22 August 2019

Review: SISTERS, Gabrielle Lord

Synopsis (publisher)

Sydney screenwriter Greta Maitland’s life crashes at the arrival of the postcard from Crete:

‘Sorry to tell you this, but your sister Xanthe has been missing since May. Police have found no trace….’

Greta immediately flies to Crete to continue the stalled investigation, but there, runs into deceit; the Cretan police officer deliberately mistranslates her questions; Xanthe’s lover lies … more and more disturbing facts emerge about her sister and Greta’s growing suspicions about her husband seem confirmed.

In the ancient house inherited by the sisters, where Xanthe had first been living, Greta notices a faintly penciled phone number surrounded by a love heart, missed by the police and this leads her to the beautiful Etz Hayyim synagogue in Chania, and to her sister’s secret lover.

Using only Xanthe’s damaged artist’s journal and paintings as possible leads, and with earthquakes threatening, Greta must uncover the extraordinary events that have led to her sister’s disappearance. But can her marriage survive such betrayal? And can Greta herself survive the earthquakes in Crete, both emotional and physical, and their shattering consequences?

My Take

While there is plenty of mystery in this story, it is not crime fiction.

Greta's husband Magnus tells her that he has arranged a holiday for them on the French Riviera and almost immediately two things happen which throw those plans aside. First of all her mother, in the last stage of Alzheimers' dies; and then a postcard arrives telling her that her sister Xanthe who has been in Crete for three years is missing. Immmediately after her mother's funeral Greta flies out to Crete to look for her sister.

Almost immediately things back in Australia go awry. Magnus' career as Assistant Police Commissioner in New South Wales goes into jeopardy, he is unable to cope with his teenage daughter and young son, and Greta's publisher wants her next script.

In Crete Greta manages to find out what the police know about her sister's disappearance and she starts to look for clues about where she might be.  On the phone from Australia her husband Magnus becomes increasingly angry and at the same time very distant.

So this is a mystery rather than crime fiction. I found it a difficult read sometimes, a bit too philosophical, and several times was on the verge of giving up.

In March this year Gabrielle Lord wrote
Sisters is finally making its way into the shops.  It's been a long process, held up by unforeseen circumstances but now I'm hoping it goes out into the world and is well received.  This is the worry time for writers.  Will people like it?  Will it be well reviewed? Will it sell?  I'm hopeful that such a good story, well-researched --I lived in Crete for months in the northwest town of Kissamos where the story is set in order to get things right -- well, as right as a non-resident is able, with strong characters, facing difficult choices and often in some danger, create a novel which has been described as 'unputdownable'.  Wilkinson publishing has been very supportive (thank you Jess!) and although it's been a 'difficult birth', the result makes me happy.  I hope it'll bring the same satisfaction to all my readers.

I think maybe it was the depth of research that got in the way of my enjoyment. At times it read like a travelogue. But read it for yourself.

My rating: 4.2

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