Friday, November 29, 2019

Book Review: PIECES OF HER

HARPERCOLLINS/William Morrow – @HarperCollins; @WmMorrowBks

[This review was originally posted on Patreon.]

AUTHOR: Karin Slaughter – @SlaughterKarin
ISBN: 978-0-06-288309-4; paperback; 5.31 in x 8.00 in (May 21, 2019)
494pp, B&W, $16.99 U.S., $21.00 CAN

Pieces of Her is a 2018 novel by author Karin Slaughter.  It was published in hardcover by William Morrow (an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers) in August 2018, and the first trade paperback edition was released May 2019.  It is the paperback edition, a review copy of which I received from the publisher, that is the subject of this review, dear readers.  A thriller, Pieces of Her focuses on a young woman forced to grapple with this question:  What if the person you thought you knew best turns out to be someone you never knew at all?

Pieces of Her introduces Andrea “Andy” Eloise, a 31-year-old woman who is adrift in life.  She left New York City and her dreams of being an artist to return to her hometown of Belle Isle, Georgia.  There, she took care for her mother, Laura Oliver, who had been diagnosed with breast cancer.  A few years later, Andy is still in Belle Isle, now a 911 operator.

On Andy's 31st birthday, Andy and Laura are having lunch at a local diner, “Rise-n-Dine,” located in the Mall of Belle Isle.  During the birthday meal, something unthinkable happens that will forever change Andy's life.  A young man starts shooting people in the diner.  Almost as shocking is the fact that Laura Oliver tries to talk the young man down and stop him from shooting more people, before she violently disposes of him as threat.  WTF, indeed?

Andy thought she knew her mother.  Laura Oliver is the woman who has spent her whole life in a beach-side town.  She is the woman who always wanted to do nothing more than live a quiet life as a pillar of the community... isn't she?  However, video of the mall incident has exposed Laura to her enemies from her past... because before Laura Oliver was Laura Oliver, she was someone else entirely.  Andy even wonders about her stepfather, Gordon Oliver.  What does he know?  Now, on the run, Andy follows a trail of crumbs from her mother's past, and she has to uncover the truth about Laura Oliver's past if her and her mother want to have a future.

I recently read my first Karin Slaughter book, the most excellent police procedural/crime thriller, The Last Widow, which was published just this past August (2019).  Like that book, Pieces of Her is a multi-genre thriller, so it is hard to pin it down to being one kind of novel.

The Library of Congress catalog for Pieces of Her (included on the copyright and indicia page at the front of the book) describes this book using the following categories of fiction: mothers and daughters, violence, identity (psychology), family secrets, mystery and detective, police procedural, women sleuths, and suspense.  Pieces of Her is all of that and more.  It is like a box of chocolates from the mystery genre candy-maker.  There is something for every reader who ever read a story about a character trying to unravel a mystery – whether that character was civilian, amateur, or professional mystery solver and “untangler” of secrets.

Like I was with The Last Widow, I am determined to spoil as little as possible of Pieces of Her.  After she has her character, Laura Oliver, kill the mall shooter, author Karin Slaughter reveals a past for Laura that is so shocking and unexpected that the readers might rightly think that Slaughter is dealing with a character entirely separate from Laura.  Initially, I thought so; then, I was so shocked at what Slaughter slapped in my face that I hoped the past Laura was not the same as the Laura at the beginning of the novel.  If that were not enough, Slaughter sends Andy on a breathtaking, pulse-pounding, and sometimes blood-chilling misadventure in uncovering secrets.

While this novel does have a few dry spots, to describe Pieces of Her as a good read is liking describing a cancer diagnosis as bad news.  Yes, both are true, but they are also enormous understatements.  If you want to read a thriller that beats your imagination into submission, then, read Pieces of Her.

9 out of 10

Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

The text is copyright © 2019 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.


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