“My Sister’s Grave” by Robert Dugoni
In “My Sister’s Grave,” Tracy Crosswhite, a Seattle homicide detective, is still investigating her sister’s murder twenty years after the fact. A paroled rapist was convicted at the time and is sitting in jail for the crime, but Tracy believes the wrong guy was put away.
Her 18 year old sister, Sarah, disappeared the evening following their championship shooting competition, and though a thorough search was conducted, her body was never found. Deep down, Tracy wanted to believe there was a chance that Sarah might still have been alive. But, if not, who killed Sarah? And why? Tracy’s obsession with solving the case has even driven away her sympathetic, once supportive husband.
When Sarah’s body is discovered in a now dry lakebed, Tracy returns to Cedar Grove and wants the case reopened. She faces resistance from unexpected directions as people urge her to let it go, saying that the town has suffered along with the Crosswhite family and wants to move on. What had been a place of unlocked doors has become a place of anger and sadness, without trust. The more Tracy pushes for answers, the more she suspects a cover-up has been buried along with her sister for all that time, the more her own life is in danger.
“My Sister’s Grave” is an absorbing look at the actions of a loved one left behind, consumed with guilt that she was responsible for her sister’s death. Who could move on from that in real life? We know that Tracy should not be shouldering that guilt, but we are drawn into the story and want to find the truth as well.
As always, Robert Dugoni writes fully fleshed out characters, people we can root for as well as people we can despise. Dan, a childhood friend, now a lawyer living in Cedar Grove, works nicely as Tracy’s sounding board and support system when she needs it. Their personal relationship develops naturally and provides balance to the intensity of the fast-paced, mature-themed storylines and jaw-dropping plot twists.
How does Robert Dugoni write the women in his books so beautifully? Get inside their heads in such a believable way? I learned this summer that the man has four sisters. ‘Nuf said.
He also has a knack for creating memorable settings for the climactic scenes in his books. Not to give anything away, but I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough during the snowstorm section.
Dugoni revealed that the idea for "My Sister's Grave" came from an actual water diversion that caused water to recede and then expose previously covered land. His mystery-focused mind went in the direction of murder and an unsolved crime.
This is not an addition to Dugoni’s bestselling David Sloane series, but not to worry. Crosswhite is a character from “Murder One” and Dugoni has done a terrific job of building on that persona and giving her the strong voice she deserves in order to be the lead in “My Sister’s Grave.” If you’d like to read a bit of background on the Tracy Crosswhite character and what makes her tick, Dugoni published a novella a few months ago, titled “The Academy,” that works nicely as an intro to this book.
With so many missing persons on record in the www.NamUs.gov database, what is fiction for “My Sister’s Grave” may be tragic truth for some grieving family out there. What drives Tracy to keep digging would be natural for most families. It’s about closure. We want a wandering family member to be okay. If we suspect that a crime has been committed, we want justice for the victim. We want to help victims of amnesia, restore them to a loving home. Our humanity wants help for the lost, and if we felt that we had anything to do with the disappearance, we would feel guilt and maybe even an obsessive need to discover the facts. I’d like to think that if I had been trapped or lost, that a ‘Tracy’ in my life would not have stopped looking.
Dugoni mentioned on Facebook that he is working on the sequel. Can’t wait! (It is now 15 months later, and happily for us, he has written more books in the series)
Read my review of “Wrongful Death” here.
Read my review of “The Conviction” here.
Please visit www.robertdugoni.com for more information about his work, his book signings, and the writing classes he conducts.