Hot on the heels of yesterday’s post when I re-shared my review of Juliet Conlin’s The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days, today I am sharing my review of her latest novel Sisters of Berlin. Juliet joined me back in April to share #TenThings about herself. You can read that post here: TenThings about Juliet Conlin
One thing I am really impressed about with the Juliet Conlin books I have read is that they are all so different! The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days was such a memorable book and had such a clever structure. The Lives Before Us was a compelling historical novel which taught me a lot about Jewish refugees in Shanghai in WW2, something I knew nothing about. Sisters of Berlin is a literary murder mystery set in Berlin around the 30th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.
The two sisters of the title are Nina and Marie. At the start of the story, Marie has been found in her apartment having suffered a violent attack. It’s not a spoiler to tell you that she dies and so does her unborn child. The story then looks at the subsequent investigation into her murder as well as its effect on Nina and her family and offers glimpses into Marie’s past too.
Nina didn’t know that Marie had been pregnant and it soon becomes clear that there was much more she didn’t know about her sister. After the initial shocking revelations, gradually other parts of Marie’s life come to light which just added to the mystery of the book and made for a compelling read. Past problems for Nina resurface and I think this was her way of trying to take control in a situation that was very much out of her control. Nina had felt she had had a close relationship with Marie and it must have been hard to realise there was so much her sister hadn’t shared with her. The effects on Nina’s relationship with her parents, husband and children is also explored and showed the way this act of violence impacted on the whole family in different ways.
Sisters of Berlin is a well written, engaging novel. The murder investigation element kept my attention throughout as I tried to work out who was responsible and what their motive was. I also felt so much compassion for Nina, not just because of the loss of her sister but because finding out all these secrets about her sister must have felt like another loss, the loss of the sister she thought she knew. Sisters of Berlin is a compelling read in an evocative setting which looks insightfully at loss, grief, secrets and moving on.
My thanks to Kelly at Love Books Group for inviting me to take part in the tour and to the publishers Black and White for my review copy of the book. Sister of Berlin is available now as an ebook and in paperback. Please order your copy from an independent bookshop if possible. Otherwise, you can order a Kindle copy here: Sisters of Berlin
From the back of the book
A young writer is brutally attacked in her home and left for dead. For her sister Nina Bergmann, it’s the beginning of a nightmare that will threaten to destroy her marriage, her job and ultimately her life. As she sets out to unravel the truth about what really happened to her sister, Nina comes face-to-face with inner demons she believed long since banished and discovers that her sister’s past and that of the once-divided city are intertwined in unimaginable ways. The Wall may be gone, but its legacy still haunts Berlin . . .
About the author
Juliet Conlin was born in London and grew up in England and Germany. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Lancaster University and a PhD in Psychology from the University of Durham. She works as a writer and translator and lives with her family in Berlin. Her novels include The Fractured Man (Cargo, 2013), The Uncommon Life of Alfred Warner in Six Days (Black & White, 2017), The Lives Before Us (Black & White, 2019).
Black & White Publishing was founded in 1999 by Managing Director Campbell Brown and Publishing Director Alison McBride. Since then, the business has grown into one of Scotland’s leading independent publishers with over 300 books in print across a variety of genres. Committed to publishing the best books from the most talented writers in the UK and beyond, some of our bestselling authors include Daniela Sacerdoti, James Robertson, Estelle Maskame, Nick Alexander, Richard Gordon, Alex Norton, Millie Gray, Sally Magnusson and Tony Black. We produce an extensive range of titles, including general non-fiction, biography, sport and humour, as well as selected fiction, young adult and children’s books.
This year, we’ve started an exciting new alliance with PGUK who now provide sales representation for our titles, and GBS continue to distribute our books. Our eBooks are distributed by Faber Factory. Over recent years, our range of fiction has grown following recent eBook successes such as Daniela Sacerdoti’s Glen Avich series, which has sold nearly a million copies to date. These new alliances and our e-book successes are helping us shape and develop the list in new ways to bring more exciting new titles to both local and global markets.