Little Sister
Grade : A-

Little Sister is the fourth book in the DCI Jonah Sheens series. You do not have to read the others to enjoy this one, but I recommend doing so since they are excellent books and provide some interesting background on the main character.  

Jonah Sheens is at the pub with his daughter Milly, enjoying nice weather, a rare moment of quiet from his infant and a pint, when a young girl wanders onto the grounds. She’s beautiful, but her flaming red hair and striking features aren’t what draw all eyes to her. It’s the blood covering her that gets everyone’s attention. 

Fortunately Jonah’s domestic partner Michelle picks that moment to show up so he can pass care of their child onto her as he focuses his attention on the girl. He gets her some lemonade and learns her name is Keely. Then he asks how she was injured and how he can help. She insists she’s fine but advises him he should be worried about her sister Nina. And he is. The amount of blood on Keely would represent a serious injury and Jonah is eager to find whoever it belongs to. Then Keely smiles and says she’ll be glad to answer any questions he has once they reach the station.  

Jonah isn’t used to people being quite so eager to be interrogated. Once he has his team gathered together, he realizes that there is a reason for Keely’s enthusiasm. She has a story she wants to tell him - a story which, if true, details years of abuse of both her and her sister. The only problem is, Keely has made these allegations before, and they’ve been investigated and proven untrue. Is she so determined to have her lie believed she will risk her sister’s life? Is she actually a sociopath determined to destroy the people around her? Or a victim of some very clever perpetrators? She insists the clues to where Nina is are hidden are in her story, but if Jonah and his team follow those miniscule hints will they indeed find the missing sister or will they simply be playing some macabre game of Keely’s, whose ending might very well be dark, dangerous and deadly?  

Little Sister is written from two differing perspectives. Keely offers us a first person look at her life while Jonah and his team are featured in the chapters written in third person omniscient which follows them as they do the grunt work necessary to solve the case.  The author fluctuates between giving us small details about their personal lives and taking us through the banality of what they do: paper/computer work, the endless questioning of witnesses, following up on each tiny lead, and spending hours driving from one point to another.  We learn that Juliette is still being stalked by her abusive ex, and even though she has a court case against him pending, he is still stalking her. The health issues with Ben Lightman’s dad are now public knowledge but he seems to be having some real struggles handling this case in his usual calm, methodical manner and Juliette can’t help wondering why.  Jonah had left his partner Michelle previously and only returned because of the baby. He is still wondering if he made the right choice, although he is giving his all to both his relationship with the child and that child’s mother. Seriously, he’s giving a lot; most significant others aren’t this helpful. Jonah finds himself torn between giving his best to this case and his job and doing his best to care for his family.  

Family is really what this story is all about. What makes a family work, what happens when it doesn’t and where do people with no one to help them go for justice. Keely and Nina once led idyllic lives ,but fortune did not smile upon them and the loss of their mother saw them entering the child welfare system. The question for most of the story is if the system failed them or if they simply were clever enough to work it to their seeming advantage. Keely is presented as cold, hard, and intensely clever. She checks all the boxes that would have most psychologists screaming psychosis, but those things also might apply to someone who had been hardened by a tough life they were trying their best to survive. Jonah hates playing her little game - but he also knows she will shut down if he doesn’t, and that will end any chance he has of finding whoever the blood belongs to.  

The author does a fantastic job of handling innumerable characters and giving them all depth. Not only do we learn a lot about the members of Jonah’s team and what is happening in their lives, but we also (slowly)  get a clear picture of  Nina, Keely and Callum, the three primary players in Keely’s story. I also appreciated how Little Sister balanced the line between how sexual predators work, how someone can make it look like a person is a sexual predator when they aren’t, and how both those type of people can hide behind the rights that are fundamental to our protection from living in a police state.  

I’m always impressed with how Lodge takes a police procedural, which as its name implies is all about the process of solving a crime, and turns it into a deeply characte-driven narrative.  She brilliantly shows us how much personality affects both the execution and the resolution of a transgression. 

In this volume, Lodge has pitted the unreliable narrator of a thriller (Keely) against the steadfast stalwart detective of a procedural to produce a fascinating and engrossing tale. I liked having good guys to root for in Jonah and his team, but I also really appreciated the thrill factor of dealing with someone as shadowy as Keely,  a character who demands that we look beneath her surface and find what lies within. 

Little Sister is an intriguing mystery that I would recommend to fans of that genre. While you don’t need to start with the first book, She Lies in Wait, I would receommend doing so if you can. It’s a good story in its own right and one that does provide some additional – not essential, but nice to have - background information about the investigative team. 

Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent retailer 

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Reviewed by Maggie Boyd
Grade : A-
Book Type: Mystery

Sensuality: Kisses

Review Date : June 30, 2022

Publication Date: 06/2022

Recent Comments …

  1. What kept me reading was the sheer unpredictability of the storyline. I knew David’s and Chelsea’s paths would cross again…

Maggie Boyd

I've been an avid reader since 2nd grade and discovered romance when my cousin lent me Lord of La Pampa by Kay Thorpe in 7th grade. I currently read approximately 150 books a year, comprised of a mix of Young Adult, romance, mystery, women's fiction, and science fiction/fantasy.
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