Title: Pretty Guilty Women
Author: Gina LaManna
Published: September 24th 2019
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Crime, Mystery
Rating: 3 stars
Why would four women confess to the same murder? Only they know the answer – and they’re not telling. A sharp, twisty and utterly addictive thriller, perfect for fans of Liane Moriarty and Liv Constantine.
You are cordially invited to the wedding of the year . . .
Pretty Guilty Women is the latest salacious read from Gina LaManna, a USA Today bestselling author with over thirty novels to her name. Pretty Guilty Women represents LaManna’s first foray into the domestic women’s fiction sphere. Pretty Guilty Women is a novel defined by plenty of chaotic drama, secrets, strained relationships and murder.
Four friends from college descend on the spectacular Serenity resort and spa, nestled on the Californian coastline. They have gathered to celebrate the wedding of a friend, but this event of the year is marred by a murder that takes place at the luxurious resort complex. All four women put up their hand to having murdered the man. Each states that they acted alone and not in unison. As the investigation begins, secrets held by each of the foursome is revealed. One is plagued by family problems, another leaves behind a trail of broken relationships, one has a suspect reputation that immediately draws suspicion, while the last of this friendship circle believes that her wealth will get her out of trouble. Gina LaManna’s latest book is about secrets, lies, revelations, deception and complicated relationships.
I am always a little suspicious of novels that make great claims on the front cover. Pretty Guilty Women features a tag sticker which states that this book is ‘Perfect for fans of LIANE MORIARY’. I could immediately see some parallels between Pretty Guilty Women and a couple of Moriarty’s books, Big Little Lies and Nine Perfect Strangers. However, where Moriarty has carved out her own niche in the publishing world with an original narrative and genuinely interesting characters, I have to say Pretty Guilty Women didn’t quite share these traits.
I was initially pulled right in to Pretty Guilty Women. The opening was intriguing and I immediately began to form some theories around the mystery aspect of the novel. I liked the formatting of Pretty Guilty Women. LaManna divides her time between the four female friends, so we learn about the state of affairs in each woman’s life. As the book progresses and secrets are exposed, we discover that each woman has their own problems.
Distributed throughout the shifting perspectives of the main characters are interviews and police transcripts. It is perplexing having all four women solely confessing to a murder and this becomes the central aspect of the novel, which the reader unpacks alongside the dogged detective assigned to this shady case. I appreciated this altered mode of delivery, it offset the narrative and provided a different approach to a traditional linear narrative.
My issue with Pretty Guilty Women seemed to brew from the characters. Each seemed to blend into the other. At times I had to think hard about who was who and what issues they were dealing with. I didn’t find much to like about any of them and I wasn’t completely invested in their long running relationship either. With my inability to draw a decent connection with these women, I became distracted and in the end, I didn’t really care about their fate. However, I will say something compelled me to stay with this narrative. I have a feeling that it was my desire to discover the identity of the culprit. But even this revelation seemed to fall a little flat.
While some aspects worked for me, Pretty Guilty Women was just an average read for me. It was evenly paced which would make it a good holiday read.
Pretty Guilty Women by Gina LaManna was published by Hachette Australia on September 24th 2019. $32.99.
To learn more about the author of Pretty Guilty Women, Gina LaManna, visit here.