Author: Rosamund Lupton
Published: Crown; June 2011
Source: Personal copy
Synopsis: When the body of Beatrice’s beloved younger sister, Tess, is discovered in an abandoned building in Hyde Park and ruled a suicide, Beatrice knows the police have made a mistake. She’s certain her sister was murdered. Determined to uncover the truth, Beatrice impulsively begins to hunt for clues on her own. So begins Rosamund Lupton’s stunning debut, Sister, at once an engrossing thriller and a powerful meditation on the bonds of family. Writing her story as a letter to Tess, Beatrice gradually connects the strange, varied occurrences leading up to Tess’s death--Tess’s pregnancy; a trial drug from a pharmaceutical company; a man who may or may not have been a figment of Tess’s imagination. Beatrice’s former life falls apart as her search veers toward obsession, and she realizes she might pay a terrible price for the truth. An adrenaline-filled psychological thriller, Sister’s emotional impact comes from Lupton’s heartrending portrait of the love between Beatrice and Tess.
My Take: I don't read many mysteries or thrillers as a general rule. I scare easy and I don't want to have nightmares if I can possibly avoid it! However, I had been seeing this book around the blogosphere a lot and the reviews were all pretty positive and the concept certainly intrigued me enough to want to give it a try. Then my book club suggested it as our next book club read and I thought that this would be the perfect time. That's what book club is for, to push yourself out of your boundaries and read what you normally wouldn't. As so often happens, I ended up loving this book. And guess what, no nightmares!
I do not have a sister but that did not take anything away from my understanding of the special bond the two sisters in Lupton's engrossing debut novel shared. Beatrice and Tess were best friends. Separated by years and the Atlantic Ocean now, Tess lived in London and Beatrice in New York, they were still very involved in each other's lives. Beatrice was always the classic over protective straight laced older sister and Tess the cooky fun loving younger sister. Then one day their world is flipped on its side when Tess is found dead in an abandoned bathroom. Everyone believes it to be suicide, and the evidence certainly points in that direction, but Beatrice knows her sister intimately and knows she values life too much to have ever committed suicide. Thus the mystery of the whodunnit begins.
Beatrice's all engrossing need to find the killer of her sister was maniacal. When everyone else would have given up because there were no leads, Beatrice continued on. When even her own fiancee didn't believe her, Beatrice continued on. It was interesting to read and certainly heart-wrenching. The love she had for Tess and the guilt at letting this happen poured out of every page because the novel was concurrently written as a letter to Tess and an eye-witness statement for the murderer.
Did I guess who did it in advance? Of course not! I went down every other trail first! Whoops. But that's part of what made this such a fabulous book. Beyond the mystery was the familial bond. I look forward to seeing what Lupton does next.
Cover Lust: I love this cover! Both beautiful and haunting at the same time.