Winter Sisters

Viking. Feb. 2018. 416p. ISBN 9780399564253. $27; ebk. ISBN 9780399564277. F
Twelve years after their work on bloody Civil War battlefields (recounted in My Name Is Mary Sutter), William and Mary Stipp face a problem their medical expertise cannot cure. Two young sisters, Emma and Claire O'Donnell, disappeared during a brutal snowstorm that devastated Albany, NY, and killed their parents, the Stipps' close friends. Demanding police action while searching themselves, they are joined by Mary's niece, who returns from studying in Paris to escape her own secret. Just when everyone accepts the girls' likely deaths, they reappear during a massive spring flood. Alive but traumatized, they tell of kidnapping, imprisonment, and abuse. Wealthy Gerritt Van der Veer coerces his inexperienced lawyer son into defending his foreman, James Harley, against the charges. But at the sensational trial, Emma testifies that another man, not Harley, raped her. Readers likely will guess his identity well before the upright Albany citizens acknowledge the corruption that made this injustice possible. Those familiar with the first novel will have additional insight into characters, but this book stands alone.
VERDICT Oliveira blends mystery, historical detail, and courtroom drama in a compelling story that will please most historical fiction fans, especially those who enjoyed the previous novel. [See Prepub Alert, 8/28/17.]

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