Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Review of Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter (2018, HarperCollins)

Andrea Oliver is 31 years old and living at home in the small coastal town of Belle Isle with her divorced mother, Laura, a speech therapist. She’s drifting in life, unsure and unwilling to find a direction. All that is about to change with a trip to the mall. A young man is goes on a killing spree and Andy is in the firing line until her mother turns Rambo. It seems that Laura has a hidden past and the wall-to-wall television coverage of a video shot on a phone is about to unearth it. Andrea soon finds herself on the run using an escape line her mother set up years before. Her world turned upside down, Andy starts to hunt for answers, though she’s not sure she wants to know the truth.

Pieces of Her is a standalone thriller about the relationship and secrets between a mother and her daughter and a past that is about to catch up with them both. Slaughter tells the story as two separate narratives. One taking place in the 1980s focusing on the past life of the mother, Laura, which she has kept secret. The second is in the present and tracks the life of Andrea, the 31 year old daughter. A shooting at a mall triggers the events in the first to rupture the second. Everything Andrea believed about her mother’s past, about her family lineage, is false. And now her world is upside down and she’s on the run and looking for answers. Slaughter keeps both lines moving at a clip, with plenty of intrigue, tension and action in both. The first fifty pages or so are excellent, creating a strong hook that tugs the reader through to a well executed double denouement. In the middle, the book slows a little with a bit too much exposition at times, but never loses interest or forward momentum. The key strength of the story is, however, the character development of both Laura and Andy and their mother/daughter relationship, which is very nicely done, adding to the thriller nature of the tale. Overall, an entertaining thriller that would make for a good movie. 

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