My Sister’s Grave is a riveting read, except for …

My sister's grave book review

What is this about?: The search for the truth behind Sarah Crosswhite’s murder. Tracy Crosswhite, her sister, is willing to do anything to find her killer.

What else is this about?: An examination of a family torn apart, and Tracy’s guilt at being the one left behind, and the one to let her sister drive home alone that fateful night.

Blurb

Tracy Crosswhite has spent twenty years questioning the facts surrounding her sister Sarah’s disappearance and the murder trial that followed. She doesn’t believe that Edmund House — a convicted rapist and the man condemned for Sarah’s murder — is the guilty party. Motivated by the opportunity to obtain real justice, Tracy became a homicide detective with the Seattle PD and dedicated her life to tracking down killers.

When Sarah’s remains are finally discovered near their hometown in the northern Cascade mountains of Washington State, Tracy is determined to get the answers she’s been seeking. As she searches for the real killer, she unearths dark, long-kept secrets that will forever change her relationship to her past — and open the door to deadly danger

Stars: 3/5

My Sister’s Grave follows Tracy Crosswhite, Seattle’s first female homicide detective as she tries to find out the truth behind her sister’s death. Twenty years ago after a shooting match, Tracy let Sarah, her younger sister, drive home alone, while she went off to dinner with her boyfriend.

The next morning her father calls her from Hawaii where he is on holiday with his wife, to explain her truck has been found abandoned by an old road and no one can find Sarah. Thus begins her twenty-year nightmare.

The author follows two timelines: the present, where once Sarah’s remains are finally found after twenty years, Tracy has the evidence to prove the man in jail for her death, Haus, might be innocent. She has been convinced of that since he was arrested, and wants to find the real killer. Tracy convinces Dan, an old friend and now lawyer, to help her prove her theory that Sarah’s killer is still out there.

The second timeline is the one set in the past, that shows us the relationship between Sarah and Tracy, and Dan too as kids, and fast friends in a small town.

As the present timeline continues however, is where characterisation gets… iffy.

When the book starts, Tracy has been consumed by Sarah’s murder – and then her father’ s subsequent suicide and her mother… well, she’s pretty much non-existant in this story. Tracy gave up being a school teacher, and lost her marriage because she was so obsessed with Sarah’s murder and convinced that the discrepancies in the investigation mean only one thing: Haus is innocent and Sarah’s killer is still out there.

The romance while it is pleasant in a book focused on murder, weirded me out. The day Sarah’s remains are buried, Dan comes to the funeral and Tracy kind of checks him out… by all means, check someone out during a funeral, but if it’s your sister’s funeral and you’ve been waiting twenty years to bury her… this didn’t sit right with me.

With Dan, Tracy follows his lead in the courtroom, and rightly so because it’s his domain. What I would have liked to have seen more of is her in her element, as a cop and homicide detective, which may come in later books, but wasn’t really present all that much in this one.

Dugoni conveys how much Sarah’s disappearance destroyed the town and her family, and I absolutely felt for her, for her quest to put her sister to rest.

And then the ending happened

It undermined Tracy’s characterisation completely. I thought it made her look foolish and inept. The author tried to explain it away, but it just didn’t work for me. Sure it’s a bit of twist I guess, but those should not come at the expense of the main character, in a book where pretty much everything worked well. Damn.

12 Comments

  • This is why I get annoyed with romance in my books. At a funeral I think the last thing you’re doing as you bury your sister is checking out guys! Same in the zombie apocalypse…I’m too busy trying to stay alive to care about chasing men!

    • Verushka says:

      It was such a clumsy insertion of the beginning of the romance — especially as the rest of it was perfectly fine and worked well.

  • Jen Mullen says:

    I read this one in 2012 and felt much the same way. I have avoided Robert Dugoni books ever since–which is probably not fair, but the book annoyed me. :\

    • Verushka says:

      There are so many good elements in this I thought, but some choices I really didn’t understand. Maybe it does get better after this, but yeah — annoyed.

  • I’m always interested when a book has two timelines. But the whole Tracy checking out Dan thing during her sister’s funeral does seem really weird. I’m curious about the ending now though.

    • Verushka says:

      There are good elements in this, but some choices really puzzled me and didn’t work for me. I think it might get better after this one, or so I hope at least!

  • bookworm says:

    That’s too bad this was a letdown, the premise sounds intriguing. I agree, checking someone out at the sisters funeral is a no-no.

    • Verushka says:

      The premise was intriguing, but I couldn’t completely forget that beginning. I don’t even know why there had to be a romance rightaway — they could have worked on the case together, falling love and ended in a romance.

  • Ugh to checking someone at a funeral. That would not sit well with me either. It’s a shame the characterization got all weird because the overall premise of the book sounds so good.

    • Verushka says:

      It was — and I don’t know why the romance *had* to happen int his book. Them working together is really quite good and it could have worked as just them falling in love over the course of this book.

  • Kelly says:

    You had me up until the romance aspect. When you have a highly emotional mystery thriller, why oh why do we need an awkward and slightly disturbing romance. It clearly could have waited until after old wounds begin to heal. It reminds me of the old psychological test about how one woman meets a man at her mother’s funeral then kills her own sister, why? So she can see the same man again. This is one I would have really enjoyed apart from that ending, which has turned me off completely. Damn. Considering what you know now, would you still read it knowing how it ended? Sorry this was slightly disappointing for you Verushka but brilliant review darling! ♡♡♡

    • Verushka says:

      You know, I don’t know — probably not. Tracey and the promise in her character and her sister’s case was what attracted me to it. The relationship didn’t need to be in this — it all could have worked just as well had the romance just simmered in the background while they worked together to solve the case and the book ended with the promise of a romance. But if I knew the ending beforehand, I probably would not have read it. That was just a weird choice.

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