The Half Sister by Sandie Jones is a whirlwind ride of a suspense novel, full of unexpected twists, turns all within one family, where each member is hiding their own damaging secrets. This is another strong offering in the domestic suspense / psychological thriller genre that is currently quite popular. The Half Sister is Sandie Jones’ third novel, following both The First Mistake and The Other Woman, which was a Reese Witherspoon Sunshine Book Club Pick in late 2018.
Joining their mother for the routine Sunday dinner after the death of their father, Kate and Lauren begrudgingly go through the emotions of a seemingly normal family whose cracks have become more and more apparent. The sister’s relationship was never very solid and the death of their father, and their opposing memories of him creates a deeper divide with each family dinner.
On a typical Sunday, the group receives an expected visitor named Jess who promptly announces that she is the daughter of their father, which makes her Kate and Lauren’s half sister. Each sister has their own reaction to Jess, which spans the spectrum from complete denial that their father would have had a secret daughter (Kate) to intrigue that the stranger may be telling the truth (Lauren). Jess does have scientific proof in the form of a DNA test that, on the surface, proves her claims.
As the weeks wear on, Jess has an uncanny ability to cause more and more friction between the sisters and their mother, who also harbors doubts about their father and a possible secret life. As Kate delves into spotty memories of the past, she realizes that there are a handful of unexplained behaviors from her father that make her doubt her memories of him as the “perfect” father.
Lauren, who believes Jess, is on a quest to discover the truth which leads her to a decades old mystery that has never been solved. The trail leads right back to the family and a past that has been strictly off limits. When the truth begins to rise to the surface, the twists and turns come in quick succession. I really enjoyed The Half Sister, especially the second half of the book when the tension, theories, and accusations come to the shocking conclusion.