Author: Karin Slaughter
Published: August 2018 by HarperCollins
Category: Crime, Thriller, Mystery, Psychological, Book Review
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 knows she’s spent her whole life in the small 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.
Three years ago thirty-one year old Andrea (Andy) left New York and returned home to help nurse her mother Laura, after a breast cancer diagnosis. Andy has no drive or ambition and no meaningful personal relationships to speak of. Her mother has made her life so agreeable that Andy doesn’t know how to begin to take control herself.
She and her mother are in a diner at the mall when the unthinkable happens. Andy hears a pop…then another pop..pop. Two people lie dead on the floor. Laura’s reaction to the shooter and the ensuing violence stuns Andy into a terrified state of shock. She can’t equate the woman in front of her, and her actions, with the mother she thought she knew. When Andy is involved in more violence at her mother’s house she embarks on a desperate journey, following clues to her mother’s past, to save herself and discover who Laura really is.
His black shirt turned blacker. The pearl buttons showed different shades of pink.
The gun dropped first.
Then his knees hit the floor. Then his chest. Then his head.
Andy watched his eyes as he fell.
He was dead before he hit the ground.
The mystery of Laura is at the heart of the story, a story which leads the reader down dead ends and in many wrong directions. Who is Laura? Certainly much more than the bridge playing, speech therapist and prominent member of the community that Andy thought she knew. The terrible incident in the diner marks the beginning of the end of their life as they know it. The police are involved. Laura becomes infamous and exposed but won’t talk—to anyone, much less Andy.
Pieces of Her is a dual timeline psychological thriller, set in the present day and the mid 80s. Each chapter’s heading is clear so the reader knows the exact sequence as the narrative weaves from one period to the other, exploring the mother/daughter relationship along the way.
The characters are devised extremely well, even though I found myself irritated many times by Andrea to begin with. She seems incapable of uttering a complete sentence and has no get up and go, no direction in life. But now she has no choice and needs to make her own decisions. No-one is going to make them for her….and if she makes the wrong ones her life could be at stake. Laura’s secrets are liable to destroy….one or both of them.
I began to enjoy Andrea more as she begins the search, following the trail her mother left and finding her own strength of character as she goes. It works well, the reader doesn’t really know anything before Andrea and so are following the clues with her, not knowing how anything would unfold. The flashbacks are quite complex and confusing initially but Karin Slaughter ties both stories together smoothly, while including current, relevant issues, and leading to a very surprising conclusion.
I chose to read and review Pieces of Her based on an advance reader copy supplied by NetGalley and the author/publisher.
About the Author
Karin Slaughter is one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed storytellers. Published in 120 countries with more than 35 million copies sold across the globe, her eighteen novels include the Grant County and Will Trent books, as well as the Edgar-nominated Cop Town and the instant New York Times bestselling novels Pretty Girls and The Good Daughter. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programing. A native of Georgia, Karin Slaughter lives in Atlanta. Her Will Trent series, Grant County series, and standalone novel Cop Town are all in development for film and television.