Thursday, 2 August 2018

Book Review: PIECES OF HER by Karin Slaughter

Author: Karin Slaughter
Publisher: Harper Collins Australia
Read: July 2018
Expected publication: out now
My Rating: ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ๐ŸŒŸ1/2

Book Description:

What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all?

Andrea Cooper 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 ...

My musings:

Every time I pick up one of Karin Slaughter’s novels, I think – oh my gosh, that woman can write! So of course I couldn’t resist the temptation of Pieces of Her, despite the doleful stares of the books in my Alpine TBR pile that are impatiently waiting to be read.

I went into this book totally blind, which often is the best way, so the story line took me completely by surprise. It starts off innocently enough: Andrea Cooper is a thirty year old woman with a long history of dead-end jobs behind her and no real direction in life.  She has recently moved back in with her mother Laura, a speech therapist, initially to help her get through chemotherapy for breast cancer and later until Andrea can figure out what to do with her life. On Andrea’s thirty-first birthday, mother and daughter go to a local diner for a celebratory lunch, when an unknown gunman barges into the restaurant and opens fire on the patrons, instantly killing some and wounding others.

I will not give away any more, except to say that Andrea and Laura’s lives will be altered forever by the events of that afternoon, and Andrea will soon discover that the straight-laced woman she has thought her mother to be may be hiding a few dark secrets! Secrets that will soon have Andrea on the run for her life. It was at this point that I gleefully rubbed my hands together – a cat-and-mouse game with a woman on the run as well as dark family secrets, it really couldn’t get much better than this! For some reason I just looove books where the main protagonist is on the run, whether from the law or from assailants (or both), maybe because I appreciate the subterfuge and the tension of the chase.

From here, the book unfolded in two separate timelines, one from Andrea’s present POV, the other from Laura’s past. Whilst I initially felt more engaged with Andrea’s story, I was soon drawn into the events of the past, and was happy to see that both stories came together beautifully in the end, each carefully preserving their secrets until the explosive finale. This is a skill not to be underestimated, as I often find that a) one POV is usually more engaging then the other; b) one POV often gives something away too soon and destroys the mystery;  and c) switching between past and present, plus different POVs, can make the story feel disjointed. None of this was the case here, which just shows Slaughter’s skill as a writer!

I loved the somewhat bumbling and scattered Andrea and felt that her cross-country flight could have gone on a lot longer and I would have still enjoyed every step of the way, and each breadcrumb of information she uncovers. The political background of the 80’s, Laura’s timeline, was well explored and added a depth to the story I appreciated more and more as it accelerated speed on its way to the abyss. 


I could go on and on about how much I enjoyed Pieces of Her, but for fear of giving something away I will try to sum it up in three four  words: fresh, multi-faceted, adrenaline-fuelled and utterly addictive!  I loved to see Slaughter deviate from police procedurals for this novel, which offered new characters and a completely different perspective – once you read it you will see what I mean. This was a definite winner for me!

Thank you to Netgalley and Harper Collins Australia for the free electronic copy of this novel and for giving me the opportunity to provide an honest review.

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