Wednesday, September 14, 2022

[Review]—A Magnificent Thriller from Start to Finish: "Girl, Forgotten" by Karin Slaughter


Despite knowing about both, I'm probably one of the few bloggers who hasn't read Karin Slaughter's Pieces of Her or seen the Netflix series based on it. I'd never read anything by the author until I read Girl, Forgotten, the sequel to Pieces of Her. I'm curious about the book for two reasons: the title and the cover. "Girl, Forgotten," the title's two simple words, are strangely alluring. Then there's the front cover. The cover is hypnotic... and a little creepy. 

I have a poor tendency to read the second or third book in a series first, and if it isn't a standalone story, figuring out a character's past can be problematic. Normally, I have to fill in the gaps, but this wasn't the case with Girl, Forgotten. The first few "present-day" chapters provided enough information for me to figure out who the protagonist, Andrea Oliver, is and what happened to her in Pieces of Her. Yes, I mentioned "current" chapters. This novel contains flashbacks... and everyone knows how I feel about flashbacks. The good news is that I didn't mind the flashbacks in Girl, Forgotten. The flashback chapters were well-written and extremely important to the plot.

The narrative opens on April 17, 1982, in Longbill Beach, with pregnant girl Emily Rose Vaughn preparing for her high school prom—a prom she isn't invited to. Her pregnancy was the subject of much gossip all over the small town, which was an embarrassment for her parents. All she wants to do is have a fun night at her prom, like every other teenager, but, sadly, that isn't in the cards for Emily. 

In the present day, Andrea Oliver is about to graduate from the US Marshal Training Academy. That's right; the main character in this story is a brand-new US Marshal. Her first task is to safeguard a federal judge who has been threatened with death. This judge is none other than Emily's mother, Esther Vaughn. Andrea becomes emotionally engaged in this case after reading the paperwork on Emily, who was viciously assaulted on that terrible prom night in 1982. The young woman was placed on a ventilator and survived long enough to give birth nearly two months later. Clayton Morrow, also known as cult psychopath leader Nicholas Harp, who happens to be Andrea's biological father, was one of the suspects and the possible father of the baby. 

After the first few chapters, I was hooked and kept reading to find out what happened to Emily Vaughn. While I like Karin Slaughter's writing style and use of rich descriptions, the novel is not for the faint of heart. There are some disturbing moments. Many of the side characters (also known as suspects) are the nastiest lowlifes you'll ever read about. I mean, you'll despise these folks and feel disgusted to hear about their hobbies. 

Not everyone in this book is a scumbag. Andrea Oliver is a terrific heroine. Catfish Bible (such a name! ), her new partner, is my favorite character in this narrative. Emily Vaughn is also an interesting character, but as you read the flashbacks, you feel bad for her because you know what will become of her.

I was going to give Girl, Forgotten a 4 out of 5, but after writing this review, I've convinced myself to give it a perfect five out of five. Karin Slaughter has a magnificent writing style, and I was thoroughly engaged in the narrative. Every time I closed the book, the story stayed in my mind, compelling me to read all the way to the finish. Yes, the book is that good.╌★★★★★

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