Book Review: Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Posted May 14, 2016 by meezcarrie in contemporary, Laura McNeill, mystery/suspense / 8 Comments

book review RIMSP

All Allie Marshall wants is a fresh start. But when dark secrets refuse to stay buried, will her chance at a new life be shattered forever?

Convicted of a crime she didn’t commit, Allie watched a decade of her life vanish — time that can never be recovered. Now, out on parole, Allie is determined to clear her name, rebuild her life, and reconnect with the daughter she barely knows.

But Allie’s return home shatters the quaint, coastal community of Brunswick, Georgia. Even her own daughter Caroline, now a teenager, bristles at Allie’s claims of innocence. Refusing defeat, a stronger, smarter Allie launches a battle for the truth, digging deeply into the past even if it threatens her parole status, personal safety, and the already-fragile bond with family.

As her commitment to finding the truth intensifies, what Allie ultimately uncovers is far worse than she imagined. Her own sister has been hiding a dark secret—one that holds the key to Allie’s freedom.

goodreads button RIMSP
GENRE: Mystery/Suspense
PUBLISHER: Thomas Nelson
RELEASE DATE: April 2016
PAGES: 400

my thoughts

Sister Dear by Laura McNeill is a book that captivates and intrigues as it weaves a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat. The shifting perspectives between different main characters as well as between the past and the present heightens the dramatic tension and allows for greater insight into the psychology of each character.  As with all well-written psychological suspense, Sister Dear is less of a mystery and more of a chilling look into the twisted reality of a disturbed soul.  Less time wondering who did it (although there were a couple of moments where I wondered exactly how deep this cover up extended) and more time watching for the thread that will cause it all to unravel.

From the first chapter, I was drawn into Allie’s story. I wanted to know exactly what happened the night she was arrested, what evidence did they have, why didn’t someone speak up for her? Laura McNeill answered all of my questions but she skillfully spread it out across the entirety of the novel, thus holding my attention until the last word. And, as I mentioned a moment ago, alternating perspectives between characters as well as flashbacks to the past really allowed me inside the psychology of each player in this drama and made the experience that much more enjoyable.

Bottom Line: Sister Dear is well-written, gripping, and entertaining. Though not overtly spiritual, there are some underlying themes that give me the satisfaction of redemption that I look for in every story. Particularly the healing power of forgiveness vs the pervasive destruction of bitterness. The elements of psychological suspense are riveting, and all the dynamics between the varied characters add extra depth to this aspect. While there is a hint of a romantic angle to the story, I would have loved to see this particular element developed further (which should come as no surprise to anyone).

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

My Rating: 4 stars / Enjoyed it!

Reviewer’s Note: Though Thomas Nelson is a Christian publishing house, there are a couple of VERY minor uses of the word “hell” as profanities toward the end of the book. While unfortunate, it does fit with the drama of the moment and the characters’ backgrounds.

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about the author

laura mcneill

Laura McNeill is a writer, web geek, travel enthusiast, and coffee drinker. In her former life, she was a television news anchor for CBS News affiliates in New York and Alabama. Laura holds a master’s degree in journalism from The Ohio State University and is completing a graduate program in interactive technology at the University of Alabama. When she’s not writing and doing homework, she enjoys running, yoga, and spending time at the beach. She lives in Mobile, AL with her family.

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What about you? What do you like most about psychological thrillers? Do you have a recent favorite?

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8 responses to “Book Review: Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

  1. Rachael

    I appreciate the language warning. I stay away from it because I hear it ALL the time in public here. It gets really old. I read this book, but didn’t find a review that mentioned the expletives. Personally, I like the ending to be a surprise with a bit more of a faith theme. It was definitely a well written psych thriller. Love your review.

    • Carrie

      Thanks, Rachael! 🙂 I do always try to mention any expletives I find if more than a one-time thing!

    • Carrie

      I think there were like two instances. Maybe three. And only the word “hell”. Some implication of sexual content but not explicit

  2. Carrie, your “is less of a mystery and more of a chilling look into the twisted reality of a disturbed soul” is exactly what I appreciate in a psychological thriller. I love learning what makes people tick. Well, at least in a novel, not necessarily in life. LOL.

    • Carrie

      Elaine, yes! (And lol!) Your styles are very compatible – you would enjoy this book, I think. There are layers that keep being revealed as the story progresses

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