About the Book:
All her life Ryan Gracey watched her perfect older sister from afar. Knowing she could never top Wendy’s achievements, she didn’t even try. Instead Ryan forged her own path while her family barely seemed to notice.
Now Wendy shares two little girls with her perfect husband while Ryan mourns the man she lost after a nearly fatal mistake in judgment. The sisters’ choices have taken them in different directions, which is why Ryan is stunned when Wendy calls, begging for her help. There’s been a murder—and Wendy believes she’ll be wrongfully accused.
While Wendy lies low, Ryan moves back to their hometown to care for the nieces she hardly knows. The sleuthing skills she’s refined as a true-crime podcaster quickly rise to the surface as she digs for answers with the help of an unexpected ally. Yet the trail of clues Wendy’s left behind lead to nothing but questions. Blood may be thicker than water, but what does Ryan owe a sister who, with every revelation, becomes more and more a stranger?
Is Wendy, who always seemed so perfect, just a perfect liar—or worse?
I'm a reader of romance novels and women's fiction. I rarely read murder mysteries, and when I do they tend to be packaged along with romance or women's fiction, like A Family of Strangers. I'm smart enough to realize that these books are fiction, but when I finish reading any book, I like to think that once I accept the premise that these people lived at a certain time in a certain place, the rest of the book could be true--even if it is stupid self-published romance about aliens--once I accept that those aliens exist, I like to be able to consider the story plausible.
This book begins with Ryan, who is a true-crime podcaster, getting a phone call from her much older sister. The sister has been out of town on business, and is afraid she is going to be framed for a murder. She needs to disappear for a while. Can Ryan watch the kids--she had left them with the grandparents, but Grandpa just had emergency heart surgery and Grandma can't handle everything. Ok, so far, so good. Maybe not the smartest move on the sister's part, but hey, I've never thought I'd be accused of murder, so who knows what was going through her mind.
Over the next few months, Ryan's sister, Wendy, drops some clues and Ryan does some sleuthing and finds out not only what likely happened to her sister, but also learned that some things about her own life weren't what she thought. At the end, my only thought was "really?". None of it made any sense. Ryan followed this trail of clues but I just don't think that if the initiating incident had happened to the characters Richards drew that the rest of the story would have gone down that way. Honestly the only halfway realistic part of the story was the romance plot and yes, surprisingly enough, she and the guy ended up together.
While Emilee Richard's books are usually favorites, I'm afraid this one just wasn't.
Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGally. Grade: C+