#20 Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

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.

Paperback | 533 pages
Publisher: Cornerstone Digital (2nd July 2015)

It was about time I dipped my toes into Karin Slaughter again. I got this book for Christmas, and I thought with today (29.3.20) being so gloomy and rainy, that it was the perfect time to read. I also didn’t wake till 11:30am because I’d been awake continuously during the night (insomnia) and needed to do something that would engage my brain and wake me up. From the first couple of chapters, I knew this book was going to be intense and filled with details (for the record…I wasn’t wrong.)

There is so much I could unpick in this section (I’ve been very careful not to give away any spoilers or hints). There is also so much I want to know about Slaughter’s process for writing.

Claire, Lydia, Paul. At the beginning of the story, I didn’t know where all the pieces slotted in. I didn’t even have a feeling that anything was connected and I viewed the characters as the separate entities they were presented to me as. It made me feel like I got to learn about the characters more before the story thrust them together, and it made me feel like I knew them a little better, when really I didn’t know them at all.

There was so much to Claire’s character. I felt that she kept me guessing a lot. Every time I thought I had sussed her out, she did something more that surprised me or made me uncertain about her character. She played her part very well, kept me focused on things that seemed important but which was actually unnecessary. She surprised me the most, I feel like her character had the most to prove, like she had the biggest climb back to the end of the story. I know there are parts of her character that I still haven’t seen and areas for her to move around in that would still shock and surprise me. She was complex but in a way that I found really curious and she was the character that I stood besides the most while reading.

At the beginning of the book I didn’t understand the importance of Lydia. I didn’t see any connection to her and the other characters and the first chapter from her P.O.V. really threw me for a loop and disconnected me from what I was reading. It was surprising really, how quickly I fell behind her character. She had all the traits of someone who had reached rock bottom but done the unthinkable and climbed back out and I found her strength and her determination very inspiring. She was as complex as Claire but it a different way. I am not sure how to explain it other than them being two halves of the same coin. Perfectly balanced together but fiery spirits alone.

Lydia had less to prove but more to fight for and her emotional baggage was a lot dearer and harder to overcome. The cracks of her character were, at times, overwhelming, but I am glad I stuck with the story and managed to see it through to the ending. Lydia’s character was one I felt deserved to be read to the end.

Last of the three main players is Paul. Paul instilled a lot of feelings in me while I read and not all of them are ones I wanted to explore. Rare does a character lead me on such a merry dance or introduce me to a darkness I was unaccustomed to. I think Paul’s character was devious and superbly written. His character is much of the reason why I’d love to know Slaughter’s thought process. There was a level of detail in his character which I think is often missing from other books with characters like him.

Paul became the linchpin in the story for me. The sun that the plot revolved around. It was not with curiosity that I read his character, nor with a sense of urgency or determination. I just needed to see where the story headed. I needed to read to the end to get a full understanding of Paul, Lydia, and Claire, and to understand why the books story had played out the way it had.

I sometimes wish my imagination wasn’t as vivid as it was. I have spent the last hour listening to happy music and filling my mind with positive and bright images. Quite often, books that have a lingering image turn my dreams to nightmare – which can lead me to sleepwalking – and that’s something I want to avoid!

I had no difficulty visualising this. There were so many details to work on between the characters and the scenes. This book demands full attention, it seems impolite to read without a clear visualisation and that’s what my brain gave me.

So many. I told my Mum not to read this book. She wouldn’t like it. It goes into areas that are a BIG no for her. I had to take many breaks while reading it. I needed to step back into reality instead of move away from it.

The book was like a dark cloud that absorbed me and carried me away. It was an intense book. Part of me wanted to stop reading but I had made up my mind that the book deserved to be read and that the characters deserved someone to read their ending. This book made me feel a lot of things and it was also a book that made me think a lot.

You know I enjoy books that make me think, but this book pushed me to think about things I don’t think I was necessarily prepared to think about. It was more graphic than I was expecting and there were two points where I actually felt bile rising up my throat while reading – that’s NEVER happened to me before.

However, as much as this book waged war with my emotions and my body, I couldn’t help but enjoy it on some level. It is a book that completely suffocates you in the moment as you read. It’s quite clever really, as the book has the dual affect of making you want to read and making you want to stop. For a while after, I almost felt guilty for enjoying the book because of how unsettled the plot made me feel.

I still have 3 Karin Slaughter books on my shelf…I look at them with slight trepidation now, but, I am kind of excited to read the stories inside the pages.

I know I enjoyed this because it’s a book I placed on my shelf instead of pulling in the bag for the charity shop. This book was great at pulling the reader in. The characters were superb in hoodwinking and confusing me. The level of backstory to the plot was elegant and detailed. All the elements were strong and held the book together and gave me an experience of reading that I won’t forget in a while. I’m still a little torn about this book because some of the subject matter I found very hard to digest, but I can’t deny that this book isn’t good. It’s a great representation of a first class thriller and I can’t quite wait to read more of Slaughter’s work.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. Great review! I’ve been wanting to read Slaughter’s books for a long time, and admittedly sometimes I’m in the mood for dark and intense reads. I might start with this then. 🙂

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    1. hshattock29 says:

      It’s a good read. I only just took the plunge into Slaughter’s books, like you I’ve wanted to read them for a long time! They’re very gritty. I did enjoy this book, even though it was dark and intense

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! Sometimes I’m in the mood for dark and intense, and I’ve been eyeing Slaughter’s books for awhile, so I do look forward to picking this up. I’m sorry you found it difficult to digest, but I’m glad you still turned out to enjoy it overall. 🙂

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    1. hshattock29 says:

      It was more that it was unexpected. Like if I’d know the darkness was coming I would have been prepared for it but it kinda came out of nowhere and just threw me for a loop a little. I usually prefer dark gritty thrillers because it’s harder to guess the culprit and it makes my brain think outside the box

      Liked by 1 person

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