Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Short Takes: My Sister's Grave by Robert Dugoni


I find myself in kind of an interesting position with Robert Dugoni's My Sister's Grave. This 2014 novel is the first in Dugoni's Tracy Crosswhite series (although it was preceded by what appears to be a short story and a novella in which the character appears), and the only other book from the series I've read is 2021's In Her Tracks. So I first met Tracy as a more settled and mature cop who was definitely marked by the abduction and murder of her younger sisters when they were still teens. That experience was a life-changing experience for Tracy, of course, but I didn't come away with the true awfulness of what happened all those years earlier - or all the little nuances involved in having something like that murder occur in a very small, and relatively isolated, Washington town.

In My Sister's Grave Dugoni gives us a coming-of-age/origin story that begins when the two girls are small children and explains why and how they became such close sisters despite the four-year difference in their ages. Because Tracy had such a second-mother-like relationship with her fifteen-year-old sister, and because she was the last person to see the girl alive, she carried a constant feeling of guilt around with her for the next twenty years.

The novel begins, in fact, twenty years after the murder when all of the research done by Tracy during her off-duty hours as a member of the Seattle police department finally begins to pay off by creating doubts about the way the murder trial of her sister's killer was handled. Now Tracy is on a mission to expose the truth about what really happened all those years ago - but to do so she will first have to free the man who has been in prison for 20 years. Be careful what you wish for.

My Sister's Grave is a really good introduction to the series to follow, especially because of Dugoni's skill in creating a fully-fleshed and believable character like Stacy Crosswhite. Even some of the side characters I expect to see in future books are very well presented here. But the book's final chapters are really a fairly run-of-the-mill thriller plot in which it always feels like only a matter of time (usually at the very last second) before the heroine and other good guys find the miracle they need to survive. 

I would give this one three stars out of five, definitely enough here to make me want to read the next one.


  1. I read this one last year and liked Tracy, though I felt the whole plot was a little bit formulaic at times. But it did make me want to read more of Dugoni's mysteries. And I really liked the third book, In the Clearing, which I read just last month.

    1. That was pretty much my reaction, too. Cop goes back home to resolve old crime...check. Old childhood friend morphs into a lover while there...check. Two great dogs everyone finds it impossible to love...check. Big finale in the middle of a severe snowstorm at an isolated site...check.

      Like you, I have read a later one (the 8th) so I'm readily going to go back to the series at some point because I reacted differently to the later one.


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