Girl Last Seen (Nina Laurin)

Two missing girls. Thirteen years apart.

An intense psychological thriller for readers of I Am Watching You, The Luckiest Girl Alive, and All the Missing Girls.

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Girl Last Seen is a fascinating thriller told from the perspective of an unreliable narrator… sidenote: that phrase is so funny. When I first saw it on my reading challenge list I was perplexed over what it meant. I could only think of the narrator of an audiobook … one who wasn’t so good at his/her job, who mispronounced the characters’ names? Then I realized, it is the character telling the story, s/he is the narrator. And Laine(y) is a perfect example of this.

Annnd, getting back on topic…

Lainey is a mess. She had a disastrous youth, even before her kidnapping, but she has not healed or adapted well at all. She has abandonment and trust issues, intimacy problems and is a drug addict. Although not recognized as an alcoholic in the story, she also uses hard liquor to drown out her inner demons. She believes she is a fuck-up and that she can never be good because of what happened to her.

Lainey experiences severe emotional and behaviour disorders. As the main (and only POV) character, she is difficult for most readers to relate to but her past trauma is very easily believed as a result.

I’m not sure what it was that bothered me, but I had the hardest time getting through this audiobook. Halfway through I switched to the physical book and finished it in one sitting!

Always remember that if you are having trouble with a novel, maybe something so simple as changing the medium will help.

In Girl Last Seen, Laurin takes a very commonplace core idea of a thriller and writes it from a completely new perspective – one that I haven’t seen anyone else approach before. This helped keep the book fresh in a genre that is exploding with bestsellers right now. I can’t get into the specifics without spoiling it so I will leave it at that.

I did know who was behind the mystery in the end, and there was no one else I ever seriously considered. I wish it had been written with a few more levels to make it harder to discern the identify of the person.

Girl Last Seen is a easy-to-read gripping thriller that is written by a stellar new Canadian author.

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Cop Town (Karin Slaughter)

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Karin Slaughter, author of the bestselling Will Trent novels, is widely acclaimed as “one of the best crime novelists in America” (The Washington Post). Now she delivers her first stand-alone novel: an epic story of a city in the midst of seismic upheaval, a serial killer targeting cops, and a divided police force tasked with bringing a madman to justice.

Atlanta, 1974: As a brutal murder and a furious manhunt rock the city’s police department, Kate Murphy wonders if her first day on the job will also be her last. She’s determined to defy her privileged background by making her own way—wearing a badge and carrying a gun. But for a beautiful young woman, life will be anything but easy in the macho world of the Atlanta PD, where even the female cops have little mercy for rookies. It’s also the worst day possible to start given that a beloved cop has been gunned down, his brothers in blue are out for blood, and the city is on the edge of war.

Kate isn’t the only woman on the force who’s feeling the heat. Maggie Lawson followed her uncle and brother into the ranks to prove her worth in their cynical eyes. When she and Kate, her new partner, are pushed out of the citywide search for a cop killer, their fury, pain, and pride finally reach the boiling point. With a killer poised to strike again, they will pursue their own line of investigation, risking everything as they venture into the city’s darkest heart.

Relentlessly paced, acutely observed, wickedly funny, and often heartbreaking, Cop Town is Karin Slaughter’s most powerful novel yet—a tour de force of storytelling from our foremost master of character, atmosphere, and suspense.

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Cop Town is the third book I have read from this author. It is VERY different from the other two in so many ways, so that was surprising and fun.

One of the biggest differences is that this book is set in the 1970s instead of modern-day. It follows two main characters, a pair of female patrol cops in Atlanta named Maggie and Kate, but also includes scenes from the main baddie’s POV. The story takes place over four days – Kate’s first four on the job – and they are full of action, intrigue and dirty cops.

Cop Town is eye-opening. True to history, Slaughter’s writing is full of the misogyny, racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and police abuses of power that were rampant in the 1970s. It is amazing to think that not so long ago, police departments were worse than half the perps they chased down.

I changed my mind several times on the true identity of “Fox” over the course of the book. I will happily tell you I was wrong in the end. I never convinced myself s/he was this person or that, but I definitely wasn’t leaning in the right direction. This is awesome in a thriller, I hate when the ending is really predictable or completely out of left field!

Whether you are a fan of Ms. Slaughter or have just been reading my latest blog posts, you will be aware that she usually writes dark psychological thrillers in which characters are raped and tortured, often graphically. Cop Town doesn’t contain any of this explicit content, so I would recommend it as the book to start with if you are new to dark stories.

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xx

 

Pretty Girls – Karin Slaughter

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#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged 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 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.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

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This is the second book that I have read from Karin Slaughter who is the mistress of crime dramas in my opinion. Although I am new to her, I have moved her to my top five favourite authors list.

My research has indicated that this author mostly writes a series, which has quite a few volumes in it. I’m not ready to embark a new series at the moment, so I am working my way through her standalones first. Pretty Girls is set in Georgia in the modern-day. It tells the story of a family that has been torn apart by tragedy and the two sisters who stumble across each other again now, nearly two decades later. At first I worried that this would be very similar to her book The Good Daughter, but this isn’t the case at all.

One of my favourite aspects of this book is that the author regularly flashes back in time, to the years immediately following Julia’s disappearance. Here, we can listen to the narrator, speaking from Father’s perspective to his missing daughter, as if reading his journal. We experience how he mourns her. How he still searches for her, never giving up in his efforts, although, the same cannot be said for hope. How their child’s loss tears apart a family, a marriage, and the lack of a body denies any chance at closure.

I think this was a very emotional way to look back on the past and inform the readers of the characters’ backstories. It gives the Dad a voice, as he is deceased in the present. It also shines a light on why marriages tend to end following the loss of a child, how it tears them a part. Julia’s parents look at each other and see a father who gave his daughter rides on his shoulders, a mother who rocked her babies to sleep with a smile. Neither can look at the other parent and separate them from them from Julia.

I felt that Pretty Girls was a little slow in pace at first. This could be partially due to the fact that I would have made different choices than Lydia and Claire did as they started to investigate Paul’s actions. But the book IS nearly 700 pages as well. That is a lot of time to spend in one story. So, SO worth it though. This book kept me guessing and thoroughly engaged from start to finish. I’m already try to peddle it to friends and family because I think it is such a great book.

Ms. Slaughter is the Queen of twists and turns. Just as you think you know how the book is going to play out, there is a sharp left turn. I like books that allow me to think, to ponder different directions it could take, as long as I don’t always turn out to be right. The main thought that kept popping into my head throughout Pretty Girls was “do you really think that that was a coincidence, anymore”?

Pretty Girls is a fantastic example of domestic noir. Definitely a recommended read for anyone looking to sink their teeth into something a bit longer and darker than your typical fiction. This is one of those books that had me yelling out loud at my phone at times. It is a wild ride with graphic violence but the story is amazing.

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