Book Review: Pieces Of Her

By REGINA M. ANGELI

Books Writer

Karin Slaughter, who has penned 18 novels including the Edgar-nominated work, “Cop Town,” has a great mystery with one of the most original and thrilling plots conceived.

Her latest thriller, “Pieces of Her” (William Morrow, 468 pages) is a most ingenious take on the delicate relationship between mothers and daughters.

Thirty-one year old Andrea “Andy” Oliver has left her less than promising career working in the theatre in New York to take care of her mother, Laura, who has been battling cancer.

One morning, while two of them are dining in the Rise-N-Dine in the beachside hamlet of Belle Isle, an upscale community near Savannah, Georgia, the unthinkable happens — a young man enters the restaurant and shoots his ex-girlfriend, Betsy, and her mother, whom he blamed for destroying his relationship with Betsy.

The man then turns the gun on Andrea, who is wearing her uniform as a police dispatcher, mistaking her for an armed police officer.

But Andrea’s mother Laura intervenes. Signaling to her daughter that she run when the shooter turns the revolver on her, Laura begs the shooter to kill her and spare her daughter.

When the crazed young man takes out a hunting knife, Laura seizes the weapon. Even though she is severely slashed in her hand, she manages to kill the shooter.

When the smart-phone video recording of the event made by one of the patrons in the restaurant is later replayed on CNN, it becomes clear to Andrea that her mother is very adept — in fact, too adept in the art of killing.

But her shock intensifies when her mother begs her to leave immediately after the two are released from the hospital. As Andy prepares to leave her apartment in her mother’s garage, she finds a mysterious man wearing a hoodie breaking into Laura’s home.

Andy defends her mother by killing the man with a cast iron skillet.

The plot thickens when Laura orders her daughter to go to a storage facility in Carrollton, Georgia. Here Andrea finds proof that her mother was not the proper southern lady who worked as a prominent speech pathologist, but that Laura had another life – and identity – which she had hidden from her daughter and ex-husband.

Karin Slaughter’s clever story concerning the delicate relationship of mothers and daughters suggests the old woodsman’s adage that there is nothing more than dangerous than a mother bear when it comes time to protect her cub.