The quote by Lee Child on the cover of Pretty Girls, published by Karin Slaughter in 2015, says, “Stunning…Certain To Be A Book Of The Year.” Karin Slaughter is talented, but this book is stunning for some of the wrong reasons.
The psychopathic serial killer is more sadistic than Hannibal Lector. The entire law enforcement hierarchy of the area is not only untrustworthy, but addicted to snuff porn. When the killer decides to fake his own death (we don’t learn exactly why), he is able to organize an extravaganza involving an attacker, doctors and ambulance attendants, police, morticians, and probably several other players I’m forgetting. He’s also over-the top organized. This was a jarring note – it’s hard for me to hate someone whose papers are always neatly filed and has maintenance details neatly taped to all his appliances.
The pretty girls of the title are three sisters who are targeted by the killer. This is unfortunate from a literary standpoint because the plot brings to mind “A Kiss Before Dying”, Ira Levin’s 1953 classic that was twice made into a movie. In that haunting story a fairly ordinary young man courts a pretty fellow student from a rich family, the family wealth being a large part of the attraction. As I recall the plot, when premarital pregnancy threatens to cause the family to cut her off, the only solution he can think of is to push her off a roof before they can find out. The grieving fiance is brought close to the family, giving him the opportunity to meet the dead girl’s two sisters.
THAT book was truly stunning.