The Difficult Sister by Judy Nedry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I received an ARC of The Difficult Sister by Judy Nedry from StoryCartel.com in exchange for my honest review.
Melody Wyatt has a sister, Aurora Johnson, she has not heard from in 3 weeks. While Aurora is a free spirit who goes wherever that spirit moves her to go, she does maintain contact with her sister, Melody, if only to tell Melody about her current love interest who she may be following to some far corner of the earth where she's sure to find true love and happiness at last. Aurora is 50 years old, and she's had 5 husbands. Chances are she's off following her latest heart throb, but it still is unlike her to be out of touch with Melody for this long.
Recently Aurora had moved to Radnor, Oregon, where she had some cosmetic surgery along with make-up changes so that she was quite the attractive catch for any man looking for some arm-candy who liked to have a good time. She had hooked up with a man named Cliff Baker. She'd taken him to meet Melody once when they were on their way to his home, and as Melody remembered Cliff, he scared her more than just a little bit. Sometime after this introduction to Cliff, Aurora called Melody during the middle of the night in quite a panic, telling her something awful had happened and she needed to get out of there immediately. That was the last time Melody heard from Aurora.
Melody tried several times to call Aurora on her cell phone, but she never got an answer except for just once when Cliff Baker answered the phone, telling Melody that Aurora had left him. He didn't know where she went, and he certainly wasn't interested in helping to look for her or in finding her.
Which is why Melody decided she would go to the last place she knew Aurora had been: Bandon, Oregon, close to where Cliff Baker was supposed to be living. There was just one slight hitch -- Melody's husband, Dan, did not like the idea of his wife going off on a wild goose chase by herself. Melody, though she loved her husband of 32 years dearly, did not want him to go with her. Enter Emma Golden, who has been Melody's best friend for more than two decades. Melody's husband would be satisfied for her to go off Aurora hunting if Emma were to go with her. Emma, given this set of circumstances, could hardly say no.
The story continues from there with surprises, twists, and turns to provide a very satisfying mystery concerning where on earth Aurora might be. But The Difficult Sister is not merely a mystery about a missing woman who makes bad life choices. It's also the story of what makes a friendship work, particularly for women in the middle of their lives when the issues of children and career building have been settled. I enjoyed how Judy Nedry made both Emma and Melody strong characters each with her own ideas about how situations should be handled when the other half of their duo couldn't disagree more. When do the ties that bind friends together become too strained to keep the friendship intact as opposed to becoming broken beyond repair. For women of this age group, with the passage of time, and with any luck at all, wisdom from past experience helps guide women toward better choices than they made when young. I enjoyed reading Emma's thought processes; how she came to the conclusions she reached, and how she moved forward once she had thought through the problems she and Melody encountered. Both women certainly gave me some white-knuckle moments, but then that's what I want from a good mystery whatever form it may take. Nedry delivers on plot, character development, and what ended up being quite necessary to the story: a sense of place. Nedry has an eye for the details necessary to pull the reader into the mood she is developing as well as the description necessary for the mind's eye to see what we need to see to keep the story real. There is a part of the book that takes place in an isolated area near where Melody and Emma were staying that figured predominantly in the story line. By the time I finished reading that section, I felt drained, wet... No, make that drenched, and covered with mud. I also had a death grip on my Kindle. That is exactly what a well written mystery should do for the reader, and in my opinion, Judy Nedry got it perfectly.
I was unfamiliar with Judy Nedry's writing when I downloaded her book from StoryCartel.com. After finishing The Difficult Sister, the first thing I did was go to Amazon and buy her first book, An Unholy Alliance. It was not necessary to read the first book before reading the second installment, which was another thing I liked about The Difficult Sister. I never felt like I was missing part of Emma Golden's story because I had not read the books in order. I do look forward, however, to getting to know both Emma and Melody a little better, and I'm hoping there will be a third book in this series. It's that good.
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