“Pretty Girls” by Karin Slaughter – Book Review

Anyone who gazes at this cover and assumes ‘romance’ couldn’t be any further from the truth!  In fact, the author’s last name should shed more light on the contents due to the extreme and graphic violence and torture depicted in the novel."Pretty Girls" by Karin Slaughter

The description of the novel from the author’s website:

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenage sister Julia vanished without a trace.  The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different.  Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta multi-millionaire.  Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet.  But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss – a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them?  Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago… and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Some adjectives you might use to describe “Pretty Girls” are: disturbing, graphic, intense, shocking, etc.  It was all those things and much more.  The many plot twists, fast pacing, and skillful writing ensured that it was a page-turner.  However, the book was not for the squeamish.  Torture, gore, and rape were described in vivid detail… though in my opinion, the graphic descriptions were necessary to ensure that the reader was fully apprised of the extent of evil within the novel’s villain, Paul Scott.  A controlling, manipulative, and sadistic psychopath.

Society is now becoming desensitized to the evil that man can perpetrate upon his fellow man.  The author’s use of graphic description is utilized to shock the reader out of their apathy so as to be more invested in the outcome of the character’s fate.

I very much enjoyed the psychological study of the damaged family and was rooting for the triumph of good over evil.  The book spoke to the immense strength of the women, strength that even they didn’t realize they were capable of.  Notably, I admired Lydia’s character.  A former cocaine addict, she had hit rock bottom and had still managed to pull herself up and make a go of her life.  A real woman: a single mother, businesswoman, slightly overweight, with lots of family ‘baggage’.

This novel achieved everything a ‘thriller’ should.  It kept me enthralled from the first page to the last.  It spoke to the reader’s emotions and cleverly inserted surprise twists and revelations at crucial moments.  With masterful skill, Karin Slaughter has penned a work that surely will receive acclaim for years to come.

“Pretty Girls” is listed in the crime section of the Globe and Mail’s list of 100 best books of 2015.

Jackie Cooper, a reviewer for the Huffington Post, stated that “Pretty Girls” requires a ‘new level of praise’.

Goodreads has almost thirty-two thousand ratings for this novel!

F 5 star

Thanks to HarperCollins/Atria Books via NetGalley for providing me with a digital copy of this novel for review.


Karin Slaughter is the internationally bestselling author of several novels, including the Grant County series and the Will Trent series.  She lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Edelweiss, Favorite books, Page turners, Psychological thrillers and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to “Pretty Girls” by Karin Slaughter – Book Review

  1. Pingback: #BookRecommendations with titles that start with the letter ‘P’ #GreatReads | Fictionophile

  2. I’m personally not a big fan of thrillers, but it might be a good birthday present for my mom… though I’m honestly not sure exactly how graphic she prefers it… 🙂 Thanks for the review


  3. charleighsbooknook says:

    I love Karin Slaughter and I’m yet to read this one! It sounds really good but I’ve avoided it because I’m afraid it will trigger my PTSD. Reading your review about how some scenes are graphic, I think I will avoid it until I feel stronger. So thank you for this honest review xx


  4. I did not like Pretty Girls exactly for the adjectives you described it to be:disturbing, graphic, intense, etc.and that Torture, gore, and rape were described in graphic detail…
    I understand your point of view that “the vivid depictions were necessary to ensure that the reader was fully apprised of the extent of evil.” but I felt it unnecessary to keep repeating it.
    The gratuitous violence, gore and pornography in this novel just turned me off. Sexually assaulting women is not my form of entertainment.
    Having said this I just ordered her latest book Criminal and hope that it won’t be as disappointing because she sure can write and from the look inside of this book it caught my attention.


    • Fictionophile says:

      My ‘in-person’ book club did this novel in March. A few members felt exactly the way you do about the amount of violence, torture, etc. I guess it is just too much for some readers. I do not find sexually assaulting women entertaining. I was rooting for the women to exact some revenge on the perpetrators and for justice to be done. I felt the plot of this novel was a strong one and felt that the use of the graphic descriptions were a device to delve into the damaged psyche of the characters. I agree with you in your assessment that “she sure can write”!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. skyecaitlin says:

    How odd, Lynne, I just started a Karin Slaughter book this morning—-Beyond Reach, and like you, it’s the second Slaughter book I have read. I do agree her writing is intense and very graphic: I have read Blindsighted and liked it very much.


  6. crimeworm says:

    This is a fantastic novel, which I need to review – I liked Lydia too. Karin Slaughter is a huge talent. I’ve still to read Cop Town; I’m looking forward to that one too!


  7. I love your opening comment, not romance but slaughter………..

    I have this one on my TBR list and can’t wait, she definitely is known for the more gory but does it well. I look forward to the strength of a woman in this thriller. Great review.


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