Bad Sister: ‘Tense, convincing… kept me guessing’ Caz Frear, bestselling author of Sweet Little Lies Paperback – 14 Dec 2017
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Praise for Sam Carrington’s books…
‘Tense and dark, you’ll be gripped by this thrilling read’ The Sun
'I absolutely loved Bad Sister! It's a fantastic, unpredictable novel that deals with secrets and identity, and how the past affects the present. Sam Carrington has created such a relatable main character; I was rooting for her from the start.' Elisabeth Carpenter, author of 99 Red Balloons
‘Compelling, pacy and all absorbing. Another cracking read from Sam Carrington!’ Jane Isaac, author of The Lies Within
‘This book is not only gripping, but it explores the mother/daughter relationship perfectly, and ends with a gasp-out-loud twist’ Closer
‘I devoured this story in one sitting’ Louise Jensen, author of The Sister
‘A tense, pacy read. This story’s enough to put you off social media!’ Isabel Ashdown
‘So unbelievably gripping it should be classed as a dangerous substance’ Waterstones Bookseller Review
‘This book will have you on the edge of your seat and gasping after every chapter’ Waterstones Bookseller Review
About the Author
Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for 15 years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a Psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist.
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One of the main characters in Bad Sister is Stephanie, a young woman terrified for her life as her past comes back to haunt her, even though she thought her new identity and new start meant she would always be safe. Connie Summers, Stephanie's psychologist, wants to help her confront her issues and fears but as Connie and Stephanie try to work together to confront Stephanie's secret, Connie too is forced to confront her own dark family secrets -suddenly made even more complicated by the discovery of a mutilated body...
I think the thing I enjoyed most about this book was the number of surprises and the fact I was constantly pulled in the opposite direction from where I thought we were headed. I'm afraid I'm not a reader who is too bothered about whether I can 'spot the twist' or 'guess the ending' because I love to lose myself in the writer's words, characters and their delivery of a convincing and compelling story - but if I was one such reader, I really wouldn't have seen the end coming in Bad Sister! And if we were to talk about shocking twists and stunning endings, well this one is pretty awesome and deliciously chilling!
Bad Sister has several different viewpoints but it mainly alternates between Connie and DI Wade, the detective working on the case of the mutilated body, with the interjection of an anonymous voice who appears sporadically in italics to add further intrigue and suspense. There is also "Brett" and some chapters entitled "Then", so although the structure of the novel is quite complicated, Carrington's control over the placement of each different section is tight, impressively managed and very effective. There are many different plotlines to keep hold of and at times it feels as if you are knitting a very difficult pattern with these various interlinking strands, but the reader is in masterful hands and Carrington makes sure we never drop a stitch nor end up with any missing gaps by the time we have reached the last page. I was impressed with the level of complexity in the novel which although ambitious, makes for a much more exciting, unpredictable and gripping read.
I enjoyed the characterisation as well. It is hard to know quite how I felt about these characters, they're so flawed, vulnerable and dark - guilty yet also victims, confused yet controlling - but I liked that they challenged stereotypes. I didn't always automatically align myself with DI Wade, a member of the police force set to protect the public and solve a crime, and I liked that Connie wasn't entirely trustworthy or reliable despite being a psychologist whose job is to support emotionally fragile people. I liked that not all the characters were who they said they were and not all what they claimed to be. Carrington's characterisation is very impressive. These are characters that will fascinate and intrigue the reader. They create drama, suspense, tension and emotional complications.
This is a great book to immerse yourself in. It is multilayered and includes a police procedural, crimes in the present, crimes in the past, the prison service, mental health and plenty about families. It's a great read, a perfect thriller with depth, complex characters and a storyline that weaves a wicked web that you cannot help but get tangled up in. Put yourself in Carrington's hands and prepare yourself for an explosive read!
Now this book felt very different in tone to Saving Sophie in that the changes in the atmosphere and tension were more gradual and creeping. This is no bad thing, and in terms of creating a sense of place and setting, fitted this novel perfectly. You are faced with a two-fold story almost, that of Stephanie and her past which she is desperately trying to escape, and that of Connie, the woman who tasks herself with trying to help her. Both women have a story to tell, stories that intersect in the most surprising of ways.
While you are immediately faced with certain somewhat disturbing facts, uncovering what really happened takes a while longer. As each clue to the past is gradually revealed, readers are taken on a truly satisfying journey. There are so many twists, so many diversions, that the path to the book’s conclusion is a far from straight one and I really enjoyed not knowing quite where the story was going. There was a growing sense of foreboding from the very start, but saying that, the threat and menace wasn’t blatant, and it was more the sensation of knowing that something wasn’t quite right, rather than the characters being faced with obvious jeopardy, something which fits the narrative and the plot perfectly. Connie is a Psychologist, and the representation of psychology is the element of the book which is so effectively captured on each page, Ms Carrington using her own experience to great advantage here. Not that the moments of jeopardy didn’t eventually come. They did for Connie, and in quite a major way too.
Now we are faced with a particularly grisly death early on the book, but it is not represented in a gratuitous way. Enough is said, however, to make it very clear what has happened and the fact that it links back to Connie. But is it because of her clients or because of her past, the situation which arose that was the catalyst for her leaving the prison service? Investigating this crime brings the reader face to face with key characters from Saving Sophie, and there are references to the book that savvy readers will readily spot. They’re not enough to act as major spoilers, but do be aware that they could give away a little of what befalls the characters in that book, so you may want to read it first. That said, if you completely ignore me and forget I said anything, then both books work equally well as stand alones.
I really like the way that Sam Carrington portrays the protagonists within her book. She has a brilliant way of capturing and creating characters who are intrinsically human; that you can both admire or despise and yet still be completely invested in. Of making people who can unnerve you and also those whose nervousness, guilt and fear emanates from the page. This is especially true here as you feel Connie’s tension rising as the investigation progresses, and yet you are left to wonder how much what she feels is true, and how much paranoia brought on by her own delicate condition. You will never quite know until the very last pages.
Told from varying points of view, those of Connie, DI Lindsay Wade and a third, mystery voice from the past, you get to see all angles of the investigation, from the almost clinical police investigation to the more personal and fraught observations of Connie. That said, there are elements of the story which will surprise readers, hidden back story which once exposed go some way to explaining certain characters behaviour which otherwise seem disproportionate and out of character. What works really well here is the growing friendship between Connie and Lindsay Wade who is working the murder investigation. Wade should be keeping Connie at arm’s length – she is, after all, either a suspect or potential future victim, and yet there is some kind of kinship between the two which works really well. It would be great to see the pairing develop further in future books. It is after all one with a lot of scope.
There are many complexities within this story but they all link up in the end.
This book required concentration because of the complexities of the plot, but I like that. I would recommend this to anyone who reads the crime thriller genre and will be reading more from Sam Carrington in the future.
Bad Sister is a character-driven novel that soon draws you in. Well written, plenty of intrigue, and enough twists and turns to keep you off-balance. A great book!
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