Rating: 3.5 stars
Source: ‘Borrowed’ from a friend
Published: by Piatkus Books in September 2010
What the blurb said:
Nothing can break the bond between sisters …When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister’s life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face. The police, Beatrice’s fiance and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.
What I would say:
I don’t normally read thrillers or ‘proper’ mysteries because, like I’ve said a lot, I’m a wimp. This was recommended to me, though, as “something a bit different” so I gave it a try one unpleasant and windy afternoo…and was unexpectedly hooked! And it was dark and tempestuous without being too scary – winner!
As I think I might have said when I started reading this book, everything about it is raw and jagged. The novel is told exclusively from the perspective of Beatrice in the form of a letter to her younger sister, Tess, peppered with memories of shared moments and conversations. The tone is impeccable – every moment of guilt, breath of horror and feeling utter devastation is portrayed painfully realistically and it imbues the story with a unique sense of perpetual anguish, completely unlike other novels of this genre I have read.
Even through all of the emotion and the pain, this book manages to also be a celebration of the relationship between sisters and it was this that made it for me. In places, the memories and illustrations of this bond are beautiful and are used both to soften the tone and provide hope or to strengthen the sense of loss. I have a younger sister myself and am extremely protective towards her, much like Beatrice – identifying with the narrator in that way made for very compelling reading! I’m sure that enjoyment of the story doesn’t depend on that but it certainly heightened it for me.
The only real negative for me was that the story dawdled slightly through the middle and could have done with being wriggled on a touch. From the point where one of the twists becomes a little bit apparent, it takes marginally too long for our narrator to twig. I know, I’m being picky. This is probably in large part due to my lack of experience in this genre. It also touches on some of the same themes (for example, the girls’ relationships with their mother) just a couple of times too many which can feel a bit repetitive.
Finally, there are a couple of great twists in the plot towards the end (one I kind of saw coming and one I didn’t) which keep you guessing and hopelessly engrossed until the last page.
And yes, I did cry. As per usual.
Overall: Not everything about this book is easy to read but it’s quite the emotional journey and I would recommend it to fans of thrillers/mysteries with a not too sensitive disposition! It’s a great and moving read for a blustery, moody day (suiting the current season perfectly, if you’re in the ever-autumnal north of England that is…)!