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Girl, Forgotten


Girl, Forgotten

With GIRL, FORGOTTEN, Karin Slaughter pens a worthy follow-up to PIECES OF HER, which became a huge hit as a Netflix series. My slight problem with the earlier book was that Andrea Oliver was an incompetent, insecure and fumbling fool at times. Now, two years later, she has matured and grown into a formidable character whose insecurities have taken a back seat to her intelligence and a bit more confidence. She mostly has learned to control her emotions and is quite able to start her first assignment as a United States Marshal.

"The whole story is a masterpiece of mystery, and Slaughter's skill as a writer has never shone as brightly as it has in this novel. I am crossing my fingers that there will be more of Andy to come."

While knowledge of the events in PIECES OF HER will help readers understand the backstory and shed light on Andy's somewhat strained relationship with her mother, this well-written, gripping thriller definitely stands alone. It's told in two timelines. The book’s title refers to Emily Vaughn, who was viciously attacked in 1982, the night of her high school prom. She died from her injuries, and the killer was never found or brought to justice. She did survive long enough to give birth to a daughter, whom her parents raised. Emily's mother was in the process of being appointed by President Reagan to a federal judgeship. Months earlier, when Emily revealed that she was expecting, her parents didn't know what to do. The fear was that her mother's career and lifetime judicial appointment would be jeopardized by her pregnancy.

The story is also told in the present, as Andy is assigned to protect Emily because of credible threats against her. It's an unusual situation; Andy just graduated from the academy that trains marshals, and they typically don't get posted on assignment immediately. But there are other machinations at work, including her wealthy and politically connected uncle, who wants to ensure that her father is never released from prison. Andy's father grew up in the small beach town where Emily and her family are spending the court recess, so it's a perfect assignment and gives Andy the opportunity to investigate that long-ago murder to find her father's connection to it.

Unlike in PIECES OF HER, we completely fall in love with several characters here. Andy has become someone we like and want to see succeed. She's a woman on a mission, and we respect her. Emily, the victim who never received justice, is also easy to love due to her innate kindness and sweetness of soul. The members of her clique, the ones she considers her best friends, ridicule her for her collection of broken toys --- these are kids who are ostracized or aren't cool. The other three in her clique are cruel and follow the lead of Clay, a charismatic and handsome leader, with whom they've grown up.

As if these individuals aren’t enough to deal with, we become acquainted with Dean Wexler, the teacher from Emily's high school, whose smarmy behavior has morphed, 20 years later, as he runs a farm. But his farm, which has made him extremely wealthy, is also a place where skeletal women in long yellow dresses and with metal bands affixed permanently to their ankles are kept. They are "volunteers" but are undoubtedly brainwashed. His complete disregard for the lives of these women, who are clearly abused and part of his cult, makes him yet another suspect in Emily's decades-old murder.

There is also Andy's partner, Leonard "Catfish" Bible, who is whip-smart but has a slow Southern drawl and speaks in riddles. His relationships with others add another layer to the story that, combined with the plot, dialogue, setting and carefully created characters, all serve to immerse us fully in the action. We literally keep reading, page after page, to find out who murdered Emily and which of the many relatively noxious suspects is guilty.

The whole story is a masterpiece of mystery, and Slaughter's skill as a writer has never shone as brightly as it has in this novel. I am crossing my fingers that there will be more of Andy to come.

Reviewed by Pamela Kramer on August 25, 2022

Girl, Forgotten
by Karin Slaughter

  • Publication Date: April 11, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller
  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
  • ISBN-10: 0062858971
  • ISBN-13: 9780062858979