Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter

Published 2nd July 2015 by Cornerstone Digital/Random House UK

pretty girls


The compelling new standalone novel from the Sunday Times No. 1 bestselling author of Unseen and Cop Town.

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.

My thoughts

This is the latest Karin Slaughter and it is a standalone psychological thriller. Karin is taking a break from her Will Trent/Sara Linton series, which I am seriously missing! What we have in ‘Pretty Girls’ is a killer psychological read; with Karin Slaughter’s unique brand of black humour and strong female leads.

‘Pretty Girls’ introduces us to Claire, a woman in her thirties. Claire’s sister went missing twenty years ago, leaving her family torn apart. Her husband, Paul, is brutally murdered in an alley way, with Claire as a witness. A grieving Claire starts to pick up the pieces of her life. Looking at her husband’s laptop, she starts to uncover secrets and question both her marriage and the man she knew. What was Paul keeping hidden from her?

It is hard to review this without giving too much away. I would hate to ruin the surprises for anyone. It has a gigantic shocking twist or two, with the suspense building beautifully throughout. I loved that. Told mostly from the perspective of Claire and her father; it is a story of a family broken apart by tragedy, after the beloved sister goes missing. It is a missing person story, with a brutal dark kick. There is no attempt to shy away from the evil violent acts portrayed. And we see how sometimes things are not what they seem. The truth is disturbing.

Claire was a fascinating character. She seemed a bit dull initially, a doormat with a perfect marriage and besotted husband. As with all of Karin Slaughter’s characters, we get insight into her thoughts and see that Claire is much more than a grieving widow. I soon began to understand Claire a whole lot better. She develops into a kick-ass woman, with a strong desire for justice and the truth.

Karin Slaughter fans will not be disappointed with this. Another strong powerful story. And for new readers, a brilliant introduction into one of the best crime writers out there. She really knows how to write a dark gritty tale of deception and loss. Recommended.


My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for my review copy!


About Northern Crime

Reviewer with a mind of her own. This is a collection of book reviews, which started in 2014. Mostly crime and odd other genres thrown in. Some I loved. Some I loathed. You get the picture.
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22 Responses to Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter

  1. crimeworm says:

    Oh I just knew you’d race through this one! I’ve got it too and am looking forward to reading it (although I know you’re secretly gutted there’s no Will AGAIN!)

  2. Christine says:

    I couldn’t put it down, Linda. It’s that good. I was hoping that Will would make a brief entrance somewhere in ‘Pretty Girls’. That’s how desperate I am to read about him again. Karin has said her next book is a Will/Sara one.

  3. crimeworm says:

    OK, they’re both standalones so no need to get stressed about reading in order – do you think I should read this before Cop Town as it’s more current, for review purposes? And read Cop Town when I’ve a dry spell in books? (like that ever happens!) You’re my Karin Slaughter expert Christine! :-))

    • Christine says:

      I love it! A Karin Slaughter expert. Errmmm they are both brilliant. I like your thinking. Go with Pretty Girls because it’s the latest. Cop Town is very Life on Mars meets Cagney and Lacey set in 1970s USA. When you are in the mood for that, you will love it!

      • crimeworm says:

        That sounds great actually! But yes, for review purposes, Pretty Girls makes sense. Is Lena still around the Sara / Will books? She was pretty cool; probably my favourite character. A Kind of early Lisbeth Salander. I love kick-ass female characters – my favourites from TV – Spiral’s Laure. And I’ve a crush on Gilou too. I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but it’s great.

  4. Christine says:

    It is. I hope Karin does a follow up to ‘Cop Town’. …Lena does make an appearance. Much to the annoyance of Sara, who totally hates her! I’ve not seen Spiral.

    • crimeworm says:

      You must. It’s on Netflix, if you’ve got it (get the 30 day free trial and binge on Spiral and House Of Cards.) Best waiting for Winter though!

      • Christine says:

        I just looked up Spiral. It’s French. I’m not sure I’d get on with it. I hate it when your brain translates it and there are subtitles at the same time.

      • crimeworm says:

        I have subtitles on all the time as I need to hear EVERYTHING in dramas, especially American dramas like True Detective. If I’m watching TV they’re on! (Except for news as they’re behind always!) And my French isn’t great – I’m actually better with it written down. Laure says “Merde!” a lot. We weren’t taught that at school! I’m seriously impressed you’re fluent. There’s probably a way of switching them off??

      • Christine says:

        I had a good French teacher at school. I find if I’m watching something in French it all comes back. I’m not fluent. Just remember enough for me to follow it and translate.

  5. Keishon says:

    I didn’t come further enough down to see this review….

    I bought the book, too, and plan to read it soon. I live in the U.S. and bought this from the UK because I just couldn’t wait. It used to be that Slaughter’s books were released simultaneously in the UK/US but with this recent long stretch between their release dates, I’m kind of worried about what that means.

    I’ll read your review after I’m finished reading it. One thing I do notice about Slaughter is that she can write strong female characters but they also can be some of the nastiest, meanest women. I’ve kind of lost track of her after UNSEEN but plan to eventually get back on track. I prefer her standalone novels. I read her when she was writing The Grant County series years ago which merged with her Will Trent series. I’m kind of bitter about what happened in Grant County but *I think* I’m over it now but that can all change 😉 Sorry to ramble on your blog.

    • crimeworm says:

      Can I agree? Kill off your most / 2nd most likeable character? I’m no romance fan, but it’s Jeffrey and Sarah, man. F*** this Will! Is he still able to buy Armani suits from second hand shops and Gucci loafers too, or is he doing better with the cash now? NOBODY I know has ever got an Armani suit from a charity or second-hand store. My mate Brian got a brand spanking, tags on, Marks and Spencer duffle jacket 100% wool but it was a score, still a result. Maybe in the new books it’s all eBay and going to out of town discount outlets on days off. That’s his downtime, yo! (Maybe Sara isn’t so hot nowadays?? LOL)

      Talking about meanest nastiest women, remember the furore years ago when Ian Rankin said gay women wrote some of the most violent crime fiction? Val McDermid wasn’t happy (and remember they’re both from Fife in Scotland, and have been massive for years, so will know each other inside out); ditto Karin Slaughter. But Ian and Val made it up over a pie and a Raith Rovers game (shit Scottish team. Also supported by the ex PM Gordon Brown who’s just retired from being an NO, presumably so he can make some real cash.) I’ve no doubt Rankin was taken out of context, probably responding to a question about male writers being all women-killers, and probably responded by saying, Look its not as simple as that. Every crime writer does it. Even….gay woman write violent scenes, for God’s sake. And that would have been subbed to be the headline.

      By the way, I love Lena.. But God knows what she’s done to her! Sorry, Christine, I ranted too, supporting Keishon! Your turn……

      • Christine says:

        Ooo Linda rant away. I love reading a good rant!

        By the last Grant County book, Jeffrey and Sara were too happy. This is crime. You can’t have too happy in crime.You can get away with it in romantic fiction, but not crime. It had to be sorted. (Imagine me saying that in a London accent). Happiness must be fleeting and solved with death.

        And Will in Armani? I have my paperback copy here to check. I saw him as tall and awkward looking in a suit. I don’t remember it being a posh suit. Sara must be hot. She has Will now.

        Interesting your point about nasty evil women. I love a good evil character. Any crime writer who can do that has my approval.

        Don’t you like Lena any more? My main frustration is Sara. I want more Sara and I want her playing a larger role in investigations. I hope Karin fixes this or gives Sara her own standalone.

      • crimeworm says:

        No I still love Lena. Just don’t know what she’s up to now (that makes her sound like someone I used to know!) You CAN have too happy in some types of crime fiction – but the ones I’m thinking of are British – Alex Gray’s Lorimer and Wexford. There must be happy US cops! Somebody! Closes don’t count. Does that Canadian Louise Penny not write a happy cop? Inspector Ganache? Or something like a Thorntons chocolate, anyway.

        No I definitely remember in the first couple Wills I read – look through Triptych – he mentions thrift stores and out of town outlets as he wants to look professional – obviously he’s from a poor background else his parents or a brother would tap him for a couple of suits for his new job (unless they’re criminals! Are they? No, bet you they’re not. Just poor.)

        I’ve been well-off, and I’ve had not much – not in my childhood but in my adult life – but being skint never leaves you. I’m careful with money still – it’s a habit I’ll never break, even if I win the lottery. As then I’d have more to give away to family and charities. What am I on about? I don’t even do the lottery! The odds are way too high.

        And me too. Good evil characters. I don’t care who writes them, as long as they write well. And evil.

        For what it’s worth, I think we’re getting to a time when big books will come out at the same time all over the world, like films now. We’ll still have to wait for smaller ones, see if they do well enough in their home country. I can see it.

        Apropos of nothing, I wish we were at Harrogate with press passes, lovely hotel rooms, and £500 each. Nah, make it more. There’ll be LOADS of books to buy.

    • Christine says:

      Keishon, I wondered about that too. Karin Slaughter is American, yet in the UK we get her books before the USA. It’s totally weird. Usually there is only a gap of a few weeks. I think she changed her publisher in the UK. I remember reading something about it. Maybe that is the reason it is out here earlier. Good on you for getting it as an import. I would do the same!

      Awww I can understand your bitterness. I actually am probably one of the few who liked the bold move in killing off a main character. If I was an author, I would love that kind of power.

      You really should try the Will Trent books. Triptych (hard to spell first thing in the morning), the first Will story, is one of my all time faves and made me hooked on Will. The books become darker in the city and slowly Karin introduces some of the Grant County characters, like Sara. And Sara is grieving and hurting. Karin writes grief rather beautifully. I love them!

      • Keishon says:

        I’ve read most of the Will Trent books except for the 1st one and the last two I thin? Fractured is my favorite Will Trent novel to date. So: I love Will. I hate Sara. Love Lena and loved Jeffery.

        You can’t have too happy in crime? Says who? It can work but I see what mean. I’ve moved on. Bottom line: Karin Slaughter is one heck of a good writer. I love her even though I don’t want to (er it’s complicated).

      • crimeworm says:

        Intrigued! Can you tell us why?

  6. Keishon says:

    I’ve said it already. Because she’s unpredictable and she KILLED OFF one of my favorite characters. I don’t know if you remember after BEYOND REACH, she had a contest that mocked fans who were upset at the ending of the book. I like Slaughter but some of her characters are pretty awful and her books at least with the Grant County series were bleak and dark and horrible things happened to just about everybody. So bottom line, I hate some of her leading characters but I love her writing. She angers me and entertains me. See? Complicated.

  7. crimeworm says:

    Got it. And she can’t do a Conan Doyle and bring him back!

    As for the Beyond Reach thing – I don’t even know that title; perhaps different in UK. Christine? – this is the first I’ve heard of it or this contest, though will investigate. My nosiness again – but I call it my “natural curiosity for life.” Sounds better.

    I think you’ve perhaps articulated how I feel. I hate Will – since the off I have. And I’ve never got over the Jeffrey thing. That was some shock. I still hold resentment toward her.

    Do you think I should see a therapist?

    • Christine says:

      Yes! Get urgent help. He is a love. Will Trent is my kind of fella.

      Beyond Reach is Skin Privilege in Blighty. They always change the names to confuse us!

  8. crimeworm says:

    And so people buy them at the airport! Did I tell you I read Pretty Girls? Don’t think I’ve reviewed it – was too blown away to. Thoughts on reading this debate between me, you and Keishon (I love it when he’s around, he’s great for intelligent crime fiction debates.) again – Karin Slaughter should write True Detective 3, if there is one.
    In Pretty Girls, I liked Lydia more. And her boyfriend. Totally good guy.

    • Christine says:

      Glad you’ve read Pretty Girls. You can’t beat Karin Slaughter’s for quality reads. Review it!!! I can’t wait for her next book. I need Will Trent…

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