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 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.
Girl, Forgotten marks the return of Andrea Oliver from Pieces of Her who has barely finished her training as a US Marshal when she is sent to Longbill Beach to protect Judge Esther Vaughan, a federal judge, who has been receiving death threats. However, Andrea is also asked to surreptitiously look into the murder of Emily Vaughan, the judge’s daughter, who was killed forty years ago. Heavily pregnant at the time of her attack, Emily was kept on life support until the child could be safely born and Andrea is stunned to learn the baby may have been fathered by Clayton Morrow aka Nick Carp who just happens to be her own father. If Andrea can find evidence Nick was responsible for Emily’s murder, it would keep him behind bars.
I’m glad to say Andrea is a far more interesting character than in the previous book where I thought she was far too weak, however she has grown into her own person and is able to stand up more to her mother. Her relationship with Mike Vargas, who is a US Marshal and her mother’s handler, appears to be on the back burner but it is obvious she still loves him despite her determination to keep him at arm’s length. Andrea’s portrayal as a US Marshal is convincing because she is allowed to make mistakes but her potential is also very evident. I loved her partnership with Leonard ‘Catfish’ Bible who knows Andrea is keeping secrets from him but is savvy enough to give her space.
The story alternates between the present and the last few months of Emily Vaughan’s life where she conducts her own investigation into the identity of her baby’s father. Emily was drugged at a party that was only attended by her closest friends so the options are whittled down to 3 or 4 possible candidates. As Emily tries to piece together what happened that night, she realises these people were never really her friends and she has to endure some horrible bullying. None of Emily’s friends are shown in a positive light so we are left guessing the identity of not only her baby’s father but also the killer.
The storylines are juggled with Slaughter’s usual skill and I enjoyed reading both timelines which often showed the same people through a different lens. Andrea is led to another cult run by two men from Emily’s past and realises young women are being lured into working at an organic farm where they are eventually starved and used as sex slaves. Not all of the women believe they are victims though and it is a fascinating insight into how their minds have been manipulated. We don’t see much of the cult but it is obvious the story hasn’t finished. Andrea gets a call from her father at the end of the novel which sets us up for a third book in the series.
Since Pieces of Her was turned into a Netflix series, I can’t help thinking this book also had a made for television vibe to it.