Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
Pretty Girls – 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 novel from one of the finest writers working today.
An Amazon Best Book of October 2015: Karin Slaughter’s new stand-alone novel grabs you from the start and doesn’t let go – even after you turn the final page. While taking a break from her popular Will Trent and Sara Linton series, but staying true to form, Slaughter presents readers with a new set of complex characters masterfully woven together in Pretty Girls, a psychological thriller about a family torn apart by (almost) unspeakable tragedy. From the mind-blowing character of Paul, to the sweet and sensitive perspective of Julia’s father, Slaughter leaves nothing left to be desired. There were more than a few times while reading Pretty Girls where I stopped myself, mid-page, taken aback – not just from the dark and twisted storyline unfolding before me, but also by the realization of how much I was loving every word. This book is certainly disturbing at times, shocking at others, and scary enough to have you checking over your shoulder while you read late into the night, unable to put it down. — Penny Mann
The author’s trademark of complex plots coupled with character studies makes Pretty Girls another standout. (Associated Press)
Stunning family…. Certain to be a book of the year. (Lee Child)
Slaughter’s eye for detail and truth is unmatched. . . . I’d follow her anywhere. (Gillian Flynn)
One of the boldest thriller writers working today. (Tess Gerritsen)
Her characters, plot, and pacing are unrivaled among thriller writers. (Michael Connelly)
Breathtaking…. Fiction doesn’t get any better than this. (Jeffery Deaver, New York Times-bestselling author of Solitude Creek and The Skin Collector)
Searing, searching, soulful: a major achievement. (Kathy Reichs, #1 New York Times-bestselling author of Speaking in Bones)
A hell-raising thriller…a genuinely exciting narrative driven by strong-willed female characters who can’t wait around until the boys shake the lead out of their shoes. (New York Times Book Review)
Lisa Gardner, author of Crash & Burn, interviews Karin Slaughter
Lisa Gardner (LG): You’ve had great success with your Will Trent and Grant County series and your first stand-alone, Cop Town. How did your previous books lead you to your first psychological thriller?
Karin Slaughter (KS): It felt like a natural progression to eventually find myself writing about the impact of crime from the point of view of a family. I touched on this a little bit in Fractured, where we get part of the narration from a mother whose daughter has been abducted. Even when I write books where the focus is more on the investigation, I always wonder how families go on after tragedy strikes. Pretty Girls gave me the opportunity to explore that question.
LG: What is it about psychological thrillers that make them so popular today?
KS: I grew up on Daphne Du Maurier and Patricia Highsmith, so that dark, internal narrative is a familiar path. The vast majority of readers across all genres are women and I think what’s different now is women are wanting stories that show women as more layered characters with jobs and families and responsibilities—what we see (and are) in real life. To me, this seems to reflect a broader desire among women to see themselves in books, TV and movies as something more than the hero’s girlfriend.
LG: You use crime as a lens to focus on issues affecting society. What do you hope your readers get from your stories, and what have you learned in writing about crime?
KS: First and foremost, I always want my readers to get a good story. It’s very important to me that when they get to the end of one of my books, they say, “oh, of course” instead of “what the—???” I play very fair with my plots, just like you do, which means that the plot has to make sense. As far as greater themes, Pretty Girls was a way to hold a lens up to the reader and remind them that these crimes we all love reading about actually happen to real people. We see how a single bad act can resonate well into the future. Violent crime has an institutional memory, and the story behind the crime can sometimes be just as tragic as the crime itself.
LG: Do you think being labeled a genre writer is a blessing or a curse? Do you think that there are any misperceptions about crime novels and novelists?
KS: I don’t mind being labeled. Let’s be honest: crime is usually the most popular genre, so it’s a good place to be. What annoys me is when a great crime novel becomes hugely popular, and people say it “transcends the genre,” but the fact is that something like Gone Girl doesn’t transcend the genre; it defines it. Gone With the Wind, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mockingbird. . .you would be hard-pressed to name a story that endures in the popular canon that doesn’t have some sort of crime in it.
LG: What are you reading now and what can fans look forward to next?
KS: I just got my hands on Make Me, Lee Child’s new one, which I am incredibly excited to read. After that, I’ll go back to writing my next book, which has Will Trent and Sara Linton. It’s called The Kept Woman and it’s been a blast getting back into Will’s head—though of course nothing comes easy for him, especially now that Angie is back in town. . .