Second Sister

Grove. Feb. 2020. 432p. ISBN 9780802129475. pap. $17. THRILLER
Software engineer Chan (The Borrowed) returns with a new complex and well-crafted mystery of a Hong Kong librarian searching for the truth about her teenage sister’s death. Most chapters begin with short text message exchanges between unidentified antagonists, adding tension and intrigue to the plot. Main character Nga-Yee is a hard-working, family-oriented young Chinese woman who has experienced great loss, of both family and financial stability, and is now alone in the world. The authorities say her sister’s death was by suicide, but Nga-Yee engages the reluctant help of a mysterious, taciturn cyber expert who goes simply by the letter “N”; his involvement leads to the discovery of an increasingly complicated snarl of seemingly unconnected threads that eventually reveal an unexpected puppetmaster. The story addresses timely and dark themes of society today, including teenage sexual harassment, internet bullying, organized crime, and the machinations of the digital underground.
VERDICT Chan’s appealing style will hold readers’ interest, especially those who enjoy their suspense set in international locales.

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