Saturday, July 9, 2011

Letter to a lost sister

Rosamund Lupton

This is not your usual jigsaw puzzle kind of crime novel that provides an easy couple of hours of escape or amusement. Bee first hunts for her missing pregnant younger sister then hunts for her killer while everyone- police, mother, boyfriend - are convinced her sister committed suicide during drug fueled post-partum psychosis. Bee at first is hidebound, corporate, and conservative ready to scold her arty "free spirit" little sister Tess but that all falls apart as the story goes on.

Bee is soon living in Tess' house, wearing her clothes, and questioning her friends, acquaintances, and former lovers: the baby's jerky art tutor father, Simon the ineffectual stalker, Kasia a pregnant Polish immigrant with an abusive boyfriend, and the doctors who are part of a controversial cystic fibrosis gene therapy trial.

The story winds around in a satisfying way - there are several possible killers. Frankly, Tess knew some awful men.

The relationship of the sisters, their mother, dead brother, form the emotional heart of the story and it is very moving and sad. Something about how you can only express your deepest feelings for your sister when it is too late. I don't have a sister so exploring that is new territory.

The dialogue is well written and the characters interesting. The London setting is serviceable but not very descriptive. I did find the medical stuff unconvincing - the way babies are delivered or drug trials conducted does not ring true, more research needed there? But the heartbreaking relationship of the sisters, how Bee redeems herself as a human, that is deeply moving.

It is refreshing to read an accidental detective story that is not the first of a series, at least I don't think so!

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