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  • Title: Sisters of Berlin
  • Author: Juliet Conlin
  • Publisher: Black and White Publishing
  • Publication Date: 16th April 2020

Copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description:

Berlin 2014.
The 25th anniversary of the fall of the Wall, and the city is gearing up for a celebration of unity and liberation. But, beneath the surface, are those for whom the divisions and allegiances of the past remain close to home.

In her hushed and leafy corner of Berlin, Nina’s life is a comfortable, conventional one– until her younger sister Marie, a free-spirited writer, is attacked and left for dead.

For Nina, Marie’s brutal demise – and that of her unborn child – tips her own carefully controlled life into a nightmare. Stonewalled by official incompetence and subterfuge, Nina begins to realise that her sister’s past and the secrets of the once-divided city are connected in unimaginable ways. As she seeks out justice for Marie, Nina becomes caught in a tangle of obsessions, lies and hidden truths that threatens to destroy her marriage, her livelihood and all that she holds dear.

My Thoughts:

Juliet Conlin is one of those authors that you just know will hold your attention and entrance you with her wonderful writing and transport you entirely to the scenes of her book, and so when I heard about Sisters of Berlin, I was keen to read it and find out what she had lined up.

It has to be said that in each of her previous books there is a wonderful human element, Conlin creates realistic characters that come alive as you read about their lives and you cannot help but become invested in them. You share in their grief, their happiness, their confusion and equally when their lives spiral out of control, you feel the disorienting crashes of that whirlpool as it tosses you to and fro. And that is much the case for Nina in this book. Her once happy life is turned upside down after the murder of her sister Marie, and she feels that she cannot rely on the police to get to the bottom of the case. Delving into the dark corners of Marie’s life, Nina discovers things about her sister that leave her questioning just how well she knew her and she is faced with some dangerous truths that shake the foundations of her life, career and family.

Using this narrative, the reader experiences the story from Nina’s perspective and watches her struggle to connect the pieces of Marie’s life as her own crashes around her. We see her try to continue with family life, being a dutiful wife and mother, trying to support her parents while avoiding their pre-existing issues. Her frustrations at not being able to connect the dots between the things she uncovers in Marie’s life feel very real and I have to admit that at times, I did want to scream and shout on her behalf.

The superb atmosphere created in the book helps the reader feel connected with the narrative, you can see the detailed locations mentioned in the book, you can smell the odours, experience unease at the situations that occur … this is an intense and enthralling read. The themes explored throughout are powerful ones, and I feel that Conlin has used a respectful and sensitive approach to ensure that readers form their own opinions based on what they read, and astutely whilst the actions and dialogue of the characters offer opposing views, it is ultimately left open for the reader to make the final decision about what is morally acceptable when it comes to secrets, mental health, domestic abuse and how we deal with them socially.

A hugely powerful read, wrought with complex and human characters who live on in your head long after you’ve finished reading. It reminds you to take note of those around you and hold them close, not take too much for granted and to tear down the barriers that separate us.

My thanks to Love Books Group for inviting me to be part of the blog tour for this book, and to Black and White Publishing for my review copy.

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