I started reading My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni near the end of August, after I had finished writing the first manuscript of She. After letting off for a few weeks as I worked on another manuscript and edited She, I went back to the book slowly. There was tons to like about it, but a few things stuck out to me that made me hesitant to read. Up to that point, it hadn’t really grabbed my attention.
Anyways, the book is a good-sized one, about 400 pages, but it didn’t feel nearly as long when I was reading it. Never before has a book flown by so fast in some parts and taken ages to crawl along in others. The pacing was sometimes frantic, sometimes as slow as pineapple juice mixed with glue (which is pretty darn slow).
Now to the actual review part, before I get really off topic.
WHAT I LIKED:
- How It Dealt With Courtroom Drama
There were scenes in the book -and the whole premise of the story- that relied heavily upon a court setting. This included lawyers, judges, courtroom terms; the whole deal.
This can either be a great thing or a terrible problem, depending on how skilled the author is and how the story goes. Court can, ultimately, be boring. Or, it can be surprisingly exciting. Like I said, it depends on the characters and therefore the author. (I try my best to stay away from courts and such. I have no experience. It would be a disaster. Just like the sales on the book.)
Although I’ve only read a few books that had to confront this aspect, I’ve read two that were notably on opposite ends of the spectrum. One, a John Grisham book, did an excellent job. Nearly the entire book was set in a courtroom setting or a lawyer’s firm, and it worked wonderfully. The other, however, was the opposite. It flopped. Terribly. And made me scared to write a courtroom-drama, -mystery, -murder, -anything.
This book had a few chapters and a subplot that relied heavily on the courtroom scenes. Dugoni did a fantastic job, and made them not only exciting to read, but a part of the book that I couldn’t put down.
(The love story mixed in didn’t hurt at all, either.)
- How It Was Hard To Put Down
As I’ve hinted at, this was originally going to be both a good and bad category in my opinion. Parts of the book kept me on the edge of my seat and reading late into the night, even when I told myself after every chapter that I needed to sleep. Because of this, I read over 100 pages in two days, even though I was only reading right before bed.
On the other side, there were parts of the book that I found quite difficult to follow or to keep reading. Sometimes, I wanted to go to sleep before the chapter was over. Or just play Scrabble. (That game is addicting.) Because of this, I didn’t read the book at all for nearly a week, even when I had ample time.
Robert Dugoni -at least in this book- is a master of flashbacks. He uses them to enhance the stories, add depth to the characters, quicken the pace, and do everything that those online articles about flashbacks tell you to do. Of all the books I’ve read, this was a perfect example of how to use flashbacks, a technique that I have never been quite able to master myself.
This is one of those books I would go back and read again, taking notes on how to improve my own writing through it. Not only that, but it is completely entertaining as well and a great story.
(I’m trying to stick with three points but there is another I can’t help but mentioning. The characters. Everything is so life-like and understandable. Every character is like someone you might meet in real life. I would highly, highly recommend this book.)
WHAT I DISLIKED:
- Meaningless Movements
There were a few instances where the author described characters doing everyday, casual details. A few times, I understood the purpose behind it, revealing something new or moving the story along. But a few times I was unsure what the purpose was.
Ultimately, this is not a big deal, but because I don’t have much to talk about, I had to mention it. Great books are so hard to review.
- The Killer’s Identity
The jury’s still out on this one. (Get it? Courtroom drama? You know you got it.)
In some ways, the final identity of the murderer was brilliant. In some ways, it was cliched. In some ways, it just seemed lazy.
It was certainly a twist in the story, but there were plenty of those. This seemed unnecessary, and although the ending was brilliant, it could have been achieved a different way. There were some loose ends that might have been left hanging, but there are two more books in the series after all. (I’ll be reading those next.)
I can’t give much away on this without giving the whole book away, and that would be extremely rude of me. Instead, I’ll just encourage you to buy the book. (Or if you have Kindle Unlimited, read it for free. Trust me, you want to read it.)
- Cliched Background Characters
There were some background characters which had no imagination put into them. I do the same thing all the time and I could absolutely tear one of my books apart in a review like this, but this isn’t about me. (Thank God.)
Anyways, the characters were just so obvious and predictable. There was an old woman crocheting, with photos and porcelain dolls everywhere. I understand that the characters should be familiar and this is only one example, but I saw the same kind of repetition over and over again in the book.
MY RATING: 8.5/10
This book was fantastic. I highly encourage you to buy and read it, especially if you’re a fan of mystery, suspense, thriller, or even courtroom drama. It even has a love story. This book has something familiar for everyone to love and something new for everyone to realize they love.
Now just go click a few buttons, but it, and start reading.
NEXT IN SERIES: Her Final Breath (The Tracy Crosswhite Series) by Robert Dugoni
Turn the page. Trace the plot. Tempt the panic.