Title: The Missing Sister
Author: Elle Marr
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
What It’s About: Shayna Darby comes to Paris to identify the body of her sister, Angela, who purportedly died in a terrorist attack at her University, and was later pulled out of the Seine. While staying the night at Angela’s apartment, attempting to make sense of who her sister was, as they grew distant in the time after their parents death, Shayna notices a message from her sister in a secret code only the two of them know: TRUST NO ONE.
She wonders if she can trust her sister’s boyfriend, Sebastian, who helps her sort through the documents and personal effects belonging to her sister, as well as the embassy attache that has been assigned to help her around the city. She visits the morgue, and makes the decision to tell the police that it is her sister, even as she doubts the circumstances of her sister’s death, and the twin instincts that her sister claim has always helped them be aware of each other throughout their lives, no matter the distance they have put between them.
Shayna begins to investigate her sister’s death on her own, and quickly comes to realize that no one truly knows what happened to her sister, or who could have targeted her in the terrorist attack. By all accounts, there was little her sister was doing that could have made her the target of the attack. Shayna takes up Sebastian on his offer to show her around, but after he almost kisses her during a dinner, she decides that she wants to explore the town on her own, always returning to the Catacombs of Paris, believing that they hold the secret to her sister’s disappearance.
As the town goes on lockdown, Shayna enlists the assistance of the Chinese woman at the bottom floor of her sister’s apartment–they had shared moments together, both coming from the same background, and the woman tells her stories of discovering and mapping many of the catacombs, but not all of them. She had been one of the founding climbers in the catacombs back in her day, when they mapped them as younger adults. She and the woman evade the police, and enter down to the catacombs through a different entrance, making their way to a series of coordinates that Shayna had found left behind by her sister.
It is there that she finds her sister, and together they face the person who has been hunting her for some time with sinister purpose: Sebastian. The two of them overpower him, and her sister escapes France with Shayna’s passport, while Shayna takes the fall to protect her. It turns out that Sebastian was part of an organized crime/human trafficking group, and the embassy attache was in fact looking for the organize crime group, upon which Shayna’s sister stumbled.
My Thoughts: This was a very dry thriller–a lot of it is Shayna second guessing herself about whether her sister is alive, whether the “twin instinct” exists, because she was a medical student so she believes in logic. She goes back and forth about all of the situations that she and Angela fought over, protected each other from, all the while trying to figure out whether Angela was alive, or whether she was dead. I understand that when someone dies, there is a level of grief, and so we play through our memories of the person, but she was kind of stuck in her head all of the time.
There wasn’t a lot of action, and Sebastian and the embassy attache guy really just were suspicious from the outset. Both of them seemed like they were trying to insert themselves into things, and made me wonder why. It’s only after the whole ordeal in the catacomb that it’s revealed why the embassy attache stuck around, but Sebastian’s real motives were to have twins for himself. He doesn’t sound deranged enough to do what he was doing, so it made his character fall flat for me.
If you’re into thrillers, find a different book.
2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Missing Sister”
Thanks for the detailed review, from what you’ve observed I doubt I’d have much more success with the book either (I despise novels branded as thrillers without actually depicting any level of tangible threats or suspense until the latter portion of the story). Villains who don’t manage to make it feel as if their motives are somewhat realistic to their behaviours all along never allow a good story—an issue with subpar characterizations I’ve been noticing in a lot of popular fiction lately. In any case I hope you are able to find a better thriller soon!
Thank you for your comment! I actually have to agree with you on this one–it’s not something that I’ve noticed with thrillers lately because I haven’t been reading as many as I normally would, but this book in particular was just bland. The Villain had no purpose to their actions, and then the resolution was a bit odd–like she ran away to hide in the catacombs (why?!) from this guy, and then even while the police is looking for her, she decides to steal her sister’s passport to go back to the US? Why wouldn’t you just come clean and say “hey, I’m alive actually and here’s what happened,” instead of just running away from the problems because you don’t want to deal with it. Such an odd thriller with unsatisfactory resolution.
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