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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter: FAQs + Books Like It

Updated: Aug 19, 2023

To me, there’s nothing better than reading a lighthearted who-dun-it or a slightly spooky psychological thriller on the beach. It’s why I started Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter in the final days of my Jamaican beach vacation. (Kindle | Kobo | Paperback)

Spoiler alert: Pretty Girls was not light-hearted. Not even a little bit. It was gruesome, explicit, and dark. As much as I wanted to push through (and I did) to find out the truth, I also desperately wanted to put it down, label it DNF, and move on to something else - anything else.

As I said though, I did get through it, which means I can answer the questions I expect perspective and future readers of Pretty Girls will have. I can also offer you five books like Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter to consider reading next. (Warning: This article contains spoilers)

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

What Is the Book Pretty Girls About?

In March 1991, nineteen-year-old Julia Carroll disappeared and was never heard from again. It tore her family apart. Now, 24 years later, another young girl has gone missing and her estranged sisters are both drawing parallels between the disappearances. Then when her sister, Claire’s husband dies in a mugging gone wrong, she begins finding evidence that her husband was not the upstanding man she thought he was, Desperate for help, Clair calls her sister, Lydia, and the two set out to uncover the truth - no matter how ugly and disturbing it may be.

How Graphic Is Pretty Girls?

Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter is very graphic and explicit (refer to the list of trigger warnings below).

What Are the Trigger Warnings For Pretty Girls?

The content matter in Pretty Girls is seriously dark and will not be something all readers can, or will even want to try to handle. That’s why I think it’s important to consider the following trigger warnings for Pretty Girls carefully before reading it:

  • Rape

  • Pedophilia

  • Blood and gore

  • Murder

  • Torture

  • Mutilation

  • Kidnapping

Is There Any Romance in Pretty Girls?

No - there is absolutely no romance in Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter. If you want romance, please god don’t pick this book; it’s anything but.

Who Is the Killer in Pretty Girls?

The killer and masked man in Pretty Girls is Paul Scott (Claire’s husband) and Gerald Scott (Paul’s father). Paul is responsible for Anna Kilpatrick’s murder, while his father is responsible for Julia Carroll’s murder. However, many of the other men mentioned in the book took part in the murders as well, including Congressman Johnny Jackson, Sheriff Carl Huckabee, and Detective Jacob Mayhew.

How Does the Book Pretty Girls End?

After Paul kidnaps Lydia, he returns to his childhood home and tortures her as he did the other girls. In the meantime, Claire discovers Adam Quinn (Paul’s business partner) did not know the truth about Paul and gets the flash drive back. On it, she finds proof of Paul’s snuff porn ring, uploads the files, and sends them to every possible news agency and law enforcement agency.

Claire then goes to Paul’s childhood home, sets it on fire (knowing Paul is afraid of fire), shoots Paul in the knee, and rescues her sister. After escaping, she shoots Paul in the neck again, killing him. Before he dies though, Claire and Lydia confirm where their sister, Julia, is buried on the property.

With the help of her lawyer, Claire does not get arrested for the murder of her husband, Paul. However, the evidence she found on the flash drive leads to the arrest of Congressman Johnny Jackson and Detective Jacob Mayhew.

5 Books Like Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

Are you wondering if there are any other books like Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter out there to read next? The answer is yes, there is! In fact, here are my top five recommendations for similar books.

The Quarry Girls by Jess Lourey

1. The Quarry Girls by Jess Lourey

As I was reading Pretty Girls, all I could think of was how similar it was to The Quarry Girls by Jess Lourey. Like Pretty Girls, it's about the disappearance of young girls and the shocking extent to which seemingly "good" family men are involved. Here's a description: "For the teens of one close-knit community, summer means late-night swimming parties at the quarry. But for two best friends, it’s not all fun and games. Heather and Brenda have a secret. But their vow of secrecy is tested when their friend disappears - the second to vanish in a week - and the authorities are reluctant to investigate. Heather beings desperately searching for answers on her own, only to learn that no one in her community is who they seem. But she can’t stop digging because she knows those girls are in danger. She also knows she’s next."

A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

2. A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

Missing girls? Check. Men who aren't who they seem? Check. Serial killer? Check. I could be talking about Pretty Girls but the book I'm actually talking about is A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham. Here's what it's about: "When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, her own father had confessed to the crimes and was put away for life. Now twenty years later, Chloe finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to achieve. So when a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, seeing parallels from her past that aren't actually there, or for the second time in her life, is Chloe about to unmask a killer?"

All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

3. All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

Like Pretty Girls, Megan Miranda's bestseller, All the Missing Girls, is about the disappearances of young girls years apart. Only this time, the story is told backward, which I think will keep it from feeling too much like a repeat of Pretty Girls. Here's the description of it: "It’s been ten years since Nicolette Farrell left her rural hometown after her best friend, Corinne, disappeared from Cooley Ridge without a trace. Back again to care for her ailing father, Nic is soon dragged back in after her young neighbor, Annaleise, goes missing and it reawakens Corinne’s case. Told backward from the time Annaleise goes missing, Nic works to unravel the truth which prompts her to uncover shocking truths about her friends, her family, and what really happened to Corinne that night ten years ago."

Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan

4. Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan

The one thing that differentiates the other books about missing girls on this list from Finding Claire Fletcher by Lisa Regan, is the added element of captivity. This book has that as Pretty Girls did, which is awful but that's the truth about these books. Here's what it's about: "One drunken night 10 years ago, Sacramento detective, Connor Parks, spent the night with Claire Fletcher. Ever since he's been on a desperate mission to learn the truth about her abduction. Meanwhile, Claire Fletcher has been living her life as “Lynn,” a woman in the terrifying grip of her captor. After her unforgettable night with Connor, Claire clings to the hope that she’ll see him again. But anyone who gets close to Claire has a way of turning up dead and she’s unwittingly made Connor next on the list."

We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin

5. We Are All the Same in the Dark by Julia Heaberlin

Like Pretty Girls and all the other books on this list, We Are All the Same in the Dark is about the disappearances of young women. However, it stands out in my mind because one of the main characters is actually one of the people who go missing. It's hard to explain but it's unique in the best way. Here's a description of it for you: "It's been a decade since Trumanell disappeared, leaving only a bloody handprint behind. Now, her brother, Wyatt, lives as a pariah even though he's been cleared of wrongdoing. So, when he finds a lost girl dumped in a field of dandelions, he believes she is a sign. The town's youngest cop, Odette Tucker, however, believes the girl may ignite their seething town which is still waiting for its own missing girl to come home. Desperate to solve both cases, Odette fights to save the lost girl in the present and to dig up the truth about that fateful night in the past."


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