Sister (Lupton) - Book Reviews

Book Reviews
A taut, hold-your-breath-and-your-handkerchief thriller.... Like Kate Atkinson, Patricia Highsmith and Ruth Rendell, Lupton builds suspense not only around the causes and details of her story's brutal denouement, but also around the personalities and motivations of those who lunge and those who duck.... Both tear-jerking and spine-tingling, Sister provides an adrenaline rush that could cause a chill on the sunniest afternoon.
Liesl Schillinger - New York Times

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

British author Lupton's unusual and searing debut is her heroine Beatrice Hemming's letter to her dead younger sister, Tess. Abandoned by their father just before their eight-year-old brother's death from cystic fibrosis and raised by their genteelly ineffectual mother, Bee and Tess have always exchanged long, intimate letters, so when Tess, an unmarried London art student, apparently commits suicide after her CF baby is born dead, Bee resigns her corporate design job in New York City and moves into Tess's shabby London flat. Convinced Tess was murdered, Bee gradually learns Tess had been spurned, like her unborn child, by her married art teacher lover; she had also been eerily pursued by a drugged-up slumming fellow student and mentally tortured by hallucinogenic drugs thrust on her by a masked stalker. Bee's self-defenses crumble as she discovers that she never returned Tess's anguished calls for help. Observing the unsettling similarities between her mother and her fiance, Bee realizes "why no one could be my safety rope." At the harrowing conclusion, Bee's aching heart accepts that "grief is love turned into an eternal missing."
Publishers Weekly

Written in the form of a letter from Beatrice, the older, more substantial sister, to her younger, bohemian sibling, Tess, the narrative reveals within the first few pages that Tess has gone missing and is found dead. Bea and Tess, even with a big age difference and an ocean between them, were incredibly close, so when Bea receives the "phone call," she drops everything and races from New York City to London. Although Tess's death is ruled a suicide, Bea knows her sister would never kill herself. As Bea frantically tries to find the murderer, in the process losing pieces of herself, the reader is catapulted into the search. Verdict: Beautifully written with an unexpected twist at the end, this debut literary thriller was a best seller in Britain and a Richard and Judy Book Club Pick. Thriller fans will eagerly await Lupton's next book. —Marianne Fitzgerald, Annapolis, MD
Library Journal

(Starred review.) 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.

Hitchcockian spookiness in this tale of two sisters—one living, one dead—in London. Beatrice Hemming hurries back to London from her home in New York when she hears her younger sister Tess is missing. Tess is an artist and a bit unpredictable, so it's not clear when (or whether) she'll turn up, but after a few days the police find her body in a public bathroom in Hyde Park. Not only that, but she had been pregnant and had just a few days before her death given birth to a stillborn child. Because Tess is found to have cuts on her arms and because her behavior had been erratic, her death is officially ruled a suicide arising from postpartum depression. But Bea is convinced Tess had been murdered. The prime suspect is Emilio Codi, Tess' art professor, a married man who got her pregnant and who made it clear he wants nothing to do with the child. Beatrice (or Bee, as her sister called her) decides to turn detective, and she does this in part by inhabiting Tess' former life. Bee lives in Tess' apartment, takes over Tess' waitressing job and even befriends someone who'd been involved with Tess in an experimental medical program during her pregnancy. Other suspects include a prominent doctor involved in this experiment to "cure" Tess' unborn child of cystic fibrosis, and the head of a biomedical company about to make a killing in the stock market for a cure for CF. But Bee finds deeper mysteries—for example, that Emilio is not a carrier of the CF gene and hence could not be the father of her child. Lupton's decision to make Bee the narrator—and to have her write to her dead sister—enhance the book's eeriness. A skillfully wrought psychological thriller.
Kirkus Reviews

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