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My Sister's Grave (Tracy Crosswhite) Paperback – November 1, 2014
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An Amazon Book with Buzz: "The Second Home" by Christina Clancy
"A sure-footed ode to the strength of family, the depth of loss, and the power of forgiveness." - J. Ryan Stradal Learn more
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A Goodreads Best Book of the Month
“One of the best books I’ll read this year.” —Lisa Gardner, bestselling author of Touch and Go
“Dugoni does a superior job of positioning [the plot elements] for maximum impact, especially in a climactic scene set in an abandoned mine during a blizzard—which is melodramatic but nevertheless effective.” —Publishers Weekly
“Yes, a conspiracy is revealed, but it’s an unexpected one, as moving as it is startling...The ending is violent, suspenseful, even touching. A nice surprise for thriller fans.” —Booklist
Starred Review: “Combines the best of a police procedural with a legal thriller, and the end result is outstanding...Dugoni continues to deliver emotional and gut-wrenching, character-driven suspense stories that will resonate with any fan of the thriller genre.” —Library Journal
“Well-written and its classic premise is sure to absorb legal-thriller fans...Though the pace lags at times, the characters are richly detailed and true to life, and the ending is sure to please fans.” —Kirkus Reviews
“My Sister’s Grave is a chilling portrait shaded in neo-noir, as if someone had taken a knife to a Norman Rockwell painting by casting small town America as the place where bad guys blend into the landscape, establishing Dugoni as a force to be reckoned with outside the courtroom as well as in.” —Providence Journal
“What starts out as a sturdy police procedural morphs into a gripping legal thriller...Dugoni is a superb storyteller, and his courtroom drama shines. This ‘Grave’ is one to get lost in.” —Boston Globe
“This story captured my attention, and made me care about Tracy and Sarah and what happened to them. This is a compelling story, difficult to put down, and the ending was not at all what I expected. I loved My Sister’s Grave and was drawn in from the beginning, and can easily recommend it to anyone who loves a good mystery.” —Bitten by Books
About the Author
Dugoni has twice been nominated for the Harper Lee Award for Legal Fiction, was a 2015 International Thriller Writer's finalist for thriller of the year, and the 2015 winner of the Nancy Pearl Award for Fiction. His books are sold world-wide in more than 20 countries and have been translated into a dozen languages including French, German, Italian and Spanish.
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I read reviews before buying these. There were some issues with the forward/backward timelines and some who thought that these "flashbacks" were a distraction and created confusion. Sometimes that is true, but I don't know if the story could be told in any different manner. And Dugoni is certainly a talented storyteller. If you are considering this book, it's a pretty good read.
Also, the author needs to work on names and naming conventions. There are so many minor characters and when they all have names like Finlay, Finn, and Kins, it's harder to tell them apart. Also, the author flips back and forth between calling a character by their first name and last name with no apparent pattern or reasoning. It makes it particularly difficult when a character is named something like "Kelly Rosa", she comes up in about 3 scenes, and half the time she's called Kelly and half the time Rosa. I thought they were two different people.
As I said, I'm not sorry I read the book and would recommend it to someone who was looking for a easy crime read. I'd also consider another book by this author, but agree with other reviewers that he needs to consider a different editor.
Top international reviews
Review of My Sister's Grave:
Headline: A brilliant, police procedural & legal thriller that is deceptively easy to read & one that you'll find hard to put down.
When I was at school I remember some teachers of English literature asking me what a book was about and I would say (for example) "It's a story about a murder and the search for the murderer" ... to which they would reply (much to my annoyance), "Yes, Paul, but what is it REALLY about?". Reading this terrific story reminded me of those school days as on one level this is a relatively straightforward story about a police investigation into a cold case and the courtroom drama that follows. However, there is so much more to this story than that. This is a story about relationships, guilt and the search for justice.
'My Sister's Grave' is a very well written book. The setting is very atmospheric; set in winter in a small town in the United States, it focuses on the ramifications following the accidental discovery of the body of Sarah Crosswhite, some twenty years after she had disappeared. Tracy Crosswhite, her older sister, has never got over feeling responsible for the disappearance of Sarah, to whom she was devoted. It affected her life, her marriage and her subsequent choice of career. Now, on hearing the news that her sister's body has been found, Tracy hopes that the police will be able to find the real killer as she is convinced that the man who had been convicted for her murder had been convicted on hearsay and somewhat questionable evidence. The story follows Tracy, now a detective, as she returns to her hometown to follow the investigation and to participate in the court hearing regarding whether or not the original sentence should be quashed. It also explores the ramifications that the discovery has on those residents who, while still alive today, were involved in the original investigation.
The story flits between the past and the present but it is not difficult to follow. There are a few red herrings and a number of moments of high drama and tension as the story unfolds, with the courtroom scenes being particularly dramatic. In this respect the story is riveting and once 'hooked' I just could not put it down.
But for me, this story is more than just a police procedural and legal thriller. The author has captured a sense of the emotional bond that can exist between siblings (or sisters in this case) and the lasting impact and feelings of guilt that an action for which a person holds themselves responsible, has on their life. It also questions the relationships between the police and the judiciary. It examines how different people react when faced with a possible miscarriage of justice and a need to 'put things right'. And it also raises the issue of whether it is possible to trust oneself to become emotionally attached to another person following the experience of a marriage that had not survived a traumatic event.
So while one can really enjoy this story as a relatively straightforward police procedural and legal thriller (and with a hint of romance thrown into the mix), for me it went much further. It has certainly left me wanting to read more of the books in the Tracy Crosswhite series by Robert Dugoni.
Review of 'Her Final Breath'
Headline: A terrific crime thriller that has a gripping plot and great characterisation.
'Her Final Breath' is a brilliant follow-up novel to 'Her Sister's Grave', but it is not essential to have read the first book in the series as there are sufficient references to it in this novel to ensure one understands Tracy's back-story and why she reacts to certain situations in the way she does.
The main aspects of this novel that impressed me are (1) its writing - a real page turner of a story that is easy to read and follow; (2) the characterisation - all the characters are totally believable, including the bad guys and (3) the plot - very dramatic and increasingly so as it nears its dramatic climax.
One thing to be aware of is that the story contains a lot of characters and a number of possible suspects for the crime ... this should not be a problem if you have a good memory!
The plot follows Tracy's efforts to find a serial killer. It has plenty of twists and turns and 'false leads' and some shenanigans by her boss just to add further complexity and tension.
In short, this is a terrific story and it has resulted in my buying the next book in the series!
This is a mixture of high speed police detective work and legal thriller. The combination works really well and keeps you guessing throughout. The characters are really well developed and the relationships between the characters work well. I would recommend it to people wanting a new, well written series and I am looking forward to reading the second book in the series.
The twenty-year old remains of Tracy’s sister are going to let us know all their secrets. One by one we suspect all the main characters of having taken part in some kind of conspiracy. Why was Edmund House, a convicted rapist, so easily condemned when the evidence against him was so minor? And why has the body only come to light now, so many years later?
I enjoyed the ride. Even the romance, between Tracy and an old school friend, worked for me – and I often don’t like romances stuffed into thriller books.
A great book.
As with other novels in the genre, a detective is nothing without their ghosts and Tracy’s lie in the disappearance of her sister twenty years before. Her guilt is tied to the fact that she left Sarah to head home alone at the age of 18. Her car ran out of gas … and that was that. Tracy has spent the subsequent years chasing answers, reading files, and generally keeping the rest of her life on hold as her quest for answers remains unfulfilled … until Sarah’s body is uncovered. Then it’s back home to small town Cedar Grove, where everybody knows her name and her story.
The two novels in the series so far chart Tracy’s involvement in her sister’s murder inquiry which continues to impact on her life and professional reputation afterwards. And, as in politics, sometimes the enemy is within, and she has to look out for the shenanigans of her boss, Johnny Nolasco. They had a run-in in the Academy and, as these things go, it has never been resolved and their distrust and dislike of each other has ripples and aftershocks – for both of them – as time moves on.
The love interest angle is covered by lawyer Dan O’Leary, a childhood friend of Tracy who turns up at Sarah’s funeral, having moved back to Cedar Grove. The relationship is handled well and it’s not all spark and fizz as in other novels, moving along at a more realistic and believable pace.
The novels aren’t as fully engaging as others, but I’m happy to have added them to my library nonetheless and will follow Tracy as she ponders her next move. These novels have also whetted my appetite for other Dugoni novels, so that’s surely a compliment.
Guilt is a credible aspect of this story; personal loss leads to circumspection and not bothering others with worries and cares as you second guess your loved ones needs and try to make amends.
Tracy feels its her fault as she rushed off and left her sister to travel home alone; their parents feel they could have protected Sarah if they'd not been off celebrating their wedding anniversary.
Tracy tries to continue with her life when someone is tried and found guilty for murdering Sarah although her body was never been found. However, all her spare time is spent looking into the trial as she feels there was a rush to justice and the evidence wasn't fully investigated.
In the end having lost both her parents she leaves her hometown to try to become a cop in nearby Seattle.
This wonderfully paced account of a potential miscarriage of justice leads Tracey into a clash with those responsible for the initial trial. How can she move some 20 years later to influence events? She couldn't but then a body is discovered in the woods close to where Sarah went missing.
Great story and loss and enduring love. What is justice if you can't convict the guilty? If you manage to overturn the original conviction who will thank you; will it reveal a conspiracy or re-kindle an investigation to find the truth.
Beautifully told, full of believable characters who mostly go the extra mile yet still come up short in their hopes or desires.
A reflection on cold case investigations where new scientific procedures can break cases wide apart; told in a personal manner, with more than professional integrity at stake. Tracy must know the truth; this terrific thriller shows you should be careful what you wish for and sometimes it is only with maturity and hindsight that you can live with that reality or face death with a sense of peace.
The pace is good, with Robert Dugoni making effective switches between the two timelines to increase suspense in both. This feature and the very short chapters make this a difficult book to put down. There are also twists and turns, with some predictability and some surprises. Sometimes the style is a little clumsy with the same word repeated within the same sentence, but perhaps this is more of an editorial issue.
Part way through the book, when I was considering how I might review it, I felt that the characterisation was quite weak - even of Tracy. I found this rather disappointing. However, as I reached the climax of the story, I realised I was really rooting for Tracy and was keen to hear more about her. She had become more rounded without my noticing and that sisterly love, which I mentioned before, had become not only apparent, but very realistic. I shall certainly read the next novel in the series, "Her Final Breath", where I hope her character will become more developed and that maybe some of the players will have more substance, too.
The ambience of little town in Washington, Cedar Grove makes a pretty picture of a homely town where everybody knows everyone else, kids go cycling together, elders enjoy hikes and trail walks in nearby hills and law enforcement does not need much of an effort to keep the innate peace of the place, which is shattered by mysterious disappearance of Sarah Crosswhite, Tracy's younger sister. Sarah was the most interesting character of the book, alas we only read about her in past tense. An enjoyable read to get you through commuting hours and airport lounges.
It kept my interest the whole way through even though I didn't get through it too quickly-spent more time over Christmas watching the box for a change. There were a lot of twists and turns and as usual I didn't guess correctly what was going on which I was pleased about.
I liked his dedication at the start and also the fact he used people he knows' names as characters. A nice touch.
It wasn't without mistakes (here it comes)....Sarah used at one point in place of Tracy, tick not tic, grayer not greyer, dying not dyeing, born not borne and discreet not discrete.
This passed me by as well. During a courtcase somebody opined "The prosecutor is testifying, your Honor" and I didn't understand the line at all however many times I went back and concentrated really hard. There were some good old snarky remarks in it and some parts that also made me snivel a bit as well so a bit of everything included.
So pleased that this is the first in a series of books - can't wait to read the next one
When you get to the start of a chapter to be told that it will take 20 minutes to read, you look at the clock and decide perhaps it is time to get some sleep. If it will only take 2 or 3 minutes to read and you are really getting interested, you don't bother to check the time. This book has a lot of short chapters and I lost quite a bit of sleep reading it!