Review of “Pretty Girls” by Karin Slaughter

This latest standalone thriller from Slaughter is one of the scariest books I have read in a long time, and one of the most disturbing, as well as being up to Slaughter’s high standards of excellent writing.


Young pretty teenage girls have been going missing in the Atlanta area. When a new girl is taken, it hits two women particularly hard, because their older sister, Julia Carroll, disappeared 24 years earlier and they have been traumatized ever since; it basically destroyed their entire family. One of the sisters, Claire Scott, went on to marry a very rich man and had what should have been an ideal existence, but she now endures more heartache when she and her husband Paul are robbed and Paul is knifed to death. Moreover, while she is at the funeral, her home is burglarized.

Claire’s older sister Lydia, who was closer to Julia, has had a much harder life. She was addicted to drugs and alcohol for a long time, and struggled with poverty and single parenting. She was cut off by her family and hasn’t seen them in eighteen years. She currently has a business and a kind and supportive boyfriend, Rick, but nothing comes easily for her.

Their stories are told in chapters that alternate with passages from a diary kept by one of the fathers whose daughter was taken.

As the plot unfolds, perhaps the scariest element is that the sisters (and you the reader) don’t know who is telling the truth, who is lying, whom you can trust, and who represents mortal danger.

This book gave me nightmares even after I finished it!

Discussion: Slaughter likes to bring readers’ attention to awful things done to girls and women, but in the process, she brings our attention to awful things done to girls and women! It’s pretty hard to take. And yet, as she might say, she’s not making this stuff up! … except of course, for the specific characters who do her dirty work.

Ordinarily, I try very hard to avoid books that describe very bad things happening to women, but I always make an exception with Slaughter. Her compassion as well as her anger over what can happen to women is clearly expressed and always a part of her stories.

Evaluation: Slaughter is one of the best crime writers around. The subject matter of this book is quite grisly, but it will keep you on the edge of the seat, and perhaps even educate you about a matter that is usually kept behind closed doors, considered unsuitable for newspapers.

Rating: 4/5

Published by William Morrow, and imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2015


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6 Responses to Review of “Pretty Girls” by Karin Slaughter

  1. I’ve never read her. One of these days…

  2. Alex says:

    I’ve been ready pretty scary books for RIP, but I think I’ll keep this in mind for next year – there’s just so much i can take without sleepless nights!

  3. Diane says:

    On my shelf and was hoping to read it for RIP as well. The violence against women is sometimes awfully hard to read about though.

  4. BermudaOnion says:

    I tried one of her books on audio and the accent and pronunciations were so bad it turned me off. I need to try one of her books in print.

  5. Beth F says:

    I haven’t read this yet, but it’s on my October list.

  6. Bridget says:

    I loved this one! Btw, I’m pretty sure the journal is kept by Claire and Lydia’s father after their sister’s appearance. That’s part of what made it so heartbreaking.

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