Saturday, August 1, 2015

The Night Sister

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon
Knopf Doubleday: 8/4/15
eBook review copy, 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9780385538510

The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon is a very highly recommended novel that combines suspense and fantasy as it explores the bonds between sisters and the downfall of keeping secrets. McMahon is swiftly becoming one of my go-to authors for the combination of consistently great writing with a compelling narrative. She delivers on both counts here.

The Night Sister opens with a horrific murder. It appears the Amy Slater has killed her family and then herself at her home. They were living in her family's house by the dilapidated buildings of what was once her family's business, the Tower Motel, in the sleepy town of London, Vermont. The only survivor is her daughter Lou, who was found hiding out on the roof of the house. 

Margot calls her older sister Piper to tell her of the tragic news and Piper flies back to Vermont to be with her sister. A photo was found with a cryptic note on it referring to the 29th room. The only problem is that the Tower Motel only had 28 rooms. But Piper and Margot were childhood friends of Amy and the three played together until they had a falling out in the summer of 1989. They know a secret they aren't sharing. Jason, who is currently on the police force in London and married to Margot, knew all three girls at that time. He knows they are hiding something, but he has secrets of his own.

The story is presented in three time periods, which are clearly indicated: 2013, 1955 or 1961, and 1989. The chapters are narrated through the voice of several different characters: Amy at the very beginning, then the story unfolds through Jason and Piper in 1989 and 2013, and Rose (Amy's mother) in the early years. Interspersed in the early years are letters Silvie, Rose's older sister, has written to Alfred Hitchcock.

While you know that the three girls discovered a terrible secret that ruined their friendship in the summer of 1989, you don't find out what the secret is until the end. McMahon grabs your attention at the beginning with the murders, and then settles in to tell her story, slowly revealing clues that aren't fully explained until the end. (Fans of Hitchcock movies may be able to spot several tie-ins to his films.) The Night Sister is a good, creepy book that held my attention from beginning to end.

Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Knopf Doubleday for review purposes.

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