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By Diane Chamberlain
Publication Date: 10/7/14
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
My Rating: 5 Stars
Diane Chamberlain’s upcoming THE SILENT SISTER is a riveting and suspense page-turner! As always, Chamberlain skillfully crafts a complex family drama mystery, with multi-generational rich characters— which does not disappoint.
A best-selling international author, (having read 22 of her books), you could say I’m a huge fan! After popular Necessary Lies, Diane returns with one sister’s shocking discovery (let’s make that plural), as there are many discoveries—one surprise, after another, keeping Riley the main character, second guessing everyone she thought, as family.
RILEY: Riley, (25 yrs. old), is currently living in Durham, NC as a school counselor and out of school for summer vacation. Her father died suddenly, a month earlier and now she is returning to her childhood home in the small town of New Bern, NC, as executrix. Her mom died of cancer shortly after Riley graduated from high school.
DANNY:Riley’s older brother Danny, has PTSD from the war in Iraq, lives in an RV Park in the forest in New Bern, disabled, and a time bomb ready to ignite at any moment –always angry. He is of no assistance, when sorting out the house and the affairs. He has a troubled past, a bad attitude, and a short fuse—with a loaded shotgun.
LISA: Lisa, a child prodigy and violinist, and the family favorite. This family’s world revolved around Lisa and her practice, concerts, and lessons. When Riley was only two years old, her older sister Lisa (17 yrs. old), committed suicide in the freezing Potomac River of Alexandria, Virginia—the body was never found. She left her five violins’ behind, and her most famous one- Violet.
After her death the family left Arlington, VA near DC, and moved to New Bern, NC to escape the rumors and start over. Since Lisa’s death, the family unit was destroyed with two grieving parents and a household full of secrets and lies. Danny dislikes Lisa, and felt she took the easy way out. He blames the parents as never discussed the grief or sent Danny to counselors. Riley was really too young to understand.
When Riley arrives in town, meets with the attorney to go over the will, she finds out her dad, has left them the family home, some insurance money, a RV park, and a house full of collections. Strangely, she discovers her dad was keeping a strange post office in another man’s name in Pollocksville, NC, plus he has an RV which contains bluegrass music, and all sorts of strange postcards, CDs and pictures with this unknown man’s name?
More surprises: At the reading of the will, she learns her dad left Thomas Kyle and his wife Verniece, longtime residents at her father’s RV Park, his expensive pipe collection. She visits them to give them the good news and finds these two are very strange. They really did not appreciate the offer, as they tell Riley her dad wanted them to have the entire RV Park ----worth like two hundred thousand! She also gets the feeling they are hiding something. She learns her dad has written a check for $500 a month to Tom at the RV for years?
In conversation, Verniece mentions they adopted their son, and her mom was instrumental in this effort, since Riley was adopted! What is she talking about? She is not adopted? Could this be true as there is a big difference in age between her and her older sister?
Wow, did her dad have a secret life? She also discovers her dad was with the US Marshalls Service, as well as Tom she knew nothing about. He also left in the will, ten thousand dollars and a grand piano to Jeannie Lyons, the real estate agent, and her mom’s oldest friend, from Asheville, NC---and Jeannie and her dad had been dating for years? She had no clue. Who are these people?
Since Barbara is a real estate agent and her daughter handles estate sales, they overwhelm her taking over her house and Riley wants them all to get out of her way. Riley discovers a box in her dad’s office with all sorts of articles and photos surrounding Lisa’s death---she gets another shocker.
Riley thought Lisa committed suicide due to being depressed, now she finds out her sister murdered her old violin instructor in cold blood in their family home and was about to go to trial and prison. (no wonder she committed suicide).
To further complicate matters, Tom and his wife, try to blackmail Riley with information about her sister’s death in order to get the RV Park. Lisa is not really dead! It was a set up to escape prison, as evidently she had help, since she was so young. Tom says there were two sets of footprints at the crime scene.
Who helped Lisa establish a new identity and escape? Where has she been for the last twenty some years? Why hasn’t she contacted her, and did her mom and dad know? Riley begins her own investigation trying to track down her sister with leads across the country. She seeks help from Jeannie, and will do anything to find her, as with no mom or dad and a distant brother ---she desperately needs her sister.
Unsure whom she can trust—she does not want to create suspicion as they will arrest her sister, if the authorities find her. However, this is only the beginning ----more secrets are uncovered. Why is Lisa the Silent Sister? What led up to the events leading to the murder?
As she is trying to find Lisa, Danny is hot on the trail to put Lisa away, as he thinks she deserves to be punished for killing a man. How will she find her with a new identity, and an assumed name?
As the suspense builds, will Riley learn about her own past, and get to Lisa before Danny or the authorities find her? Her father has led a secret life all these years; however, he still was unaware of the biggest secret of all, which may destroy Riley and Lisa.
Told from different POVs-- Riley and Lisa/Jade, a moving story of one family tragedy, and the desperate attempts to pick up the pieces.
Fans of Sarah Jio, Jodi Picoult, T. Greenwood, Emilie Richards, and Amy Hatvany, will enjoy Chamberlain’s THE SILENT SISTER, a fast- paced and engaging novel with highly-charged topics--- This mystery will keep you guessing until the end!