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Like A Sister by Kellye Garrett - Review

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

I picked this book up in the main library in Barnsley town centre. I was there for a meeting and noticed this on a carousel marked 'new thrillers'. I got a middle grade book while I was there too but haven't yet picked that up to read (I tend to renew my library books at least once, oops!). I am so glad I picked this up and would love to read something else by the same author. I am loving all these books that are emerging recently which are thrillers and which focus on young women, especially young women of colour. I would compare this book to How To Kill Your Family or My Sister the Serial Killer. If you have any more like these, please do let me know! 

So, Lena Scott is twenty eight and lives in the Bronx in a house that used to belong to her Gram. She has a half sister, Desiree, from whom she has been estranged for two years. She wakes up one morning and learns from the internet that Desiree has died, close to where Lena lives. She goes to the scene to see what she can find out and avoids a report, Stuart, who then works out she's Desiree's sister and starts hounding her. The police are convinced that Desiree's death was an accidental overdose - she had been clean for a while so they think she didn't know her limits and has overdosed. She died the day after her birthday, when she'd been out partying with some friends and her boyfriend, Naut. Her parents, Mel and Veronika, seem happy to accept the police's version of events, but Lena isn't. She is convinced that Desiree was on her way to Lena's house to ask for help, and got killed. 

She starts on a scavenger hunt around the city, touching on plenty of people Desiree knew - her boyfriend, her best friends Erin and Zarah, and plenty of others. Lena also really wants her sister's car and phone back, but no one seems to know where the phone is. 

The women's dad, Mel, is a famous music producer. He started his label while at college, and one of his first artists was the rapper Free. The two fell out, but not before Lena starred in one of his music videos as a three year old. The two still have beef. Lena changed her name from Mel's and doesn't have much to do with him, and never has. Mel paid for his mother's house, which is a duplex, and where Lena now lives upstairs from her grandma's partner of many years, Aunt E. Aunt E is the mother figure in Lena's life; Lena's mother died five years previously from breast cancer and Lena is now doing post graduate study and hopes to start a charity to support Black people and their families through cancer. 

Desiree has grown up with all of Mel's money and influence on her; she lived in a fancy Upper West Side apartment. She has been on reality TV so is somewhat famous and has a large following on Instagram and so forth. Two years previously, she had a car accident where the car ended up wrapped around a tree and Lena got a strange phone call from a stranger about her sister. Desiree had been using coke and this was the incident that made Lena cut her off. Desiree insisted she wasn't driving but she was charged anyway. But now she's dead, Lena wonders if the reason she was coming to the Bronx was related to the accident.

I loved this book, it's really compelling and I loved the mystery. I did guess some of the twists but others of them really took my by surprise. I'm giving this five out of five and I'll definitely keep an eye on the author. 

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