Pretty Girls – book review

February 26, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Jessica Laurenza

Mind-blowing, gripping, and dark. 

Karin Slaughter’s 2015 novel, Pretty Girls is the best crime thriller I’ve ever read. I’ve actually read it three times and I never re-read books. This heart-wrenching, hilarious and nail-biting novel takes readers through a whirlwind of emotions. One minute you feel sorry for a character, the next, you’re giggling at the witty one-liners Slaughter slides in, the next you’re mad at yourself for not seeing a twist coming. 

The novel follows the lives of estranged sisters Lydia Delgado and Claire Scott who have been battling with past familial trauma for decades. With the combination of a teenage disappearance and a murder, Lydia and Claire are left with a flooding of contrasting emotions and memories. It isn’t until this crime that Claire realizes how much she needs her sister. The women come together and put aside their differences to investigate a crime that they’re sure is being covered up by the police, a crime so vulgar and unspeakable that they can barely process what has happened.

What differentiates Slaughter from other crime novelists is her exploration into the darkest and most inhumane places possible. What others wouldn’t dare to describe, she does. She chose to write a graphic, horrifying, dark novel and she does not hold back. Yes, there are pages that are so disturbing it makes your skin crawl. So if you don’t like vividly written scenes, maybe stay away from this book. As weird as it sounds, I love creepy scenes that make you shiver and check under your bed before you go to sleep, which is why Slaughter is my favourite author.

I enjoy novels that flip between different perspectives, but not so much so that it becomes confusing. Slaughter uses the sisters’ father to preface every chapter, to offer a neutral perspective as to why the sisters are distanced from one another. Slaughter does an amazing job of using only two characters with such conflicting personalities and opinions that it offers a depth like no other. Although Lydia and Claire are sisters, they took two completely different paths in their early 20s that led them to lead different lives on different sides of town. But they share a common reality – they’re both drug addicts and convicted felons. Slaughter uses these similarities to unite the sisters when they least expect it. 

The story explores not only a crime but the complicated relationship between sisters which offers another dynamic most crime novels overlook. She does a good job at creating human characters we can relate to rather than just detectives, suspects and victims. That elevated level of human emotion allows her to show love, loss, anger, grief, and hope all in one story. Slaughter’s deep dive into her characters adds another dimension of emotion in the story. While you’re distracted by the gore and grit of the crimes, you’re filled with love and empathy for the characters. 

What I love most about this novel is Slaughter’s ability to write about unimaginable yet realistic crimes committed against humanity. She poignantly, graphically and creatively writes such suspenseful scenes that you cannot bring yourself to put the book down.

If you like this book, I’d highly recommend anything written by Karin Slaughter. She only writes crime novels so stay clear of her if you aren’t interested in this genre. If you’re looking for a series to invest in, I would recommend the Will Trent series by Slaughter. It will not disappoint. 

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