Rosamund Lupton: Sister (2010) A Great New British Thriller Writer

Nothing can break the bond between sisters …When Beatrice gets a frantic call in the middle of Sunday lunch to say that her younger sister, Tess, is missing, she boards the first flight home to London. But as she learns about the circumstances surrounding her sister’s disappearance, she is stunned to discover how little she actually knows of her sister’s life – and unprepared for the terrifying truths she must now face. The police, Beatrice’s fiance and even their mother accept they have lost Tess but Beatrice refuses to give up on her. So she embarks on a dangerous journey to discover the truth, no matter the cost.

That was a fast read. Even though this was a busy week and the novel had some 370 pages I read it in a few days. That certainly says something. I liked it a lot. The writing reminded me of Maggie O’Farrell. Should she ever choose to write a thriller, that’s what it could look like.

Sister is the story of  Tess and Beatrice, two sisters who are extremely close, even though the older one, Beatrice, lives in New York, while the younger, Tess, is still in London where she goes to an art school. When Beatrice gets the phone call from her mother saying her sister is missing she is highly alarmed and flies back to London immediately. When the sister is found dead and declared to be a suicide Bee – as her sister used to call her – is the only one who does not believe it was suicide. She is certain it was murder. And she won’t change her mind. No matter what the police, her mother or Tess’ psychiatrist say.

The story is told in part as if Beatrice was writing  a letter to her dead sister, telling her the whole story after the murderer has been found and arrested. In part she writes the letter, in part she tells the whole story to a lawyer. Consecutive flash backs. The story is also interspersed with dialogue between the sisters.  There are many red herrings as so many men who were in Tess’ life seem suspicious. The ending is quite a twist. That’s the only flaw I could find in this book. It seems a little bit artificial but then again it is not an improbable ending.

There are  many colorful characters in this novel. Art students, immigrants, doctors, scientists, policemen. The bond between those sisters is certainly the most important relationship in the book and it is very deep and moving. The story of their childhood is not an easy one which is another reason why they were so close. All through the novel Beatrice finds other people to relate to and some relationships like the one with her mother are completely transformed. Bee herself is also changed considerably. When the novel starts she is afraid of life, at the end she is ready to embrace and enjoy it.

Sister is Rosamund Lupton’s first book. The next should come out in 2011. I am already looking forward to reading it.