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Sister: A Novel [Paperback]

Rosamund Lupton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Dec 20 2011

"Lupton enters the highly charged ring where the best psychological detective writers spar... Like Kate Atkinson, Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell… Both tear-jerking and spine-tingling, Sister provides an adrenaline rush that could cause a chill on the sunniest afternoon." —The New York Times Book Review
 
When her mom calls to tell her that Tess, her younger sister, is missing, Bee returns home to London on the first flight. She expects to find Tess and give her the usual lecture, the bossy big sister scolding her flighty baby sister for taking off without letting anyone know her plans. Tess has always been a free spirit, an artist who takes risks, while conservative Bee couldn’t be more different. Bee is used to watching out for her wayward sibling and is fiercely protective of Tess (and has always been a little stern about her antics). But then Tess is found dead, apparently by her own hand.

Bee is certain that Tess didn’t commit suicide. Their family and the police accept the sad reality, but Bee feels sure that Tess has been murdered.  Single-minded in her search for a killer, Bee moves into Tess's apartment and throws herself headlong into her sister's life--and all its secrets.

Though her family and the police see a grieving sister in denial, unwilling to accept the facts, Bee uncovers the affair Tess was having with a married man and the pregnancy that resulted, and her difficultly with a stalker who may have crossed the line when Tess refused his advances. Tess was also participating in an experimental medical trial that might have gone very wrong.  As a determined Bee gives her statement to the lead investigator, her story reveals a predator who got away with murder--and an obsession that may cost Bee her own life.

A thrilling story of fierce love between siblings, Sister is a suspenseful and accomplished debut with a stunning twist.


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Review

"Lupton enters the highly charged ring where the best psychological detective writers spar... Like Kate Atkinson, Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell… Both tear-jerking and spine-tingling, SISTER provides an adrenaline rush that could cause a chill on the sunniest afternoon." The New York Times Book Review

"You'll relish every twist and turn." People

"Eerie psychological mystery...With its loving portrayal of what it means to be a sister balanced by some impressively Hitchcockian twists, SISTER should appeal to fans of the character-driven mysteries of Kate Atkinson and Tana French." CSMonitor.com

"Elegantly suspenseful...a pulse-quickening cocktail of science fiction and whodunit, with a splash of literary poetics and poignancy."--NPR.org

“Gripping.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

"A psychological murder mystery written with a literary flair…Be prepared for page-turning.” Vanity Fair.com

“[A] fast-paced, absurdly entertaining novel....Along with a juicy mystery, it resounds with an authentic sense of sisterly love and loyalty.” —The Boston Globe 

"SISTER is an emotionally resonant and tightly drawn novel." —The Post and Courier

"Taut and tingling." Good Housekeeping

"A remarkable piece of work. Lupton shrewdly and compassionately peels back the story's rich layers." The Seattle Times

“For those of us with sisters, a reminder of how lucky we are.” —Pittsburgh Post Gazette

"A riveting and moving tale." —Houston Chronicle

“A winner, as worth reading for its psychological intensity as it is for its mystery plot, not to mention the genuinely surprising twist near the end.” —BookReporter

"A poignant and perceptive depiction of the emotional bonds between two sisters…The result is a superb thriller, full of twists and turns, false leads and a surprise ending—all seamlessly woven into a touching story of a sisterly bond." BookPage

"Gripping and haunting, this whodunit explores the powerful bond between sisters." —All You Magazine

"Lupton’s remarkable debut novel is a masterful, superlative-inspiring success that will hook readers (and keep them guessing) from page one…A chilling, gripping, tragic, heart-warming, life-affirming enigma of a story." —Booklist, starred review

"Beautifully written with an unexpected twist at the end...Thriller fans will eagerly await Lupton’s next book" —Library Journal, starred review

“Hitchcockian spookiness in this tale of two sisters. A skillfully wrought psychological thriller.” —Kirkus Reviews

"Truly marvelous! As compelling as it is stylish, SISTER exists in that rare place where crime fiction and literature coincide." —Jeffery Deaver 
 
"A compulsive thriller with genuine originality. Very clever, very surprising, very touching. I devoured it." —Louise Candlish

"Poignant and thrilling, this clever debut explores the fascinating bond between sisters, and haunts you with the power of their love." Chevy Stevens, New York Times bestselling author of Still Missing

"Intense and absorbing from the very first page, SISTER is as much a tender exploration of the complicated, twisty, messy love between sisters, as it is an utterly gripping and compelling thriller...A haunting and accomplished debut." Lisa Unger, New York Times bestselling author of Fragile

"Both beautiful and suspenseful, SISTER is an absolutely stunning debut.  The ending will leave you reeling." Alafair Burke, author of Long Gone

About the Author

ROSAMUND LUPTON lives with her husband and two sons in London. Sister is her debut novel.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Ingenious May 6 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The relationship between sisters had me locked in from the beginning even though I usually find murder mystery s not my thing.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't you dare skip ahead to the end.... Aug. 8 2011
By Luanne Ollivier #1 HALL OF FAME TOP 10 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
I took one book on vacation with me and Sister by Rosamund Lupton was it. Thank goodness I waited until I was on the train home to start it - I would not have been able to put it down. What an absolutely addicting read.

Sister is told as a past tense narrative in letter form by Bee to her younger sister Tess. We learn early on that
Tess is dead. Was it suicide? Everyone but Bee believes so. The account follows Bee's attempts to make sense of what had happened to Tess. She was so full of life - she couldn't have possibly chose to end it.

"You painted abstract canvases, expressing large truths in bold splashes of vivid color while I was perfectly suited to my job in corporate design, matching every color in the world to a Pantone number. Lacking your ability with broad brushstrokes I will tell you this story in accurate dots of detail. I'm hoping that as in a pointillistic painting, the dots will form a picture and when it is completed, we will understand what happened and why."

Lupton deliciously and slowly inserts details into every chapter, gradually filling us in on what has already happened. We learn that Bee is being interviewed by a lawyer and her statement recorded. What did Bee discover? What happened to Tess? What is happening to Bee? As the interviews continue over the course of several days, her health seems to be failing.

Sister is a fantastic mystery, but also a beautiful retrospective of the love between the two sisters. Lupton's prose are thoughtful, evoking emotion easily.

There were numerous suspects possible, but I am thrilled to say that I never saw the ending coming. Planning to read this one? DO NOT read the end first. Best. Twist. Ending. Ever.

This was a debut for Lupton - I will be hunting down her second book for sure.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant March 26 2011
By I LOVE BOOKS TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
This book belongs to one of my favourite genres (psychological thriller with a twist) and so, because I read so many, I am particularly fussy. Well, I could not have been more pleased with it. It has absolutely captured me from the very first line to the very last one. An engaging read written in letter form, from a sister to another.

Beatrice lives in New York with her fiancé. Her mother rings her up one day delivering shattering news: her younger sister Tess has vanished. The ties between sisters are very strong despite the geographical distance and of course Beatrice hops on the first plane out to London. The circumstances of Tess' disappearance are multi-layered with obscure details and Beatrice is determined to find Tess no matter what. Little does she know, boarding that plane, of the journey she will have to face, uncovering some horrible, painful and frightening facts that will forever change everybody's life.

This book deserves a high praise because it is not only engaging, it has a certain psychological depth that is seldom felt on fast-paced reads, no matter how entertaining. The vocabulary is stylish and cultured and it perfectly conveys emotions and feelings, entwined with the chilly, suspenseful atmosphere that permeates the story. It also defines the deep, deep love between the two sisters. Piercingly touching.

Thumbs up for debut writer Rosamund Lupton!
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed Feb. 5 2012
By scoobie
Format:Paperback
It was interesting and kept me reading until the writer revealed the detective she was speaking to throughout the story. At that point, I lost credibility in the writer and the story itself. Sorry, not one I would recommend.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  445 reviews
223 of 234 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling and deeply moving Sept. 9 2010
By Keris Nine - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
With a really good thriller novel, sometimes it's not so much the story as the way you tell it that gives it the credibility it needs. In Rosamund Lupton's Sister, the unexpected death of a young 21 year-old woman, Tess, initially promises an interesting but perhaps not exceptional case where her sister attempts to piece together the dead woman's actions and contemplate her state of mind in the days before her death - was it suicide or murder? What makes Sister fascinating reading however is the decision of the author to tell the story not only from the perspective of the dead woman's sister Beatrice, but to do so in the form of an open letter to Tess.

There are several benefits to this approach. On the one hand, it fully captures the sense of helplessness and loss that Beatrice feels. Having been separated by an ocean, Beatrice returns to London from her New York home to try to come to terms with what has happened and piece together what could have happened through her knowledge of her younger sister, relating those thoughts directly to Tess, but also to the prosecuting lawyer in preparation for a trial. This creates a fractured kind of narrative that gives some indication of what is going on in her mind, as well interweaving past and present and lending the intriguing suggestion that, with a court case pending, there is a lot more to uncover.

More than that, it lends immediacy to the writing that also brings you closer to Tess, as you come to understand her relationship with her sister and family, events from the past coming to mind that shed light on her character - small but significant events that lead Beatrice to conclude that she couldn't possibly have taken her own life. But how can she convince everyone else that this is the case? In passing then, Sister takes in issues related to women - and different types of women - taking in babies and childbirth, their relationships with families and with men - fathers, husbands and lovers. Actually, it's not even in passing, it's integral to the book and to its success as a crime thriller, the author brilliantly interweaving the story with real issues that do indeed mean life and death to people.

Most significantly, the structure of the novel and the first-person directness is such that it also makes the investigation and revelations genuinely suspenseful, keeping the reader guessing and then surprising them with some remarkable turn of events that make it much more than just a gimmick. This is Rosamund Lupton's first novel, having previously worked as a scriptwriter, but her ability to entertain, probe into characterisation, pace a thriller and find the most effective means of delivering it is remarkably assured, making this a thrilling and ultimately deeply moving novel.
62 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars masterful genre-blending mix May 19 2011
By Elvisettey - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
What a difficult novel to read, what a difficult novel to review. And I mean that as high praise for a work that is decidedly difficult to categorize.

Beatrice's younger sister, art-student Tess, has either committed suicide (official version) or been murdered (Beatrice's version) after giving birth to a stillborn child, who received a cutting-edge cystic fibrosis cure in utero. Bee flies home to England from New York, where she has been living, to cope with the aftermath of her sister's death. The story is a first-person narrative, delivered as if Bee is speaking across the space of death to her sister: apologizing, holding key facts back, rationalizing, explaining her own behavior, compensating-- in short, running through every human emotion and action that accompanies a severe shock and an immense grief. Bee's own process of self-discovery ties into her investigative process of the truth about her sister's death brilliantly: in finding the truth about her sister, Bee finds the truth about herself. Tess leads Bee to her own person through a twisting, winding path, and the journey is complex and wonderful.

As Bee breaks down everything that we supposedly know about her sister and everything she thought she knew about herself, she starts to build up new connections that she never would have thought possible: in the wake of death, Lupton shows us how we can rebuild life. Mothers, fathers, new friends, neighbors: all emerge as solidly-drawn portraits of the new people (or newly-realized) people in Bee's life, each with his or her own distinct personality, style of interaction, and way of dealing with death. Death affects so many, Lupton seems to say, but look how it brings us together, see how we all cope so variously, see how we can never afford to make trite generalizations about what happens when a life is taken away.

The literary, mystery, suspense, epistolary: they all combine beautifully here, masterfully mixed by Lupton, who takes the best from each genre as she strings the reader along on a page-turning journey. Highly recommended.
47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific read! May 3 2011
By K.Wagner - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Beatrice has moved to America from England. She has become
used to the distance both geographically, and emotionally,
from her sister Tess and their mother. She uses it as an excuse,
in fact. After all, she is busy with her career and her own life.
A phone call from her mother calls her back across the Atlantic
when she learns that Tess is missing. Tess, who was pregnant, and
struggling, has not been seen for far too long.

It would be unfair to suggest that it was only guilt that sent
Beatrice to the airport, because she did love her family, when
it wasn't too inconvenient. So, leaving life, career and fiance
behind, she arrived in England as soon as was humanly possible
after she received the call.

Before long, Bea realizes what she has been missing, while letting
her family get on without her all of this time. All of the love and
closeness to Tess comes flooding back. With it there is fear. She truly
did love Tess, and when she found her sister's body, could not believe the
verdict of suicide due to psychosis after after the death of her baby. Tess
would never kill herself, Bea was sure. Even after finding the body, and learning
that the baby Xavier had died, Bea felt something was being missed, and so she
set out to find the truth on her own.

What follows is a griping story, one that has you sure that you have
come to the end of the mystery, only to find that there is yet another twist.
By the time this breathtaking story concludes, you will be breathless with the
build up and the climax.

Don't miss this one.
75 of 87 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating but Flawed 3.5 stars May 13 2011
By Mr. August - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
It appears I am in the minority regarding the response to this novel. At first, I found the premise interesting. Beatrice, a young English woman, living in New York is contacted that her beloved sister in London has gone missing. Beatrice, the older sister, immediately flies into Heathrow and begins the arduous investigation of her younger sister's fate. The novel switches from second person with an internal letter to Tess the younger, missing sister, to a chronology of this search mixed with memories of their childhood and closeness in first person.

Beatrice moves into Tess' London flat, which is definitely sub-standard and the reader pieces together what happened to Tess. The official explanation is dismissed by Bea, which is a suicide of her younger sister. During this analysis of her sister's fate, we are introduced to the long-suffering mother, the brother who died from cystic fibrosis, Bee's finance, Todd, Tess' relationships with specific men and a large group of people who adore the beautiful, tolerant Tess. Bee, a successful art designer, leaves her job and pursues the exploration into the life of her sister. Here is where the plot becomes muddied and questionable. Bee, who often cannot pay cab fare, is able to buy two tickets for a flight to Poland, works in a low-end job in a pub/restaurant (her sister's job) but seems to spend every waking moment in the search for her sister's killer. There is a possible debatable issue if the events existed or was this a product of Beatrice's imagination and guilt?

If the events did not exist, there doesn't seem to be much point to the sub plot of the single-gene defect. There are many inconsistencies concerning hospital practice, the dual carriers of cystic fibrosis, the media clamoring for interviews with Bee (why was Tess front page headlines), resulting in a weak crime plot in contrast to the depiction of the female relationships of two daughters and the mother.

Taking this into account, I did not accept the ending as a shocking twist. The identity of the architect of this scheme was obvious. I don't believe the story was about the search for Tess but rather the redemption of relationships and Beatrice's progressive failing mental and physical health.
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inventive Gothic Thriller May 25 2011
By Kevin L. Nenstiel - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
When Beatrice learns that her beautiful, beloved sister has disappeared, she rushes home to London to lend a hand. But when the police find young Tess's body, everyone seems ready to accept her suicide. Everybody, that is, but Beatrice. While bureaucratic intransigence stands in her way, she leaves the rules behind and goes in search of the truth. Her discoveries blend romance, politics, and science in surprising and inventive ways.

As our first-person narrator, Beatrice creates an interesting relationship with herself and the truth. When everyone assures her that her pursuit of Tess's killer is a delusion, she has to nurture that delusion to unlock the truth. This selective blindness gives her a vivid personality, which contrasts with the other characters. The deeper she vanishes into this complex gothic network, the more others come to reflect aspects of her struggle.

This thriller relies on withheld information, in the best gothic tradition. Author Rosamund Lupton hits us with blindsides that take our breath away, yet seem obvious, even inevitable, in hindsight. Beatrice's intricate lattice of relationships keeps us on our toes, wondering from moment to moment whether she's delusional, or uniquely perceptive. And as we approach the climax, we realize, she's both. And so much more than that.

Beatrice careful peels back layer after layer to reveal a world of official corruption, unofficial witlessness, arrogance, and appetite. Her bleak, yet surprisingly tender, story kept me eager for the next page, never willing to relinquish the story, right up to the big reveal. Rosamund Lupton combines the heritage of Emily Brontë with Agatha Christie to create a novel that feels familiar, yet subtly unlike anything I've ever read before.
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