Today it’s my great pleasure to be rounding off the blog tour for Bad Sister by Sam Carrington. I absolutely loved Sam’s debut, Saving Sophie and so when the opportunity arose to read this one I grabbed at it. We’ll see what I thought about the book in just a moment, as soon as we’ve taken a look at what it is all about.
The Official Book Blurb
When flames rip through their family home, only teenager Stephanie and her younger brother escape unhurt. Brett always liked to play with fire, but now their dad is dead and someone has to pay the price.
Psychologist Connie Summers wants to help Stephanie rebuild her life. She has a new name, a young son and everything to live for. But when Stephanie receives a letter from someone she’d hoped would never find her, Connie is forced to question what really happened that night. But some truths are better left alone . . .
Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Bad Sister will have fans of Sue Fortin, B A Paris and Linda Green hooked till the final page.
From the moment I started to read the first chapter of this book, I could feel myself being drawn in. If there is one thing that Sam Carrington excels at (and there are definitely many more than that, believe me), it is in creating a tense and intriguing opening to a novel, one which, if you are anything like me, will compel you to read onwards because you will want to know just what is going on. That is exactly what you get when you open up the pages of Bad Sister, and is exactly what made me power through this book, just as I had its predecessor.
Now this book felt very different in tone to Saving Sophie in that the changes in the atmosphere and tension were more gradual and creeping. This is no bad thing, and in terms of creating a sense of place and setting, fitted this novel perfectly. You are faced with a two-fold story almost, that of Stephanie and her past which she is desperately trying to escape, and that of Connie, the woman who tasks herself with trying to help her. Both women have a story to tell, stories that intersect in the most surprising of ways.
While you are immediately faced with certain somewhat disturbing facts, uncovering what really happened takes a while longer. As each clue to the past is gradually revealed, readers are taken on a truly satisfying journey. There are so many twists, so many diversions, that the path to the book’s conclusion is a far from straight one and I really enjoyed not knowing quite where the story was going. There was a growing sense of foreboding from the very start, but saying that, the threat and menace wasn’t blatant, and it was more the sensation of knowing that something wasn’t quite right, rather than the characters being faced with obvious jeopardy, something which fits the narrative and the plot perfectly. Connie is a Psychologist, and the representation of psychology is the element of the book which is so effectively captured on each page, Ms Carrington using her own experience to great advantage here. Not that the moments of jeopardy didn’t eventually come. They did for Connie, and in quite a major way too.
Now we are faced with a particularly grisly death early on the book, but it is not represented in a gratuitous way. Enough is said, however, to make it very clear what has happened and the fact that it links back to Connie. But is it because of her clients or because of her past, the situation which arose that was the catalyst for her leaving the prison service? Investigating this crime brings the reader face to face with key characters from Saving Sophie, and there are references to the book that savvy readers will readily spot. They’re not enough to act as major spoilers, but do be aware that they could give away a little of what befalls the characters in that book, so you may want to read it first. That said, if you completely ignore me and forget I said anything, then both books work equally well as stand alones.
I really like the way that Sam Carrington portrays the protagonists within her book. She has a brilliant way of capturing and creating characters who are intrinsically human; that you can both admire or despise and yet still be completely invested in. Of making people who can unnerve you and also those whose nervousness, guilt and fear emanates from the page. This is especially true here as you feel Connie’s tension rising as the investigation progresses, and yet you are left to wonder how much what she feels is true, and how much paranoia brought on by her own delicate condition. You will never quite know until the very last pages.
Told from varying points of view, those of Connie, DI Lindsay Wade and a third, mystery voice from the past, you get to see all angles of the investigation, from the almost clinical police investigation to the more personal and fraught observations of Connie. That said, there are elements of the story which will surprise readers, hidden back story which once exposed go some way to explaining certain characters behaviour which otherwise seem disproportionate and out of character. What works really well here is the growing friendship between Connie and Lindsay Wade who is working the murder investigation. Wade should be keeping Connie at arm’s length – she is, after all, either a suspect or potential future victim, and yet there is some kind of kinship between the two which works really well. It would be great to see the pairing develop further in future books. It is after all one with a lot of scope.
My thanks to publishers Avon Books UK for the advance copy of Bad Sister for review, and to Sabah Khan for inviting me to join the tour. The book is available now from the following retailers.
About the Author
Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. SAVING SOPHIE, her debut psychological thriller, published in September 2016. It became a Kindle eBook bestseller, with the paperback hitting The Bookseller Heatseeker chart at #8. Sam was named an Amazon Rising Star of 2016. Her next psychological thriller, BAD SISTER, publishes in October 2017 in ebook and December in paperback.
Why not check out some of the other brilliant bloggers who took part in the tour for more reviews and features.