Desert Isle Keeper
The Good Sister
Originally published in the U.K. under the title No Further Questions, The Good Sister is the first novel from author Gillian McAllister to be published in the U.S. She has apparently written two others, but they’re currently only available in the U.K. Hopefully, this will change soon, since I loved pretty much everything about this twisty family drama centered around a trial.
Martha is finding first-time motherhood difficult. Balancing the needs of a fussy baby against those of the growing charity she runs feels almost impossible some days, and there are times Martha finds herself wondering if she’s really cut out to be a mother. So, when her sister Becky expresses an interest in quitting her job, Martha jumps at the chance to hire her to look after the baby while Martha herself tends to charity-related business. At first, Becky seems eager to help Martha out, but as time passes, and the baby’s constant crying begins to wear on her nerves, Becky begins to regret her hasty agreement.
One night when Martha and her husband are out of town, leaving Becky in charge of the baby, something terrible happens, and the two-month-old child is found dead in her crib. Suspicion almost immediately turns to Becky, since she was the one responsible for the child. Martha has a hard time believing her sister would have ever done such a terrible thing, but the evidence against Becky turns out to be quite damning.
The story is told around the framework of Becky’s murder trial. Martha is a witness for the prosecution, something that has caused her a great deal of inner turmoil. She hates the thought of helping to convict her sister, but she also owes a debt of loyalty to her deceased child. As the trial continues, the author gives us glimpses into Becky’s personal life, both from her own perspective as well as those of other people who knew her. As each witness is called to testify, Ms. McAllister takes the reader back in time to various points leading up to the baby’s death. This style of storytelling could have very easily become chaotic, but the author pulls it off beautifully. We never learn a great deal about the motivations of the various witnesses, but we are treated to their innermost thoughts and fears about Becky.
I’ve always loved books that center around court proceedings, so The Good Sister was the perfect book for me. The author manages to strike the perfect balance between court testimony and time we spend in the heads of the various characters. I was utterly engrossed from start to finish, and I flew through the story in less than a day.
Both Martha and Becky come off as very authentic, with two very distinct personalities. Each woman possesses the sort of strengths and weaknesses you’d encounter in the people who make up your own inner circle. No one is supposed to be all good or all bad; instead, Ms. McAllister explores that gray area of human nature that always fascinates me.
Nothing about this novel is predictable. The ending completely blew my mind. I read a lot of thrillers, so it’s difficult to catch me totally off guard, but this novel managed to do it.
I could continue gushing on and on about the fabulousness that is The Good Sister, but I’d rather let you discover it for yourself. Please pick this up just as soon as you can. It has shot to the top of my list of favorite books of 2019, and I want the entire world to fall in love with it the way I did.