Book review: Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter

Sunday, July 15, 2018 Permalink

Karin Slaughter is yet another of my favourite authors. As well as her popular Grant County and Will Trent series, she’s recently released a number of excellent standalone novels. Her latest, Pieces of Her is no different and will certainly appeal to her fans and newcomers alike.

Book review: Pieces of Her by Karin SlaughterPieces of Her
by Karin Slaughter
Published by HarperCollins - AU
on July 23rd 2018
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 1460751752, 9781460751756
Pages: 480

AndreaCooper knows everything about her mother Laura. She's knows she's spent her whole life in the small beachside town of Gullaway Island; she knows she's never had any more ambition than to live a quiet life as a pillar of the community; she knows she's never kept a secret in her life. Because we all know our mothers, don't we?

But all that changes when a trip to the mall explodes into violence and Andrea suddenly sees a completely different side to Laura. A side which is a million miles from the quiet, gentle woman who brought her up. And more than that, news coverage of the mall attack puts Laura's face on every TV screen in the country - and leaves her terrified. Because it turns out that before Laura was Laura she was someone completely different. For nearly 30 years she's been hiding from her previous identity, lying low in the hope that no one will ever find her and re-open the wounds left by the terrible events which made it impossible for her ever to go back. But now she's been exposed, and nothing will ever be the same again.

Twenty-four hours later Laura is in hospital, shot by an intruder who's spent thirty years trying to track her down and discover what she knows. Andrea is on a desperate journey following the breadcrumbs of her mother's past. And if she can't uncover the secrets hidden there, there may be no future for either of them ...

We’re given a bit of insight into Andrea (Andy) before the events that upend her life take place. She’s returned to her hometown after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. It’s been three years and her mother – now recovered – is wanting her to move on. Andy however, has struggled. Her life before returning home was nothing like she’d hoped and she seems to be living (existing) as if in limbo.

I was interested in this: Laura, her mother, is an energetic and vibrant woman; but Andy is seemingly disempowered. Apathetic and almost fearful. I wondered why and probably would have liked a little more backstory / info on her childhood. Despite her 31yr old daughter’s seemingly lacklustre life, Laura (however) is her biggest champion…

“I want you to live your life. I want you to be happy, or, failing, that I want you to find peace with yourself….

“As much as I want to make it easier for you, I know that it’ll never take unless you do it all on your own….

“You are magnificent because you are uniquely you.” Laura pressed her hand to her heart. “You are talented and you are beautiful and you’ll find your way, my love, and it will be the right way, no matter what, because it’s the path that you set out for yourself.” p 19

Andy is forced into action after her mother kills a man who opens fire at a diner. She doesn’t recognise the woman her mother becomes in those moments she overcomes and disarms the shooter. Laura’s quick-thinking actions mean she receives praise and criticism. And (of course) attention.

Andy’s forced into action herself and blindly follows her mother’s instructions as she escapes the fallout of the shooting at the diner and what comes after. She uncovers surprise after surprise, realising how little she knows of her mother’s life.

The present is interspersed with events of 1986 – around the time Andy is born. Initially I was reticent to dive into the past. I’d identified with Andy and her plight… I didn’t want to meet these newcomers!

In our journey back through time we meet a woman bent on revenge and young people railing against the system. And Andy’s mother’s secrets lie amidst the melee: siblings of an economic and business leader with a healthcare empire; the woman who dare stand up to him; as well as a cult-like leader / agitator and his followers.

This novel is quite timely in today’s #metoo climate.

Men never have to be uncomfortable around women. Women have to be uncomfortable around men all of the time. p 119

I hadn’t remembered the 1980s being quite so chauvinistic but perhaps I didn’t know any better then.

I was reminded however of the one and only time I met with a university lecturer during my undergraduate studies… I was 17 and it was in the first few weeks of my (then) Commerce degree. I hated it. It wasn’t what I expected so – on my father’s advice – I went to see the head lecturer. He sat too close to me on a sofa, had me walk across the room to fetch something then told me I could work for a big department store chain and do some modelling at the same time.

I pretty much avoided University staff after that – skipping all small lectures and tutorials in the years after.

As well as current issues around sexism and violence against women (and the wanton bullying of men as well) Slaughter also touches on the issue of monetary and social policy disadvantaging those most in need – very much in the news at the moment but probably less so when she wrote this book.

In a nutshell, the Queller Correction posited that economic expansion has historically been underpinned by an undesirable minority or immigrant working class that is kept in check by nativistic corrections.

The progress of many on the backs of an other. p 119

It might not surprise regular readers of my reviews to know I was a tad disappointed with the conclusion. Not that we don’t get closure, rather I wasn’t entirely sure everyone got what they deserved! Either way, this is a well-paced book with a few surprise twists and another excellent read by the always-reliable Slaughter.

Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter will be published in Australia by Harper Collins and available from 23 July 2018.

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


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