Source: Review copy
Publication: 23 June 2022 from Harper Collins
My thanks to Harper Collins for an advance copy for review
A girl with a secret…
Longbill Beach, 1982. Emily Vaughn gets ready for prom night, the highlight of any high school experience. But Emily has a secret. And by the end of the evening, she will be dead.
A murder that remains a mystery…
Forty years later, Emily’s murder remains unsolved. Her friends closed ranks, her family retreated inwards, the community moved on. But all that’s about to change.
One final chance to uncover a killer…
Andrea Oliver arrives in town with a simple assignment: to protect a judge receiving death threats. But her assignment is a cover. Because, in reality, Andrea is here to find justice for Emily – and to uncover the truth before the killer decides to silence her too…
Karin Slaughter is an author whose new books are a must read for me. Girl, Forgotten is the follow up book to Pieces of Her and I’d recommend that you read that book first for background to Andrea Oliver’s character and upbringing which are an important part of this story.
This is a different Andrea Oliver to the one we met in Pieces of Her. Now Andrea has just completed her training with the US Marshal Service and is about to be launched into the world as a fully-fledged Marshal. Her mother Laura is less than happy about this because Laura’s birth father, the psychopath Clayton Morrow (also known as Nick Harp) is incarcerated and due for parole consideration in six months and Laura knows that Morrow will be keeping tabs on Andrea. Michael Vargas, a US Marshal whom Andrea has known for years as part of her and her mother’s life, also has a role in this book
Andrea is teamed with Leonard Bible, an experienced Marshall who takes no time to begin teaching Andrea the ropes. Bible is a kind and clever man who teaches well and introduces Andrea to his ‘rules’. Their first case together is protecting Judge Esther Vaughn who has been receiving death threats. Bible, it transpires, is married to Deputy Chief Cecilia Compton and there’s a lot of humour in the way this couple switch from boss and subordinate to husband and wife.
This is no coincidence. Andrea has plans that she has divulged to no-one. She intends to investigate a cold case from 40 years ago. Emily Vaughan, the judge’s daughter, was brutally murdered at Longbill Beach. Only 17 years old, heavily pregnant and ostracised by her friends, suffering the stern disapproval of her parents and reeling from a pregnancy that was literally forced upon her, Emily was trying to find out what happened the night she got pregnant and one of the people in her sights is Clayton Morrow, the leader of the school clique that she used to be part of. She had attended a party that her friends were giving and after taking an acid tab, had no memory at all of what had happened to her and her clique closed ranks and claimed no knowledge or responsibility, eventually turning on her and calling her a slut.
On her way back from a humiliating reception when she appeared at the school Prom, 17 year old Emily was brutally beaten to death and her murderer has never been found.
So Andrea, while protecting Emily’s mother, plans to delve into the cold case that is Emily’s murder because she wants to be able to link it to her own birth father, Clayton Morrow.
Some of those who were part of Emily’s circle are still in Longbill, notably Dean Wexler, who drove Emily home the night of the party together with Nardo, a vicious and brutal character and Ricky – once Emily’s friend but who turned on her after Emily began to try and work out who had taken advantage of her at the party. Also still in town is Jack Stilton who was never quite part of the clique but who Emily liked and made time for. Then he was the son of brutal Police Chief Stilton, now Cheese as he was always called is Police Chief himself.
Girl, Forgotten is a dual timeline story told in Andrea’s present and Emily’s past. Dean Wexler it transpires now runs a fava bean farm but it’s clear that this operation is a front for what is clearly a cult populated with young women who are emaciated shadows of the young girls they must once have been.
As the danger to Judge Vaughan escalates, so does Andrea’s investigation into who killed Emily. This is a dark and chilling story with a deal of brutality and some shocking moments of tension and revelation. Karin Slaughter’s characterisation is excellent and I really enjoyed seeing Andrea transform from a helpless disempowered young woman into someone with growing confidence who is prepared to stand up for herself.
Emily’s story is a tough one to read and her mother comes across as a tough cookie whose ruthlessness allowed her to walk all over Emily while she made sure she made it to her judgeship despite her daughter’s disgrace.
Verdict: Karin Slaughter has done a fantastic job of depicting the characters in this town full of dark secrets and evil characters. It is great to see Andrea developing into someone who feels confident about themselves and their abilities and Girl, Forgotten is a terrific and propulsive read. There could well be a series in this character.
Karin Slaughter is the author of more than twenty instant New York Times bestselling novels, including the Edgar–nominated Cop Town and standalone novels Pretty Girls, The Good Daughter, and Pieces of Her. She is published in 120 countries with more than 40 million copies sold across the globe. Pieces of Her is a #1 Netflix original series starring Toni Collette, and False Witness, the Grant County, and Will Trent series are in development for television. Slaughter is the founder of the Save the Libraries project—a nonprofit organization established to support libraries and library programming. A native of Georgia, she lives in Atlanta.