Book Critique - Pretty Girls

Stars: 3 / 5

Recommendation: Karin's plot truly gets under your skin, keeping you breathless all the time, gluing you to the edge of the seats, while each turn of the page gives you new suspense and unexpected turns.

Pretty Girls is a stand-alone thriller by Karin Slaughter, first published in September of 2015. The story revolves around two estranged sisters - Claire Scott and Lydia Delgado - after Claire's husband is killed and she starts uncovering secrets.

Claire Scott had just been reeling with the senseless murder of her husband, Paul Scott, when she uncovers secrets. She reaches out to her estranged sister, Lydia Delgado, to dig through the secrets. Little do they know that their path would lead them to a buried past from their lives, which may put them in mortal danger in the present. 

This is the third book I have by Karin Slaughter. The only reason I had picked this at the used book store, even though it was not part of a series, was because the title reminded me of the young adult novel Pretty Little Liars. I had read partially the first book in Pretty Little Liars series and instantly disliked it. Yet, I picked this book and I have no idea why. :P Anyways, here is what I think about it.

I wonder if Karin's last name being "Slaughter" gave her the idea to create thrillers, slashers and chillers. The amount of depravity in human beings she shows through this plot is unbelievable. Already having read the various books by Christine Feehan, where her plots centered around fighting human trafficking, drug trafficking and weapons, I did come across the way one human being can harm another human being for sheer pleasure if not for anything else.

Yet, I couldn’t help but feel shivers out of fear for the victims of the antagonist, the extent they go to torture someone, and find pleasure in it. Not only they enjoy but they find like minds who can spread that depravity. I was feeling like I was watching an episode right out of Criminal Minds, an American FBI Procedural TV Drama; a series I stopped watching some four years ago as they were getting too real for me to just think as fiction. 

One of the interesting things I noticed about this book was the way Karin inserted several theories, some conspiracy, some scientific, through the words of her characters - Signal Detection Theory; Insufficient Sheer Reinforcement Mode; Masters of the Universe Complex; Law of Truly Large Numbers; Reductio ad Hitlerum; The Palmer Method; Dyadic Completion; Confirmation Bias; Proactive Interference.

These allowed me to take a step away from the chill and get lost in these theories so I don’t panic at the turn of the page.  With this book though Karin's style of writing is two-toned - Some chapters she had given us in first-person narration; while the rest of the plot she gave it a regular format. 

Karin spun a rather troubling plot, if I may say so, that centers on one family but expands beyond them; a family who tried to get through a difficult time; but find that sometimes enemies lie closer to home than they think; and in the end find their lost relationships while fighting the antagonist.

I am glad this was only a stand-alone book. I am not sure I could have taken it if it was a series and focused on this family. Lisa Jackson did the same with her New Orleans Series, but she had other key people and sub-plots involved too, that made them a bit easier to digest. Karin definitely gets under your skin. In my case, it took away my sleep for a few days.

I will be looking for her other books in the Will Trent Series though, since I think I liked Will Trent. Until then, watch this space for more reviews of books from other authors.

Spoiler Alerts:

1. Plot Reveals:

a. Lydia had a pop band when she was younger called Liddie and the Spoons. 

b. Like her other books that I have read so far, Karin had a "have your name appear in the next Karin Slaughter novel", which was won by Pia Lorite. She was casted as the insurance agent for Clair and Paul Scott property and finances.

c. TV Shows, Movies, Music, Books nd Media we come across along the way:

i. Dr. Seuss's You are Only Old Once

ii. Madonna's Justify My Love from her 1990 album The Immaculate Collection.

iii. Crescent and Blue in Green by Coltrane

iv. Hall & Oates' 1981 song Private Eyes:

v. B-52's Love Shack

2. Sub-Plots:

a. Lydia Delgado's family - seventeen years old daughter, Julia Cady "Dee" Delgado; boy friend Rick Butler.

b. Claire and Lydia's birth family - mother Helen Reid; grandmother Ginny who had pleasant dementia making her forget the cruel way she was with her daughter and grand daughters; missing oldest sister Julia Carroll; now dead father Sam Carroll. 

c. Paul Scott's associates - Adam Quinn, his partner; Congressman Johnny Jackson; FBI Special Agent Fred Nolan; 

d. Law Enforcement that we come across along the way - Captain Jacob Mayhew and Detective Harvey Falke of Dunwoody Police Department; Detective Eric Rayman with Atlanta Police; Sheriff Carl Huckabee; 

3. Grammatical / Character / Location / Geographical / Historical / Mythological Errors:

a. On Pg. 327, Karin has Paul's only relative, uncle on his mother's side, dead. However, on Pg. 347, it is clear that Paul's uncle Johnny Jackson is very much alive and is a Congressman mentoring Paul. Was it to show that Paul was lying to Claire like everything, or was it a mistake on Karin's part in portraying the scene?

b. In Chapter 7, we see that Lydia uses her boy friend, Rick's, truck to go to Claire's home. And nowhere after that Karin shows Lydia returning the truck to her boyfriend before going on the expedition with Claire. However, on Pg. 402, we see that the truck is back in Rick's driveway. How did it reach there?


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