"Is there any way to uncover the truth after so many years."
Reviewed by Sandra Wurman
Posted July 13, 2015
Women's Fiction | Romance
Brenda Novak takes a look at tragically dysfunctional
households in this intriguing story that borders on
downright creepy at times -- and I mean that in a good way
-- after all it is Novak. There should be nothing more
sacred than the love and nurture of a child by their
parents. When a parent is cold and seemingly detached
children get varied messages. Some are of course hurt,
others internalize blame thinking they must be lacking
something and at the worst end of the spectrum others are
abused. And let's remember that there are many types of
abuse. Some kids are more resilient than others. Some
kids are already bordering on fragile and it doesn't take
much to take them to the brink. In THE SECRET SISTER we
find a family that has developed a talent you might say
for forgetting a tragic past. The family has done an
amazing job of burying all the facts involved in a
decade's old event. Anyone connected with that event has
been removed from the picture. You might say they cleaned
the slate and started over -- minus one member of their
THE SECRET SISTER has you believing that perhaps there
might have been a benevolent reason for removing all
evidence of that member of their family. Families protect
their own so it's not unreasonable to destroy any proof
that violence had occurred. Problem with erasing the past
is that there is always some intangible evidence that
could pop up at the most inopportune time.
Brenda Novak's Dead series evolved around a missing
person and took three books to get to the bottom of the
mystery. In THE SECRET SISTER you don't have to wait for
the conclusion -- it's cleverly plotted throughout the
story with what I believe readers will find a surprise
THE SECRET SISTER is about appearance. Appearance is
definitely a loaded term. Josephine Coldiron Lazarow
father had owned most of Fairham Island and as such the
family was well known. Needless to say small towns
generate lots of gossip but the Lazarow's had gone to
great lengths to ensure that they were not fodder for the
gossip mill. However not everyone got that message and
although there was plenty to go around about the family
the town respectfully kept it well hidden. And here's
where the story takes quite a turn.
Maisey Lazarow is returning to her hometown to lick her
wounds. Her marriage ended poorly and the loss of her
young baby girl left Maisey rather broken. She convinced
herself that this voyage home was to help her brother
Keith who by all accounts was a mess. Keith had been a
problem child and now it evidently massed into a self-
destructive man who had no direction at all.
Home is supposed to be where the heart is but for the
Lazarow children the heart of their family had died with
their father. Now ruling the roost was a cold dictator
woman -- their mother Josephine. Nothing they ever did
would be good enough for their mother and so both Maisey
and Keith had been working diligently to separate
themselves from her stronghold. But life plays some mean
tricks and both Maisey and Keith find themselves back at
a less than hospitable place but it was their home.
With the help of Rafe, an old acquaintance, Maisey starts
to uncover some rather compromising information about her
family. Information that suggests that Maisey and Keith
had another sister. Neither sibling seems to know
anything about her existence. But the more they discover
the worse the picture looks for them all especially
Josephine and Keith.
THE SECRET SISTER highly suggests some sort of sinister
end to the missing member of their family. Brenda Novak
leads us along with the characters on a path to
discovery. It is difficult to face the possibility of
foul play among family members but Novak creates a place
where a host of suspects reside -- some familiar -- some
strangers. Candidly the ending will surprise and that is
of course Novak's brilliant intent. So put on your
investigator cap and join the fun.
Did she once have a sister? Has her mother lied all these
After a painful divorce, Maisey Lazarow returns to
Fairham, the small island off the North
Carolina coast where she grew up. She goes there to healâ€”
and to help her brother, Keith, a deeply
troubled man who's asked her to come home. But she refuses
to stay in the family house. The last
person she wants to see is the wealthy, controlling mother
she escaped years ago.
Instead, she finds herself living next door to someone
else she'd prefer to avoidâ€”Rafe Romero,
the wild, reckless boy to whom she lost her virginity at
sixteen. He's back on the island, and to
her surprise, he's raising a young daughter alone.
Maisey's still attracted to him, but her
heart's too broken to risk
Then something even more disturbing happens. She discovers
a box of photographs that evoke
distant memories of a little girl, a child Keith
remembers, too. Maisey believes the girl must've
been their sister, but their mother claims there was no
Maisey's convinced that child existed. So where is she
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