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Despicable villain delivers heart-stopping thrills

Updated: Jan 13, 2022

Pretty Girls - Karin Slaughter

Cornerstone Digital
Released: 2nd July, 2015

Psychological Thriller Fans rating - 86% ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Genre: Psychological thriller

Premise: Twenty years after their sister, Julia vanishes, Claire and her sister, Lydia are reunited following the brutal murder of Claire’s husband. Together, they put their differences apart to piece together the horrific truth of what really happened to Julia all those years ago – and in doing so, fall victim to a twisted, psychopathic killer.


This book was published more than six and half years ago, but it’s repeatedly recommended on reader forums as a must-read thriller.

I’d never read anything by Karin Slaughter so dived in with high expectations.

What I loved about this book is that it is a pure thriller. There’s a clear villain (although his identity remains a mystery for half of the book) and there is a clear protagonist (Claire) who in trying to solve the crime (who abducted her sister) not only falls victim to the villain, but is threatened with a 'fate worse than death'.

I’ve also seen numerous trigger warnings about this book because of its graphic nature, and they’re not misplaced.

Slaughter really does have a twisted imagination. But that’s what a thriller’s all about, right?

You want to feel the fear, be repulsed by the actions of the villain, and have your heart rate racing as the story unfolds.

And in that respect Slaughter delivers in spades.

It’s a great plot, delivered with some wonderfully evocative, visceral language.

However, there were parts that stalled and plodded, right when you were getting into the main action that I found frustrating.

In places, it felt overwritten. Personally, I would have lost about 25% of the novel and I think it would have been better for it. It would increased the pace and really left you gasping for breath, without losing any depth.

As it was, there were some chapters that seemed to go on and on without relenting.

Good twists and turns though. An excellent, thoroughly evil villain who had little in the way of redeeming features. And a hero you could really root for, even if she could be accused of being a little naïve in the beginning of the story.

Overall, an excellent read and a great story, although not one for the faint hearted.


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 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 of a 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.


*Please note - while I'm not affiliated with the author, I do make a small commission on purchases made through these links.


AJ Wills is the bestselling author of multiple psychological thrillers. He was a journalist for more than twenty years and has been writing full-time since March 2021. He's married to fellow thriller writer, AJ McDine.

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