The Silent Sister

Early on Diane Chamberlain warns her character Riley Macpherson that “When someone dies unexpectedly the way your father did, they don’t have the chance to clean everything up. You know, erase sites he’s Googled or whatever. So don’t dig too deeply into his personal things. Don’t upset yourself.” The The Silent Sister wouldn’t be very interesting if Riley had listened to that advice. Instead Riley moves into her father’s home to help clear it out to sell. Her brother lives close to her dad’s house, but he’s messed up on alcohol and memories from childhood and wartime, so its up to Riley to deal with her father’s estate.

Quickly, Riley learns of a secret girlfriend her father had, her mom’s best friend. Apparently, after her mom’s death, her dad and Jeannie became good friends and then more. This is the first of many secrets that her dad kept, including that her dead sister was really alive and hiding. Lisa was a child prodigy who’s schedule ruled her family. She travelled, practiced, committed murder, and then drowned herself, supposedly. Riley believed that story her entire life and its only upon her father’s death that the story starts to unravel.

Riley is alone. No longer in a relationship, there’s no one in her life that she can confide in and she’s unsure who she can trust in her father’s world. Jeannie is intrusive. The Kyle’s, who live at her father’s RV park, seem nice and confide more about her father than they probably should, like that Riley’s adopted. Another blow to Riley’s world. Her sister died or disappeared more than 20 years ago. Her mother died 7 years ago. Now her dad is gone and her brother’s lost. And it might be true that this wasn’t even her biological family.

Riley is determined to uncover the truth in her family. Why would her sister murder her violin teacher? How did she fake her own death and then escape? She was only 17 when she left. In Riley’s lonely world, the search for her sister becomes the link that holds her together. Diane Chamberlain shows how crazy family ties can be, but at the same time they’re all someone has.

This was a great read! Thoroughly engaging with so many twists along the way.

Read February 2015

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