The Wicked Sister

Putnam. Aug. 2020. 304p. ISBN 9780735213036. $27. THRILLER
Rachel abruptly checks out of the psychiatric facility where she has resided for 15 years when a reporter reveals that she could not have been responsible for killing her parents, a belief she has held since age 11. Seeking answers, Rachel returns to the remote family lodge in Michigan’s pristine Upper Peninsula, where her parents, both biological scientists, studied wildlife in a place that ensured her sly, deceptive sister Diana was kept apart from society. Their mother, Jenny, struggles with evidence of Diana’s psychopathic tendencies, loving and fearing her. Both girls become expert at tracking animals, identifying wildlife, and both excel on the shooting range. Rachel has an additional special talent, understanding animal voices. When a rare albino bear is discovered, she forms a special bond with him, an act that puts their lives in grave danger. Dionne (The Marsh King’s Daughter) begins with a pleasing, pervasive sense of unease that is unfortunately rife with improbabilities by the conclusion. Moreover, the magnificent setting and convincing character study of a child psychopath are undermined by inconsistent plot details.
VERDICT Despite the story’s few flaws, Dionne knocks out a psychological thriller with a low-grade yet ever-present sense of danger. Fans of Paul Doiron and environmental thrillers may like this book. [See Prepub Alert, 1/29/20.]
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