Intriguing Mystery About Family

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Sure, The Half-Sister might feel more like a family drama with some mystery and excitement rather than a true psychological thriller, but I still had a great time with it. In fact, Despite it being less pulse-pounding and breathtaking as the last Sandie Jones novel I read (The First Mistake), I might have actually enjoyed this one more, because nothing makes me turn the pages than juicy lies, gossip, and scandal.

The story alternates between the POVs of two sisters, Kate and Lauren. Older by a couple years, Lauren is more down-to-earth, introverted, and practical—even more so ever since getting married and having three kids. In contrast, Kate is bolder, more hot-headed and ambitious, which has served her well in her career as an investigative reporter always hunting for the next big story. However, Kate also has a secret pain: for years now, she and her husband Matt have been desperately trying to have a baby, but without success. She envies her sister and her big happy family. Despite her lucrative job and glamorous life, Kate would give it all up if it meant being able to hold her own child in her arms.

But what Kate doesn’t know, is that that her sister is actually deeply unhappy. Lauren is married to Simon, a total cad who has become more abusive and controlling as the years go by. She had to put her own career on hold in order to take care of their three children, and wishes her life was as carefree and glitzy as Kate’s. Needless to say, the sisters don’t really have the best relationship. In fact, they haven’t been close since they were children, and the gulf has only widened since their father Harry died a few months ago. Kate, who was especially close to him, took his death hard. Still, the two sisters decided to continue keeping the tradition of meeting at their mom’s house every Sunday for dinner. Except during their most recent get-together, their meal was interrupted by an unexpected visitor. A young woman, introducing herself as Jess, claims to be Harry’s daughter and Lauren and Kate’s half-sister. Plus, she insists she has the DNA evidence to prove it.

Ever loyal to their father, Kate refuses to believe he could have fathered a secret child outside of his marriage. She thinks Jess must be mistaken, or trying to pull some scam on them. But Lauren, who doesn’t remember Harry through rose-colored glasses like her sister does, actually thinks it could be possible. While she might not have been as close to their father, Lauren knew things about him no one else did—and what he was capable of.

Although I enjoyed this one, I can see it not working out for a lot of thriller fans. Truth be told, calling it a thriller might even be a stretch. The pacing wasn’t fast (though to be fair, it wasn’t slow either) and I think the overall mystery was a bit forced, considering the matter could have been put to rest with a simple solution. The characters’ actions also felt contrived, written to create conflict rather than to reflect their actual personalities.

Still, the book was fun to read. And fast, despite sections of repetitiveness watching Kate and Lauren go back and forth on what to do about Jess. It’s a mystery that sucked me in as well, I confess. Kate is an especially talented sleuth, putting her investigative journalism skills to good use digging up anything she can find on the woman claiming to be her half-sister. She’s definitely the stronger of our two POVs, both in terms of personality and her storyline. In contrast, most of the interest in Lauren’s POV felt manufactured, like her chance encounter with an old flame, or her surreptitious outings with Jess.

But one thing I will say for the story is that it ended well. While it may have been sudden, for what the resolution required, I think it wrapped up with just the right tone. Sorry for being vague, but that’s the nature of the genre.

In conclusion, The Half-Sister is not without its flaws, but it did its job. If what you’re looking for is true thriller, it might not be as satisfying, but as a gripping tale about one family coming to terms with its dark history of secrets and lies, it kept me entertained.