Saturday, August 25, 2018

JUST OUT! Karin Slaughter''s "Pieces of Her" Now Out! Extraordinary!


"I'm showing you this because it's already on the news." She swiped at the screen. "One of the patrons in the diner decided that it was more important to record what was happening on his cell phone than to call 911 or run for his life."
She turned the phone around. The image was paused. Jonah Helsinger stood at the entrance to the restaurant. The lower half of his body was obscured by a trash can. "The mall was empty behind him. From the angle, Andy knew the waitress standing in the back had not taken the video. She wondered if it was the man with the newspaper. The phone had been tilted to hide the fact that he was recording the weird kid who was dressed like the villain from a John Wayne movie.
Objectively, the hate was ridiculous; too large for Helsinger's head, stiff on the top and curled up almost comically.
Andy might have filmed him, too.
Palazzolo said, "This is pretty graphic. They're blurring the images on the news. Are you okay to see this?" She was talking to Gordon because, obviously, Andy had already seen it.
Gordon smoothed down his mustache with his finger and thumb as he considered the question. Andy knew he could handle it. He was asking himself if he really wanted to see it.
He finally decided. "Yes."
Palazzolo snaked her finger around the edge of the phone and tapped the screen.
At first, Andy wondered if the touch had registered because Jonah Hebsinger was not moving. For several seconds, he just stood there behind the trash can, staring blankly into the restaurant, his ten gallon hat high on his shiny-looking forehead.
Two older women, mall walkers, strutted behind him. One of them clocked the western attire, elbowed the other, and they both laughed.

Muzak played in the background. Madonna's "Dress You Up." Someone coughed. The tinny sound vibrated into Andy's ears, and she wondered if she had registered any of these noises when they happened, when she was in the restaurant telling the waitress she was a theater major, when she was staring out the window at the waves cresting in the distance.
On the screen, Helsinger's head moved to the right, then the left, as if he was scanning the restaurant. Andy knew there was not much to see. The place was half-empty, a handful of patrons enjoying a last cup of coffee or glass of tea before they did errands or played golf or, in Andy's case, went to sleep.
Helsinger stepped away from the garbage can.
A man's voice said, "Jesus."
Andy remembered that word, the lowness and meanness to it, the hint of surprise.
The gun went up. A puff of smoke from the muzzle. A loud pop.
Shelley was shot in the back of the head. She sank to the floor like a paper doll.
Betsy Barnard started screaming.
The second bullet missed Betsy, but a loud cry said that it had hit someone else.
The third bullet came sharp on the heels of the second.
A cup on the table exploded into a million pieces. Shards flew through the air.
Laura was turning away from the shooter when one of the pieces lodged into her leg. The wound did not register in her mother's expression. She started to run, but not away. She was closer to the mall entrance than to the back of the restaurant. She could've ducked under a table. She could've escaped.
Instead, she ran toward Andy.
Andy saw herself standing with her back now turned toward the window. Video-Andy dropped her coffee mug. The ceramic splintered. In the foreground, Betsy Barnard was being murdered. Bullet four was fired into her mouth, the fifth into her head. She fell on top of her daughter.
Then Laura tackled Andy to the ground.
She patted her hands down the same way she used to tuck Andy into bed at night. The man in black, Jonah Lee Helsinger, had a gun pointed at Laura's chest. In the distance, Andy could see herself. She was curled into a ball. The glass behind her was spider-webbing. Chunks were falling down...

Mother. Hero. Liar. Killer,

                                                            How can you tell when all you have is... 

Pieces of Her                                                                      
By Karin Slaughter

It's August, 2018, and a young girl who was enjoying lunch with her mother, was suddenly in the midst of a shooting spree! Her mother had met a woman and her daughter who she knew and had stopped to talk. In the meantime, a young man, dressed all in black like a villain in a western movie, had come into the restaurant, looked around, and took aim. The first to go down, and the second, were the woman and her daughter with whom her mother had been talking!

Andrea had walked away from the conversation, but was knocked against the window and now on the floor...Her mother was running away from the two bodies who were now at her feet. She ran toward her daughter--she was not going to allow anything to happen to her daughter. Not now, now ever... 

This extraordinary book is a fascinating thriller, but also an extraordinary psychological suspense novel that continues to drop climatic events for readers that sometimes shock, sometimes horrify, but mostly just pulls you into a continuous tension of highs and lows as each "piece" of the main character is revealed... If you are a reader like me, it will be an exhilarating experience for you to read the story, while, in the back of your mind, realizing that you...yes, you, the reader, are realizing that there are also pieces of you that are always kept hidden, while others are slowly shared, and still others sometimes sets you off into a rage that you can't seem to handle, while at the same time, you love so deeply that you hate what you become because of the need for that love, that individual, who sometimes you also hate...  And that is our main character! Any pieces of yourself seen???!

Moving from the present into the past, during the same summer months, but in 1986... We have just read of another incident where murder took place, this time in Oslo where a shooting had occurred, and a woman had been kidnapped...

Jane Queller woke in a cold sweat. She had been crying in her sleep again. Her nose was raw. Her body ached. She started shaking uncontrollably. Panic made her heart shiver inside of her chest. In the semi-darkness, she thought she was back in Berlin, then in the Oslo hotel room, then she realized that she was in her childhood bedroom inside the Presidio Heights house. Pink wallpaper, Satin pink duvet and pillows. More pink in the rug, on the couch, the desk chair. Posters and stuffed animals and dolls.
Her mother had decorated the room because Jane did not have time to do it herself. From the age of six, almost every waking moment of Jane's life had been spent in front of the piano. Tinkering. Practicing. Playing. Learning. Performing. Touring. Judging. Failing. Recovering. Coaxing. Succeeding. Mastering.
In the early days, Martin would stand behind Jane while she played, his eyes following the notes, his hands on her shoulders, gently ressing when she made a mistake. Pechenikov had requested Martin abandon his post as a condition of taking on Jane as a student, but the tension of Martin's presence had shadowed her career. Her life. Her triumphs. Her failures. Whether she was in Tokyo or Sydney or New York, or, even during her three months of isolation in Berlin, Jane could always feel an invisible Martin hovering behind her.
Janes shivered again. She glanced behind her, as if Martin might be there. She sat up and pressed her back against the headboard. She pulled the sheets around her.
What had they done?

Jane had sat and had tea and talked music that evening right before the conference, and the panel her father, Martin, would lead. The woman she had introduced to herself was a well-known speaker who was also on the panel. As they chatted Jane asked Alex if she had ever met her father. Jane and Alex smiled at each other knowingly...Alex had written a paper in opposition to her father's work...and Jane couldn't wait to see her father's face when he discovered Alex was a woman...

Now her father was dead, Alex had killed him in the middle of an argument, on stage, in front of the audience... Jane had been sitting on the front row of the audience and saw what the gunshots had done to Martin Queller, a man she had both loved...and hated...

The present time period, this month, in 2018, finds Andrea (Andy) and her mother dealing with the aftermath of the mall shooting, where the shooter, who had just killed, we find later, his ex-girlfriend and her mother, now turns toward Andrea. She wears her uniform as a 911 operator and is mistaken for an officer. He goes after her, and immediately, Laura, her mother who has run to help her daughter, steps in to confront the young man... Normally, this would have been a case of self-defense, but the young boy is a member of an influential family...and the way in which Laura killed the boy becomes questionable.

As the tape showing Laura killing the boy, runs over and over on ever channel, Andrea begins to wonder...Who is this woman who, in this strange, aggressive manner, was able to distract and kill the young boy? This is compounded by Laura, upon release from the hospital, immediately requesting that Andrea leave her home and find an apartment, as had been discussed in the past... But, why now??? Only after another dangerous incident occurs does Andrea go on the run--she wants to find out who her mother is. What she discovers is, well, quite amazing!

Slaughter is known for having chosen a topic--violence and women-- decades ago and has garnered a wide fan base for both her magnificent writing and for her psychological assessments and real-life situations for which she is well-known and loved... If you haven't read any of her books yet, you may want to click over to see my reviews of Fallen and Unseen. She's a favorite author for me and, as I've cut back on accepting new requests, I hope to be able to spend some time and share the books of Karin and my other favorite authors...

Yes, many of us have secret parts of our lives that we keep deep within us, but when that past invades the present--and "they" are still looking for you from the past--it becomes a dangerous cat-and-mouse chase. For readers, it is almost impossible to separate out the characters as to who can and cannot be trusted. The villain characters are, well, simply, very frightening, and soon are recognized as what they really were--a cult of terrorists who have been led by a charismatic leader to believe only what their leader says... And that's a very scary thing that still is happening in the present--in reality! Many are saying this is her best...I would agree. The thrills are there, but the topic underlying the impact of some men in the lives of some women, is, as the author and publisher says, "unfortunately all too common..." It's time to start reading Karin Slaughter! Start with this one, Just Out! I Loved It!


Nick walked around to her side of the table. Laura didn't flinch this time. He wrapped his fingers lightly around her arm and gently pulled. "It's the least you can do for me. I promise I won't ask for anything else."
Laura let him pull her up to standing. She reluctantly walked toward the piano. Her nerves were shot through with adrenaline. She was suddenly terrified...
"Come now, don't be shy." Nick had blocked the guard's view. He pushed her down on the bench so hard that she felt a jarring in her tailbone. "Play for me, Jinx."
Laura's eyes had closed of their own accord. She felt her stomach clench. The ball of fear that had lain dormant for so long began to stir...He dug his fingers into her shoulders. "I said play something for me."
She forced open her eyes. She looked at the keys. Nick was standing close, but not pressing against her. It was his fingers biting into her shoulders that fully awakened her old fear.
"Now," he said.
Laura raised her hands. She gently placed her fingers on the keys but did not press them. The plastic veneer was worn. Strips of wood showed like splinters.
"Something jaunty," Nick told her. "Quickly, before I get bored."
She wasn't going to warm up for him. She didn't know if there was any value in trying. She considered playing something specifically for Andy--one of those awful bubblegum bands that she loved. Laura didn't have anything classical left in her fingers. Then she remembered that smoky bar in Oslo, her conversation with Laura Juneau, and it came to her that things should end up where they had started.
She took a deep breath.

She walked the bass line with her left hand, playing the notes that were so familiar in her head. She vamped on the E minor, then A, then back to E minor, then down to D, then the triplet to punches on the C before hitting the refrain in the major key, G to D. then C, B7 and back to the vamp on E minor.
In her head, she heard the song coming together--Ray Manzerek mastering the schizophrenic bass and piano parts, Robby Krieger's guitar, John Densmore coming in on the drums,
Love me two times, baby...
"Fantastic," Nick raised his voice to be heard over the music..."My Darling."
Nick's mouth was at Laura's ear.
She tried not to shudder. She had known it would come to this. She had felt him hovering at her ear so often, first during their six years together, then in her dreams, then in her nightmares. She had prayed if she could only get him to the piano, he wouldn't be able to resist...
His thumb stroked the side of her neck. He thought the piano was canceling out his voice. "Are you still afraid of being suffocated?"...

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