. The two still share a bond between them, but don't totally trust each other. They are also forced to face some very chilling, horrific facts that may lead them to finding the answer to the question of what happened to Julia, as well as other missing girls.

Slaughter alternates each chapter between the sister's point of view and Sam's journal entries. She keeps the pace very steady and the tension ratchets up with each new piece of information. I thought I had the plot all figured out just before the half way point in this novel. I was totally wrong. Suddenly I was left  with my mouth hanging open and my heart racing. Then the novel really took off and the tension was intense.

The writing is excellent and the characters are all well developed. There are a few details that you will likely have to stretch you incredulity over, but I thought it was easy to accept the information as fact and get on with the story. This novel is not for the meek. It is at times gruesome, horrific, maddening, and disturbing. There is language. But it is also a very, very good thriller that will keep you up late at nights reading - with the lights on and the windows and doors all locked.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of HarperCollins for review purposes.

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