‘Pieces of Her’ by Karin Slaughter: Fascinating Study of Human Strength and Fragility

pieces of her

Karin Slaughter writes thrillers with compelling characters and engrossing plots, and with “Pieces of Her,” she continues that tradition. In this book, Slaughter introduces two women main characters who are both deeply flawed, yet both discover incredible inner strength and the story plots that growth through flashbacks and the nonstop action.

The story begins with Andrea, out to lunch with her mother Laura. Andrea lives over her mother’s garage in their small, quiet town on the coast. She has little ambition, no ascertainable skills, and has pretty much made a mess of her life to this point.

Her mother, on the other hand, is a revered speech pathologist who is known for her skills and who seems to be perfect in many ways. Laura divorced her husband Gordon, who is the only father Andy (as Andrea prefers to be called) has ever known. The fact that Gordon is a black, uptight attorney who specializes in estate planning is an interesting detail, as is the fact that he’s still an important part of Andy’s life.

All three of their lives are upended when during their lunch, a deranged man comes into the restaurant bent on killing his ex-girlfriend and threatens to kill Andy as well. Laura calmly and smoothly moves to protect Andy, resulting in the death of the gunman. Her moves, clearly those of someone used to dealing with violence, are at total odds to everything Andy has known about her mother.

Inexplicably, right after the attack, Laura tells Andy she must move out from the garage apartment immediately. Laura tells Andy she can’t spend even one more night there. Andy is confused and hurt, but goes to comply. But like everything else Andy does, she fails at this and falls asleep during the packing process.

Andy wakes up in the middle of the night and goes to find a bicycle to get to her father’s place when she sees an intruder. She realizes that her mother is in danger and sneaks into the house. Finally, Andy does something right — she saves her mother’s life. Immediately after, Laura tells Andy she must leave quickly and gives her specific instructions about where to go, how to disable the GPS tracker on the vehicle, and tells her to wait for further instructions from Laura. Andy begins to follow her mother’s instructions, but decides to also follow up on clues she overheard from her mother’s attacker.

Those clues lead to Andy unraveling the mystery of who her mother really is and why they are in danger. The writing is Slaughter-wonderful. The plot surges forward, the character’s personalities, their strengths and weaknesses are revealed carefully and thoughtfully, and the dialogue and narrative are pitch-perfect. Slaughter posits what might be the effects of child abuse and how that would affect adult relationships. The characters include a charismatic psychopath as well as billionaires who will do anything to make more money.

All in all, it’s a thrilling read for those who enjoy character studies, action novels, mysteries, or just about any kind of adult fiction.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by William Morrow, the publisher, for review purposes.

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