If you want a good psychological thriller to keep you engaged on the sunbed this year, you could do an awful lot worse than pick Jane Corry’s second novel, Blood Sisters.
Alison teaches art at evening classes, being talented but far too introverted to brave standing in front of a room full of teenagers it feels that this is the perfect solution, the trouble is, it isn’t enough to pay the bills and keep the wolf from the door, even when supplemented with her stained glass creations. Then she sees an advert to become the artist in residence at the local open prison, Alison applies and is successful and soon it is time for her to give those men who are deemed near to release a chance to find their own way of expressing themselves through art.
Kitty her half-sister is severely disabled and lives in a care home, unable to speak so that others can understand we do hear her rather fruity take on life through her thoughts which are ordered and often perceptive. Kitty was determined before her accident and that quality wasn’t removed by the accident.
With Alison becoming increasingly anxious that someone has discovered her secret, one which we can’t help but feel has its roots in the accident that both girls were in some fifteen years previously, the book soon takes on a dark and claustrophobic feel.
While neither sister was particularly ‘likeable’ both having more than the odd quirk, I did like the way the author chose to promote the lives of the disabled which felt like it was invested with far more than a gimmick in mind. The depiction of Kitty’s and the fellow resident’s, most notably Margaret and Jonny was sensitively but realistically done. This author isn’t one for fairy tales, the characters we meet have the feeling of real people even if in the earlier part of the book I did wonder how many coincidences we were expected to believe in but rest assured, even this part of the psychological thriller writer’s armoury is later revealed to be not exactly what I’d earlier assumed. While the scenes in the prison were in part used to increase the tension to the uppermost threshold, Jane Corry easily avoided the use of clichés when describing the men incarcerated there.
Given the title you can be forgiven for wondering if this is a book about a pair of siblings and their lives, and of course it is in part, but there is far more to this book than an event in the past, even if that is the hook that everything else revolves around.
Jane Corry has categorically proved with this second book (her first, My Husband’s Wife also being totally gripping) that not only can she write the twistiest and turniest of engaging thrillers but that she has nailed the absolute must for writers of this genre, her books are compelling precisely because the characters, no matter whether they are in prison or hospital or just clinging onto everyday life, are believable and consistent. People are complex and those who feature in Blood Sisters mirror that complexity in a terrifically satisfying read.
I’d like to say a big thank you to the publishers Penguin for providing me with a copy of Blood Sisters, this unbiased review is my thanks to them.