“Pretty Girls” by Karin Slaughter, William Morrow, 394 pages, $29.99 hardcover
This is not a book for the faint of heart. It is rife with graphic descriptions of violence, torture and sexual sadism. However, I felt the author handled the material with respect, and I enjoyed the story, despite the horror.
The thriller follows two sisters who haven’t spoken in years. After the disappearance of their older sister, Julia, while she was in college, the family began to grow apart.
Their father becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to his daughter, while their mother retreats into herself.
Lydia, the middle sister, took up a life of partying and drugs, and Claire, the youngest, plunged into a relationship with her now-husband, Paul. Chapters are broken up with poignant letters from the girls’ father as his investigation into his missing daughter progresses through the years.
Twenty years later, as they are all still trying to move on with their lives, Claire’s husband is killed, and she reunites with her sister. Karin Slaughter does an excellent job portraying the relationship between sisters, even ones who have been estranged for decades.
Tension, resentment and protectiveness flare as the sisters look into a possible connection between Paul’s death and a missing girl.
This book is the definition of an engrossing page-turner. I was horrified, but at the same time, I felt like I really needed to know what happened next. And after I finished, I found myself taking a second look at people I know, wondering what secrets they could be hiding.