Girl, Forgotten

Written by Karin Slaughter

Review written by Simon Toyne

Simon Toyne is the international bestselling author of Dark Objects, the Sanctus trilogy and the Solomon Creed series. He wrote Sanctus after quitting his job as a TV executive and it became the biggest selling debut thriller of 2011 in the UK. Visit for more information on Simon and his works.

Girl, Forgotten
Harper Collins
RRP: £20.00
Released: July 7, 2022

Girl, Forgotten, the latest thriller from global bestseller Karin Slaughter, is, at face value, a classic whodunnit. It starts, as many of Karin’s books do, with a murder. The victim, Emily Vaughan, a pregnant teen from a well-to-do but dysfunctional family, lives in Longbill Beach, an Everywhere-ville style beachside town, somewhere on the coast of Georgia. On her way to and from her High School prom – and also to her untimely end – we see Emily, her shame straining against the pastel chiffon of her prom dress, encounter various locals, all of whom subsequently become suspects in her death, but none of whom are found guilty – at least, not yet.


Jump forward forty years and Andrea “Andy” Oliver (who regular Karin readers will recognise from “Pieces of Her”), is sent to Longbill Beach as a freshly minted United States Marshall to protect a Judge who has been receiving death threats. The judge in question also happens to be the mother of Emily Vaughan, the murdered girl, and, as one of the suspects in her death was Nick Harp, the villain of the piece in “Pieces of Her” Andy is tasked with re-investigating the murder as a side project as the psychopathic Harp is due to be paroled and a fresh murder conviction would handily keep him in jail for a few decades longer, or maybe forever.


Without revealing too many spoilers for either “Pieces of Her” or this book, let’s just say keeping Nick Harp in prison is deeply personal for Andy, and she goes about her investigation with focus and verve, tracking down all the people who last saw Emily Vaughan alive, most of whom still live in the town and none of whom seem to have been able to get over her death.


The particular joy of this book is that you get two investigations for the price of one as the story switches between Andy’s modern investigation and a parallel one back in the eighties where Emily Oliver, inspired by Columbo, carries out her own inquiries to try and figure out who drugged her then got her pregnant at a party full of her closest friends. In both investigations our suspicions constantly switch from person to person, with the tension mounting as we fear that the same person who killed Emily Vaughan to avoid being outed as the date rape father of her child might also do the same to Andy forty years later.


As always with Karin’s books, the plot is as expertly crafted as you would expect, but it’s the keen sense of location and the complex interplay of the various characters that elevates this book above the crowd. Karin, a native Georgian, paints such an authentic and realistic picture of Longbill Beach through her skilful handling of place and the people who live there that you can almost feel the prickle of sweat on your back from the summer humidity as you’re reading. Karin is for Georgia as Stephen King is for Maine, both managing to both celebrate and illuminate the places they love through the examination of their darker sides. And you’ll love visiting Longbill Beach and poking your nose into the local secrets and shames to ultimately solve this small town mystery that casts such a long shadow over everything. Just watch your back, ok!?


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