Hitchcockian spookiness in this tale of two sisters—one living, one dead—in London.
Beatrice Hemming hurries back to London from her home in New York when she hears her younger sister Tess is missing. Tess is an artist and a bit unpredictable, so it’s not clear when (or whether) she’ll turn up, but after a few days the police find her body in a public bathroom in Hyde Park. Not only that, but she had been pregnant and had just a few days before her death given birth to a stillborn child. Because Tess is found to have cuts on her arms and because her behavior had been erratic, her death is officially ruled a suicide arising from postpartum depression. But Bea is convinced Tess had been murdered. The prime suspect is Emilio Codi, Tess’ art professor, a married man who got her pregnant and who made it clear he wants nothing to do with the child. Beatrice (or Bee, as her sister called her) decides to turn detective, and she does this in part by inhabiting Tess’ former life. Bee lives in Tess’ apartment, takes over Tess’ waitressing job and even befriends someone who’d been involved with Tess in an experimental medical program during her pregnancy. Other suspects include a prominent doctor involved in this experiment to “cure” Tess’ unborn child of cystic fibrosis, and the head of a biomedical company about to make a killing in the stock market for a cure for CF. But Bee finds deeper mysteries—for example, that Emilio is not a carrier of the CF gene and hence could not be the father of her child. Lupton’s decision to make Bee the narrator—and to have her write to her dead sister—enhance the book's eeriness.
A skillfully wrought psychological thriller.