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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

July 11, 2015

With a missing girl in the news, Claire Scott can’t help but be reminded of her sister, who disappeared twenty years ago in a mystery that was never solved.

But when Claire begins to learn the truth about her sister, nothing will ever be the same.

I’m a big fan of Karin Slaughter’s work, especially her Grant County series. Pretty Girls is a stand alone novel and it is a very dark and intense read.

Violent and dealing in horrible degrading crimes, this is nevertheless a gripping and emotional novel.

Claire Scott’s sister, Julia Carroll, has been missing for twenty four years, and she never fails to notice when similar missing girls  cases are reported in the news. Claire has lost a great deal in her life, some, but not all of it as a result of her sister’s disappearance. In many ways that disappearance has shaped all of her life choices since then.

Then, suddenly, after a pleasant evening, her husband Paul is stabbed to death in an alley in front of her.

She comes home from the funeral to find that she has been the victim of an attempted burglary, and that both the police and the FBI are waiting for her. As if that were not enough, her husband’s business partner is urgently looking for some files he needs. But when Claire goes into Paul’s computer to look for the files, the bottom drops out of her world and she no longer knows who she can trust or what to do.

Pretty Girls is a story told from three perspectives. Extracts from diaries written by her father show the extent of the impact of Julia’s disappearance on the wholen Carroll family. Her father’s diaries chronicle the extent he went to in trying to find out what happened to Julia but also show the devastating impact that her disappearance had on the whole family.

The book is compulsive reading, despite its very dark and extremely disturbing crimes. What engages the reader is the relationship between Claire and her sister, Lydia and now these two women take their fragile relationship and build it into an unbreakable bond through the very worst adversity. Interestingly, Claire, as the central protagonist isn’t always likeable and certainly isn’t a paragon of virtue. This makes you like her just a little bit more than you otherwise might.

Not for those with a weak stomach, but a strong and compelling read.

Pretty Girls is published by Cornerstone Digital

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