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The Lost Sister by Russel D McLean
Cover Artist: Photo: Debora Mittelstaedt
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780312576820
Date: 15 March 2011 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Everyone in Dundee, Scotland is looking for the missing fourteen-year-old Mary Furst. The crippled Cameron Connolly, reporter for the Dundee Herald, approaches PI J. McNee and asks him to help find the girl. Aided by a former coworker, Detective Constable Susan Bright, McNee soon learns that Mary is the grandniece of local mobster David Burns. McNee tries to end the investigation, but is drawn back when his office is vandalized and another PI, a huge, hulking man named Wickes, tells him he knows what has happened to Mary.

Russell D. McLean's The Lost Sister is a fast-paced, intriguing mystery of a young girl in peril. Where is Mary Furst? Did someone abduct her or did she leave home on her own free will? The Lost Sister is not as bloody as its more mob-riddled predecessor The Good Son, but it is more psychologically horrifying. Once again, the themes of family secrets and perverse, twisted love dominant the plot. In The Good Son, a man wants to find his brother's killer. In The Lost Sister, a woman wants to find her missing daughter and another woman wants to find her sister who has been both physically and psychologically lost to her for many years.

The guilt-ridden McNee still feels responsible for the death of his fiancée Elaine. He also feels responsible for his office assistant Bill who was shot in the stomach. We learn that Bill has been permanently crippled. Returning in this sequel are Susan Bright; her father and McNee's mentor, DCI Ernie Bright; McNee's enemy DI George Lindsay; and mobster boss David Burns who keeps reminding everyone how important his family is to him. Unfortunately, he won't hesitate to kill a member of someone else's family. Ever since Elaine's death, McNee has become reclusive; he probably feels he has lost his chance at having his own family. His soft heart makes him more susceptible to believing every heart luck story he’s told.

David Burns has dark family secrets in regards to Mary. Ernie Bright has been keeping secrets from his daughter. Family life is far from perfect in The Lost Sister. This novel also introduces one of the most possessive, dominating control freaks I have read about in a mystery. This villain's love is twisted, perverse and destructive; their words are very deceitful. Fortunately, McNee is a good PI; I would hire him to find someone I love.

The Lost Sister is a sad story of how one person spent their entire life searching for love and happiness and could never find it. The ending is a bloody, tragic one that was rather graphic, shocking and horrifying. Life doesn't always have happy endings.

I found the author's writing style unnerving. The story is told in the first person from McNee's point of view as though he had written it himself. The sentences are short and clipped. Most of the time, they are mere sentence fragments. Reading them is almost like watching a film that keeps freezing. I sometimes found it difficult to distinguish between McNee's thoughts and what he was actually speaking aloud. I had to carefully read each paragraph. Also, the editor failed to realize that there are many instances where a word is missing from a sentence. Furthermore, the novel is set in Dundee, Scotland but I felt that I never really got a true sense of its people, environs and culture.

If you enjoyed Russell D. McLean's The Good Son, then The Lost Sister is a must read. Don't expect a bloody crime noir; The Lost Sister is more of a psychological suspense novel that plays on the reader's emotions. The reader will begin thinking about their own family and may want to reconnect with that parent, sibling, etc., that has disappeared from their life.

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