Andrea Oliver’s mother, Laura, is the perfect small-town mum. Laura lives a quiet but happy life in sleepy beachside Belle Isle. She’s a pillar of the community: a speech therapist, business owner and everybody’s friend. And she’s never kept a secret from anyone. Or so Andrea thinks.
When Andrea is caught in a random violent attack at a shopping mall, Laura intervenes and acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter. It’s like Laura is a completely different person – and that’s because she was. Thirty years ago. Before Andrea. Before Belle Isle.
Laura is hailed as a hero for her actions at the mall but 24 hours later she is in hospital, shot by an intruder, who’s spent decades trying to track her down.
What is Andrea’s mother trying to hide? As elements of the past return and put them both in danger, Andrea is left to piece together Laura’s former identity and discover the truth – for better or worse – about her mother. Is the gentle, loving woman who raised her also a violent killer?
My mum has been recommending Karin Slaughter to me for years now and, when I visited Bath a few months ago, I picked up this one at a second-hand bookshop for only £3! Slaughter’s writing style is incredibly detailed, well thought out, and extremely gripping. I managed to put a few pieces together as the story went on, but was still left guessing until the last few chapters. It was a very enjoyable read and I look forwards to reading more of her books!
Pieces of Her follows thirty-year-old Andrea just shortly after her and her mother, Laura, are caught in the middle of a shooting at the local mall. Laura made headlines, not only as one of the victims, but of how calm she was when talking directly to the shooter, and how she defended herself. Many believed that she was trained in self-defence, but Andrea knows better and begins to suspect that her mother might not be telling her everything there is to know about her and her past. While being questioned, Laura decides that Andrea needs to fly the nest and move out. Someone seems to break into Laura’s house and Andrea hears the two talking, like they know each other. Andrea rescues her mother from the strange man but her mother begins to give her instructions wildly, telling her she must flee and not come back until Laura tells her it is safe to do so. Andrea is thrown into a whirlpool of secrets and lies, finding out the truth about her mother’s past and realising that she isn’t as innocent as she thought.
What drew me to this particular Slaughter book first was definitely the element of mystery. I absolutely love a book that constantly urges me to read just one more chapter to answer my questions, but I also love a book that allows me to dissect and come up with my own theories until those questions are answered.
The writing style of Slaughter is incredibly gripping and well-detailed. There was some use of language in it but not so much that it felt forced. The characters were all thought out, we knew their backstories and what shaped them into the people that they are. For instance, Andrea was a struggling waitress in New York before she came home to Laura, who was battling cancer at the time. It was very interesting to learn about the Andrea’s past without using flashbacks, it was almost like Andrea was telling us everything that had happened in that moment, for instance when a man flirts with her at a bar, she begins thinking back to her old boyfriends who weren’t the nicest of chaps.
The story itself is set entirely from Andrea’s point of view, with a few others thrown in. These all soon to fit together and I can’t really explain it without spoiling it completely, but trust me, it was very clever and I’m surprised I didn’t figure it out while reading it.
Overall I ended up rating this book four stars. It is definitely one of my favourite reads of this year, especially as it has introduced me to Karin Slaughter, but also because I adore a good thriller. The reason why I didn’t rate this five stars was that I feel like the ending was a little anticlimactic, while I loved how it ended, I just didn’t like the way it ended. It was sort of told to us rather than shown, and I really find endings like that problematic because I am left feeling a little deflated. All in all, I would recommend this book to other thriller lovers as it gives you absolutely everything you need.