Crime Fiction


The Second Sister by Clare Kendal

A gripping read which is a 5-Star page-turner.
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‘She had no rest or peace until she set out secretly, and went forth into the wide world to trace out her brothers and set them free, let it cost what it might’.
The Brothers Grimm, ’The Seven Ravens’. [Quoted on the dedication page of this book]

In our great crime fiction book-group we have no real hard and fast rules about the books we read. We simply choose a theme. This month we decided on another ‘Alphabet Soup’. Each of us pick a letter out of a hat (figuratively speaking!) and then we choose books by authors with that letter in their name, or books with that letter in the title. Great fun and always stimulating.

When I landed the letter K I was faced with a bit of a dilemma. Did I choose one of my favourites, a book which has lived on my shelf for some years, a book I’ve read before? (And yes, I am one of those funny people who can enjoy re-reading a book, even a crime book.) Or should I play fair and find something new? I decided on the latter and spent some time browsing through the K section of the shelf before choosing The Second Sister by Claire Kendal, an American-born author who has lived all her life in England.

What attracted me, apart from the blurb on the back, were twofold: the photo of the hands holding the fading roses, and the title. Why The Second Sister rather than 'The Other Sister', which would, I think, have been the title choice of many other authors. But using the word ‘Second’ rather than ‘Other’ captures amazingly well what this book is about. Read it and see if you agree!

Fantastic Fiction, that amazing website with information about most books, has this to say:

'A decade ago, Ella Brooke's older sister, Miranda, vanished without a trace. With every passing year, Ella has come to resemble more closely the sister she lost - the same dark hair, the same piercing blue eyes – and now she's the same age Miranda was when she disappeared. Ella has never let go of her sister. She can still feel Miranda's presence, still hear her voice. She still talks to her. What holds Ella together is her love for her sister's 10-year-old son and her work as a self defence expert helping victims.’

I will not give anything away when I continue: ‘Ella is now actively searching for the truth about her sister’s disappearance. And in doing so she puts herself into peril.’

This is an excellent book. Ella is a great heroine, clever, spiky, relentlessly tenacious and, as we get to know her, we see just how fragile she is and how she holds herself together with sheer willpower. At times I wondered if she was even entirely sane.

I like the style of writing. The story is told mostly in the present tense, something I used to dislike, but which works really well here. Right the way through the book Ella is talking to her missing sister, (and hearing the sister’s replies, no wonder I doubted Ella’s sanity at times!) as if she is telling her the events of the two weeks leading up to the final confrontation. And I did not see that coming; the perpetrator wasn’t even close to who I thought it was.

I can highly recommend this book. I read it almost in one session. Basically, I couldn’t stop reading until I knew what would happen; and I genuinely feared for Ella.

I defy you to read it and not be as caught up by it as I was.

Oundle Library’s Crime Fiction Book Group is free to attend and lots of fun! We don’t have a set reading list. Instead, we agree a ‘theme’ for the month and choose the books and authors we want to read within that. We meet at Oundle Library on the third Friday of each month @ 2.30pm. Why not come along? You’ll be very welcome.
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