SISTER DEAR by Hannah Mary McKinnon
Published May 26, 2020 by Mira Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Synopsis: In Hannah Mary McKinnon’s psychological thriller, SISTER DEAR, the obsession of Single White Female meets the insidiousness of You, in a twisted fable about the ease of letting in those who wish us harm, and that mistake’s dire consequences.
Beauty. Wealth. Success.
She’s got it all.
And it all should’ve been mine.
When Eleanor Hardwicke’s beloved father dies, her world is further shattered by a gut-wrenching secret: the man she’s grieving isn’t really her dad. Eleanor was the product of an affair and her biological father is still out there, living blissfully with the family he chose. With her personal life spiraling, a desperate Eleanor seeks him out, leading her to uncover another branch on her family tree—an infuriatingly enviable half sister.
Perfectly perfect Victoria has everything Eleanor could ever dream of. Loving childhood, luxury home, devoted husband. All of it stolen from Eleanor, who plans to take it back. After all, good sisters are supposed to share. And quiet little Eleanor has been waiting far too long for her turn to play.
Eleanor is raised by her mother, a mother who doesn’t like her very much and lets Eleanor know that her younger sister is the one she lives. When Eleanor is old enough, she basically cuts ties with her mother, and becomes very close with her father. Eleanor has little to no self-esteem and is a huge people pleaser. She has her own business and basically lives a solitary life, except for interactions with her father. When he dies from cancer, her life literally falls apart. First, she finds out that he wasn’t her real father. Her mother was pregnant when they got married and her father is a rich and successful businessman, who paid off her mother to stay out of his life. He is married and has a daughter almost the same age as Eleanor. When Eleanor approaches him, wanting to get to know her sister, he rebuffs her and tells her to stay out of his life. What is she to do?
Eleanor is a very sympathetic character. It seems the only luck she has is bad luck. She loses business, her family, gets mugged and so on. The only good luck she has is to meet Lewis, her upstairs neighbour, who seems to be attracted to her. He tries to help her and build up her self-esteem. Once again, she can’t believe anyone would want to have anything to do with her, her mother really did a job on her, and the author does a wonderful job painting a picture of this victimized young woman. Victoria, her sister, is beautiful, smart, friendly and seems to be perfect. The more Eleanor finds out about her, the more she wants to get to know her. Going behind her father, Stan’s back, Eleanor weedles her way into Victoria’s life.
The book starts slowly, and it seems more like a contemporary fiction/women’s fiction story. Now, that would have been fine with me as I also enjoy that genre, but boy oh boy, the author suddenly flipped that switch and I found myself stopping everything to get to the conclusion of the story. I had to find out what happened to Eleanor to have her end up in prison (we find that out in the prologue). I thought I knew where this story was going to go, but I was so wrong. The people that I thought were involved in whatever crime there was, were not. The crime itself shocked me as I was not suspecting it, and the twist at the end, Wow! So, my biggest piece of advice is to stick with this story to get to the twisty ending. I also hope there is going to be a sequel, as there is still more I want to know about this story.
I did a read/listen with this one. The audiobook narrated by Laura Ezzo, was well done. I found her performance expressive and she gave voice to Eleanor. I did find the pacing a bit slow, and consequently when it got really suspenseful, switched to reading the story. This was an ARC audiobook, so with a published copy, the option to speed up the narrative would be there. Overall, I enjoyed the audio version and Laura Ezzo’s performance. The publisher provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating, ideas and opinions shared are my own.
Hannah Mary McKinnon was born in the UK, grew up in Switzerland and moved to Canada in 2010. After a successful career in recruitment, she quit the corporate world in favor of writing, and is now the author of The Neighbors and Her Secret Son. She lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband and three sons, and is delighted by her twenty-second commute.