Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.
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.
Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher: William Morrow (September 29, 2015)
Publisher: William Morrow (September 29, 2015)
My Review: If I had three words to describe Pretty Girls they would be: dark, twisted, and chilling. For some reason this is my first Karin Slaughter book and based on this one, it won't be my last. The story is told both in present day through the voices of sisters Lydia and Claire, and the past through excerpts of the journals that their father wrote to their missing sister Julia. Julia's disappearance had an understandably huge impact on her family, each member dealing (or not dealing) with their grief in different ways. Lydia, the middle sister is a recovering addict, raising a daughter and working for every penny, while Claire, the baby, married into money, volunteers, and mostly lets her husband take care of her. The sisters are estranged and it isn't until Claire's husband is brutally murdered and she starts discovering the terrible secrets that he kept hidden, that the sisters come back together to figure out the truth. I don't want to go into a lot of detail about the plot because there are so many great twists and revelations, you owe it to yourself to let them unfold. And unfold Pretty Girls does--at a very rapid pace--especially the second half, which shocks and disturbs and makes the book pretty impossible to put down.
Pretty Girls is about a family, and how grief and a terrible unknown so drastically changes both the individual members and the family dynamics. It is also a complex and well crafted thriller that describes with vivid detail some horrible crimes committed against young women. If that is a trigger point for you, or you can't/don't read books that spend a lot of time on the dark side, it is not the novel for you. If you can look to the story behind the crime, it is a book that is worth every cringe it causes. Just don't read it late at night, when you are feeling vulnerable, or especially when you have something you need to do, because you won't want to stop reading.
A Quick Note: I realized after I read the book and went to the author's website, that there is a short story prequel to Pretty Girls called Blond Hair, Blue Eyes available. It's the story of Julia Carroll and what happened the day of her disappearance; setting the stage for the novel. I read it last night and it was an interesting and compelling accompaniment to the novel that you can read before or after you read the book.
Author Notes: Karin Slaughter is the #1 internationally bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including the Will Trent and Grant County series and the instant New York Times bestseller Cop Town. There are more than 30 million copies of her books in print around the world.
Find out more about Karin at her website and connect with her on Facebook.
Food Inspiration: There is little about this book that makes one think or want to think of food--other than stress-eating when the action and tension ratchet up. ;-) There were a couple of food mentions though--mainly pancakes that the Carrolls ate as a family, a chicken and biscuit sandwich that Claire's mom got for her along with coffee in the midst of the action, and finally the "egg bread" that Lydia makes for Claire.
In the book, egg bread was something from their childhood and Lydia's lazy way of cooking eggs without having to whisk them--simply dropping bread in a pan of oil and then cracking eggs on the top, stirring them around with the spatula and cooking them 'until the shininess was gone.' I didn't think that would make for the most appealing photo so I made a variation of eggs in a hole--something that was called ding-dong eggs at my house and that I ate frequently as a child on Saturday mornings. Still no whisking, it looks better in pictures, and you get the benefit of runny yolk to dip the fried bread in.
No real recipe needed here. I make a hole in the center of a slice of bread (or use a fun cookie cutter shape), heat a drizzle or two of oil in a frying pan over medium heat and lightly toast my bread (both frame and cutout) on one side. Then, I turn the bread over, lower the heat slightly, crack an egg into the frame, and sprinkle it with a little salt, black pepper and smoked paprika for color. I usually pop a lid on the pan so the steam cooks the egg white (runny egg yolk good, runny egg white bad!) for a minute or two so the yolk is still bread-dipping friendly. Carefully lift from the pan onto serving plate and serve with the toast cutout.
Notes/Results: Yum! Enough said. ;-)
Note: A review copy of "Pretty Girls" was provided to me by the publisher and TLC Book Tours in return for a fair and honest review. I was not compensated for this review and as always my thoughts and opinions are my own.
You can see the stops for the rest of this Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.