Bestselling author Robert Dugoni implements the perfect mixture of suspense, drama and vengeance in his book, My Sister’s Grave. The book, published in November 2014 and was #1 on Amazon, as well as a New York Times and Wallstreet Journal Bestseller. It is the first of three incredible fiction books from the Tracy Crosswhite series that make it hard to do anything else until you reach the end. This story serves as introduction to Tracy Crosswhite’s character, provides backstory, and insight as to why she became a homicide detective.
In brief, My Sister’s Grave follows the series of events that take place after the mysterious disappearance of Tracy Crosswhite’s younger sister, Sarah. The town’s police department closes the case after convicting and imprisoning a man named Edmond House for the crime. However, Tracy has doubts about the suspect, evidence, believes there is much more to the story than what was presented. She becomes a homicide detective and never gives up hope that she’d one day solve the mystery and discover what really happened to her sister that night. Twenty years later, her sister’s body is finally found and Tracy returns to her hometown of Cedar Grove with plans to expose the truth once and for all.
One of the first things that stood out to me while reading this book was its smooth pace, with chapters alternating between past and present.
The story is told in third person, which is actually nice. Typically, I enjoy first person accounts from the main character’s perspective. However, the unbiased narration of this story leaves it up to the readers to draw our own conclusions about the plot and character interactions.
One of my favorite aspects is the fact that the leading character is a strong, independent woman. She is tough but not portrayed as emotionless, and she is vulnerable, but does not let love and romance distract her from her end goal.
My only real critique involves the ending. Although I loved the bombshell that was dropped unexpectedly, it seemed to me that once the truth was finally revealed, things started to drag on a bit. Perhaps this was due to my eagerness to get to the end, but I felt as if the last few chapters could have been condensed. Again, I love the way the ending was written so this critique is, by no means, a complaint. I personally just would have liked the final action to conclude a bit more quickly.
In the end, all loose ends were tied up quite nicely; something that is surprisingly not always the case with suspense and thriller novels. I kept a record of questions I’d need solid answers to by the end of the book, and found myself checking off each one, which is a huge plus for me.
Imaginary casting some of the characters for this was actually much more difficult than I thought it would be. For some characters, I referred directly to specific descriptive language provided in the text, while for others, I simply used whatever images appeared in my mind while reading. Here’s the final roster my imagination cooked up:
Tracy Crosswhite: Naomi Watts
Young Tracy Crosswhite: Nicola Peltz
Sarah Crosswhite: Maddie Hasson
Dan: Josh Duhamel (not sure about this one)
Calloway: Danny Glover
Edmund House: James Franco
My Sister’s Grave – Alternate Ending
Coming up with an alternate ending for this book was pretty easy for me because I simply went with what Tracy thinks and what the author wants us to think towards the end of the story. Parker House would have actually killed Sarah and framed his nephew, Edmond.
Tracy’s hunch that Parker House was guilty because no one bothered to confirm his alibi would have been correct. Parker would have shot through Dan’s window that night in order to scare them out of representing Edmond with hopes of getting a retrial and potentially reopening an investigation to find the real killer, which could have very well exposed the truth as to why he framed his nephew. Edmund really would have gotten those scratches from the woodwork he was doing, and went to bed shortly after.
Parker would have been the one eyeing Tracy and Sarah all that time, waiting for his chance to make a move on one of them. Parker would have been driving home from a bar when he saw Sarah walking and offered her a ride but didn’t take no for an answer. One thing would have led to another and Parker would have killed Sarah, panicked, hid her body up in the old mine, joined the search group to stay close to the family and keep an ear open for new information, and dumped her body right before the flooding began.
He would have pretended to help Calloway from Edmond because he knew something was wrong with him, when all along he was framing him as an easy veil for his own crime. Tracy would have followed her instinct, driven up to their place that day, confronted Parker, possibly helped by Edmond, and then taken down Parker. Calloway would have apologized to Tracy and thanked her for her resilience, despite his own shortcomings in the case. In the end, Edmond’s name would be cleared and the real killer, Parker, would rot in prison.
Overall, Robert Dugoni’s composition of My Sister’s Grave is definitely a page-turner, to say the least. You won’t want to put it down. The short chapters make it a pleasant read, and the complexity of each character will leave you questioning any and everything down to the very last chapters. Check out the full episode of ‘Plot Twisted’ below!