An innocent mother-daughter lunch at a shopping mall comes to an abrupt halt when they are caught up in a shooting rampage – and that’s only the first of the seismic shocks delivered by international bestselling author Karin Slaughter in her well-crafted psychological thriller, Pieces Of Her.
Seconds later comes another shock when Laura Oliver acts in a way that is unrecognisable to her daughter, Andrea. Laura meets violence with violence to save Andrea’s life and is hailed as a hero, but it’s like she’s a different person.
That’s because she was. Once upon a time, 30 years ago, before she became ‘the perfect small-town mum, pillar of the community, doctor, everybody’s friend.’
A mere twenty-four hours after the mall incident, Andrea, still traumatised after the shooting and the sight of her mother acting like a female 007, witnesses her mother being shot by an intruder.
A terrified Andrea is urged to flee by her mother who gives her a set of mysterious directions about where to go and what to do. Thus begins a highly dangerous game of cat and mouse and an engrossing search for the solution to a jig-saw that at times becomes more puzzling the more pieces she finds.
It doesn’t help that Andrea is meek, unconfident, so ridden with anxiety at times she can barely speak except to squeak. With very few friends and no career success to date of any kind, she is the complete opposite to her mother and if the truth be known, a little annoying.
Andrea’s sensible step-father is always telling Andrea ‘to do something…For a long time, she had blamed him for her lethargy. When both of your parents were driven, accomplished people, it was a form of rebellion to be lazy, right?’
Actually no, Andrea.
On the run from unknown enemies, determined to find out who her mother really is – the gentle, loving mother who raised her, or violent, professional killer? – Andrea begins her search, lurching from clue to clue as she retraces her mother’s past and the people she once knew.
That you have no confidence in Andrea being able to do anything successfully, let alone avoid dangerous assailants and solve a decades old mystery, only adds to the tension, her every slip-up making the story more gripping. Her mission becomes yours and the question becomes more pressing: who was Laura, really and what has she been hiding?
Right at that very moment, Pieces of Her takes you back to July 26, 1986, to a business conference in of all places, Norway, where we are introduced to a new family:
‘Martin Queller’s children were spoiled in that quintessential American way. Too much money. Too much education. Too much travel. Too much too much, so that the abundance of things had left them empty.’
Alternating chapters between this back story and the hair-raising adventures of hapless Andrea, adds depth and more layers of intrigue to what is already a cracking read.
What is the relationship between the Queller family and Laura and Andrea of the sleepy beachside town of Belle Island? (‘Belle island was neither belle nor, technically, an isle.’ Love these droll asides from Slaughter). If one of the female characters in the back story is the woman who became Laura, which one is it?
The questions pile up. Time passes. Many cups of tea are served by an understanding husband and this reviewer who hasn’t read a Slaughter book in years, begins to understand her phenomenal success.
Bruna Papandrea, co-producer of last year’s smash hit series, Big Little Lies, has bought the rights to Pieces of Her, describing it as ‘an emotional mother/daughter story living in the skin of a heart-pounding action thriller.’
Couldn’t have said it better myself.
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 organisation established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, Karin Slaughter lives in Atlanta. Her standalone novels The Good Daughter and Cop Town are in development for film and television.