Riley Macpherson has returned to her childhood home to deal with her father, Frank’s, estate after his death. She’s in a vulnerable state, overwhelmed by the numerous things she has to attend to in settling the estate, and feeling alone in her grief, with no one left to turn to for comfort. She’s recently ended a two year relationship that was going nowhere. Her older brother, an emotionally distant, psychologically-damaged Iraq war veteran named Danny, wants nothing to do with any of it, due to the strained relationship he had with their father. Cancer had taken her mother seven years ago, and child-prodigy violinist Lisa, the older sister she never knew, committed suicide when Riley was less than two years old. At twenty five years old, Riley feels as if she’s lost her entire family.
At the reading of Frank’s will, Riley discovers things she never knew, such as his former employment as a U.S. Marshall . Frank’s bequests to Jeannie Lyons (her mother’s best friend), and Tom and Verniece Kyle (long-time residents at his RV park) were surprises, as well. When Riley, as executrix of the estate, informs them of their bequests, she gets the distinct impression that they all expected something more from her father. If that wasn’t mysterious enough, she finds out that Frank and Jeannie were involved in a relationship her never told her about, and Verniece seems certain that Riley was adopted, even though she knows she wasn’t.
Jeannie, a real-estate agent, offers to help her with the sale of the house and RV park, pressing Riley to let her come over and look around to figure out what needs to done with the house to get it ready for the market. Riley discovers Jeannie going through Frank’s things, holding a box she insists belongs to her, and acting suspiciously. When Riley looks through the box, an even bigger mystery presents itself in the form of old newspaper clippings. Riley had always been told that Lisa became depressed and committed suicide, but the clippings revealed a dark fact that had been kept from her: Lisa’s suicide occurred shortly before she was due to stand trial for the murder of her violin teacher.
Driven to find out what happened, Lisa starts digging into the past, finding more questions than answers. Why was Frank giving $500 a month to Tom, a man Jeannie insists he didn’t even like? Why did he have a post office box in another town, under a false name? Why did Lisa kill her violin teacher? And why does Tom Kyle act as if he knows a lot more than he’s letting on?
The Silent Sister is a well-written, enjoyable read. A few of the plot twists were predictable (for me, at least), which is a shame because it would have been a more satisfying mystery if I hadn’t seen any of the plot twists coming. So instead of a four-star rating, I had to knock it down to a three. Still, it was a good story and I’m glad to have read it.
Author: Diane Chamberlain
Title: The Silent Sister
Series: Riley Macpherson #1
Published: October 7th, 2014 by St. Martin’s Press
About the Book
The Silent Sister is a gripping novel from Diane Chamberlain, the bestselling author of The Midwife’s Confession.
What if everything you believed turned out to be a lie? Riley MacPherson is returning to her childhood home in North Carolina. A place that holds cherished memories. While clearing out the house she finds a box of old newspaper articles – and a shocking family secret begins to unravel.
Riley has spent her whole life believing that her older sister Lisa died tragically as a teenager. But now she’s starting to uncover the truth: her life has been built on a foundation of lies, told by everyone she loved.
Lisa is alive. Alive and living under a new identity. But why exactly was she on the run all those years ago, and what secrets are being kept now?
As Riley tries to separate reality from fiction, her discoveries call into question everything she thought she knew about her family. Can she find the strength inside herself to decide her future.
Incredibly gripping and emotionally powerful, The Silent Sister is perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult and Liane Moriarty.
A companion short story featuring Riley, The Broken String, is available in eBook.
About the Author
Diane was born and raised in Plainfield, New Jersey and spent her summers at the Jersey Shore. She also lived for many years in San Diego and northern Virginia before making North Carolina her home.
Diane received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in clinical social work from San Diego State University. Prior to her writing career, Diane worked in hospitals in San Diego and Washington, D.C. before opening a private psychotherapy practice in Alexandria Virginia specializing in adolescents. All the while Diane was writing on the side. Her first book, Private Relations was published in 1989 and it earned the RITA award for Best Single Title Contemporary Novel.
Diane lives with her partner, photographer John Pagliuca, and her sheltie, Cole. She has three stepdaughters, two sons-in-law, and four grandchildren. She’s currently at work on her next novel.
Author photo and bio via Goodreads.