Book review: My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

My Sister’s Grave
Robert Dugoni

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

If you’re looking for a series starter, you might want to check out My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni. Published in 2014, it’s the first in a crime and courtroom series about Tracy Crosswhite, a homicide detective with the Seattle Police Department, sure that the investigation of her sister’s murder twenty years earlier was handled improperly.

Sarah Crosswhite, then eighteen, disappeared after the sisters competed in a sharp shooting contest. She’d headed home by herself to Cedar Grove, Washington in heavy rain and although police located her truck on a back road, Sarah’s body was never recovered. Edmund House, however, recently released from prison for rape, confessed to the murder and was sentenced to the state penitentiary in Walla Walla. After Sarah’s murder, Tracy fell apart. She quit her teaching job and moved to Seattle to become a detective, hoping to use her skills to uncover what she believed was a conspiracy to frame House. Although she finally put the boxes of evidence in a back closet, her drive to solve the crime cost Tracy her marriage.

Like Tracy, the once-thriving community of Cedar Grove has never been the same since Sarah’s murder, suffering emotionally and economically. And when hunters uncover Sarah’s remains, people in the town, including Sheriff Roy Calloway, want to let things be. “What’s done is done,” says Calloway. But, now, after all these years, this is Tracy’s chance to finally set things right and she returns with a lot of questions. Why are items found at the gravesite inconsistent with prior evidence and why did no one follow up on weak testimonies? Tracy’s more complicated motivation, however, stems from overwhelming guilt in letting her younger sister return alone after the shooting competition, an act of selfishness that she feels led to her father’s and later her mother’s death. She’s the only Crosswhite left and must do right by Sarah. She turns to her childhood friend Dan O’Leary for help. Dan, a lawyer and recently divorced, has returned to Cedar Grove. Could something more develop between them?

I enjoyed this story about family loyalty and how small communities deal with violent crime, together and individually. Dugoni creates a nice home town feel in Cedar Grove and shows how things are not always how they seem. He raises the question of media coverage and whether some things are better left alone, when “those answers could do more harm than good.” I recommend My Sister’s Grave to readers who like crime and romance stories that are relatively nonviolent and clean with a good plot and satisfying finish.

If you’d rather hear an audio verison of my review, you can check it out here on SoundCloud:

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23 thoughts on “Book review: My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

    1. Hi Mischenko – after reading a heavy book, I enjoyed this one very much. I’m not much of a series reader, but I think this is probably a good one. Thank you for reading and commenting! Hope your fish are doing well 🙂

    1. Hi Cathy – Being an older book, I wasn’t sure how relevant it was, but when you read a series, it’s good to start at the beginning! Thank you for the visit – hope you are doing well 🙂

  1. I like story about small community and family tie. It’s true that sometime things are better left alone without being exposed. Great review, Barbara.

    1. Hi Janakay – yes I’ve occasionally started a book that’s in the middle of a series and have had to play catch up to understand all the background! Thanks for the visit 🙂

    1. Hi Noelle – oh the problems of starred reviews! For me, I reserve 4 and 5 stars for my best reading experiences. I like a lot of 3 star books and I thought this was better than most in that category. I was definitely entertained by it, but it was also pretty typical. We actually had a great discussion about genres and what readers like and expect at my mystery book club group – this checks off all the boxes and that’s what readers want, so in that sense it was a very good read. I guess it just didn’t wow me like other books I’ve read. Hope that makes sense! Thank you for reading and commenting.

    1. Hi Robbie – I did like it very much but I also felt it was a little formulaic so in that sense it didn’t have as much of an impact on me. Still a very entertaining story, but a little light despite the serious subject. Thank you for stopping by!

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