A debut novel of domestic suspense in the vein of Liane Moriarty, Shari Lapena and Claire Douglas about two sisters bound together by a murderPenny and Hattie have always only had each other—their father left long ago and their mother died in a sudden tragic accident. Penny has always watched out for Hattie, even when she felt usurped by her younger, more vivacious sibling. When Penny’s marriage turns sour and her once-charming husband becomes controlling and abusive, who does she turn to for help but Hattie? An unguarded cigarette, helped along by a few conveniently lit matches and some sleeping pills, creates a deadly fire that frees Penny from an unimaginable life, but not without a cost. The weight of their secret binds the two sisters together, for better or worse. When a new man enters their lives, the twists deepen and the secrets compound. Meanwhile, incidents of arson begin to break out locally and the detective who investigated the death of Penny’s husband develops renewed interest in the case, threatening to unravel all their secrets.
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Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Sister of Mine by Laurie Petrou is a 2018 Crooked Lane publication.
A sister can be seen as someone who is both ourselves and very much not ourselves- a special kind of double. -Toni Morrison
This book explores a much more complicated sisterly relationship than most, which creates a taut, atmospheric environment, with tension building and building, finally reaching a riveting breaking point.
Penny’s husband becomes abusive which, in total desperation, causes her to pull her younger sister, Hattie, into a scheme to rid herself of him before he kills her.
While it appears as though their plan has gone off without a hitch, the relief they are expecting never materialized. Instead, they have traded one unbearable situation for another, as the dynamic between the sisters begins to shift, slowly at first, but becoming more pronounced as time passes. However, as sisters, they are bound together by their terrible secret.
But, when a private investigator takes an interest in the case the tension becomes even more miserable. In addition, Hattie tries to move on with her life by marrying and trying to start her own family, which creates an atmosphere akin to a pressure cooker.
Will Penny and Hattie ever find peace? Will their sins finally catch up with them?
This book is marketed as a domestic thriller. It does fit into that category, but not in the traditional sense. There is a crime, but we know, beginning with the first chapter, who is murdered, why, and how. The suspense comes from the aftermath, and it’s not so much a cat and mouse game, although that element does factor in, but the sense of foreboding that hangs in the air, that feeling that something is about to implode or explode, and when it does, it won’t be pretty.
In some ways this book is an interesting character study as well as a complex exploration of sisterly bonds and duty, which can be as mysterious and complex as the mother/daughter relationship.
The rivalry is paralleled by the sacrifices one makes for the other, and the loyalty that was once more freely given, that is now forced.
It’s a strange, almost claustrophobic feeling at times, but the author did an amazing job at developing the suspense with precision timing and pacing. Once all is said and done, it seems to me this novel defies classification. The story is as much of a family drama as it is a thriller. The 'for fans of' Liane Moriarty comparison is a bit of a stretch, in my opinion, but, overall, this is a nice, fresh, and original debut novel.
I appreciated the unique take on sisterhood, and the interesting approach to the domestic thriller trope. This was quick and easy read for me, but it took me by surprise, in a good way.
This is an author I’d like to hear from again.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Author, Professor, PhD, drinker of tea.
Most of my adventures take place inside books. I am, I think, part Hobbit: I love my books, my armchair, my garden... but I am not at all stealth (was once described as a Clydesdale for the way I clomp around the house).
My 2nd book, Sister of Mine, won the inaugural Half the World Award, and was released in Canada in April, 2018 with HarperCollins and in August 2018 with Crooked Lane Books. I cannot wait for you to read it