U.C. San Diego medical school student Shayna Darby, the narrator of Marr’s gritty debut, flies to Paris after the U.S. embassy informs her that her estranged twin sister, Angela, was fatally shot and thrown into the Seine. When Shayna visits Angela’s Paris apartment, she discovers a message written in the special code language they used as children: “Alive. Trust no one.” Convinced that Angela is indeed alive, Shayna heeds her sister’s advice and falsely identifies the body at the morgue as Angela. Back at Angela’s apartment, she finds additional clues, which will take her clandestine search for her sister into catacombs, an illegal brothel, and her sister’s frenemy’s apartment, where she stumbles on a dead body. While Shayna has an engaging voice, readers will find her train of thought at times difficult to follow. Her substantial backstory gives readers an in-depth look at the twins’ complicated relationship, though it doesn’t necessarily add to the plot. Still, the intriguing premise, along with a few twists, lend this psychological thriller some weight. Agent: Jill Marr, Sandra Dijkstra Literary. (Mar.)
DEBUT Shayna Darby hasn't seen twin sister Angela in three years, when she receives an email from Angela's boyfriend Sebastian saying, "Come to Paris. Your sister is dead." She's immediately filled with memories and regrets. An apparent homicide, Angela's body was found in the Seine River ten days after a mass shooting at the university, where she was pursuing a doctorate. Shayna, still reeling from the recent death of her parents, struggles to accept this new horror as she assumes the responsibility of packing up her sister's things. But when Sebastian opens the door to Angela's Paris apartment, Shayna immediately notices a message written in Angela's handwriting on the whiteboard above her desk. The message is coded in a language the twins developed as children, and the meaning is loud and clear to Shayna: ALIVE. TRUST NO ONE. VERDICT This debut thriller from Marr has a promising plotline but seems to get caught up in the details, moving at an achingly slow pace, as Angela's thoughts are constantly broadcasted. Still, fans of suspense who enjoy elaborate descriptions and relish knowing every thought of the protagonist will appreciate.—Cynthia Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC
Marr's debut novel follows a San Diego medical student to, around, and ultimately beneath Paris in search of the twin sister she'd been drifting away from.
"Come to Paris. Your sister is dead," neurology resident Sebastien Bronn cables Shayna Darby. No sooner does Shayna begin looking around her sister Angela's apartment, however, than she finds a message in the secret code the twins had developed as children: "ALIVE. TRUST NO ONE." Is the corpse the police fished from the Seine 10 days after a murderous attack on the Sorbonne left two of her fellow students dead really Angela Darby's? Sebastien, Angela's boyfriend, has identified it as hers, but Shayna, her suspicions on high alert, is convinced that it's not. Weighed down with resentment that Angela never came home for the funeral of their parents when they were killed in a car accident, urged on by the eerie intimacy she continues to share with her twin, and armed with the scant clues she's drawn from the documents Angela left behind, she embarks on a search she can only hope will bring them together once more. Can she trust Sebastien, whose solicitude suddenly erupts into something else when he kisses her passionately and murmurs, "Mon Angèle"? Or Jean-Luc Fillion, the foreign liaison at the American Embassy who places himself at her disposal? Or Louise Chang, the landlady whose mixed-race marriage echoes the twins' own biracial roots? Or even Inspector Valentin, who disconcertingly suggests first that Angela may have been the victim of a serial killer and then that she may herself have murdered her fellow student and frenemy Emmanuelle Wood? As she tracks down clues amid the city's historical brothels and the catacombs on which Angela had chosen to write her dissertation, Shayna feels increasingly close to her twin in ways that are both illuminating and profoundly disturbing.
Notable for its exploration of the uncanny bonds twins share and the killer's memorably macabre motive.
Marr’s debut novel follows a San Diego medical student to, around, and ultimately beneath Paris in search of the twin sister she’d been drifting away from. Notable for its exploration of the uncanny bonds twins share and the killer’s memorably macabre motive.” —Kirkus Reviews
“[A] gritty debut…the intriguing premise, along with a few twists, lend this psychological thriller some weight.” —Publishers Weekly
“Elle Marr’s first novel has an intriguing premise…The characters are well-drawn and complex, and Marr’s prose offers some surprising twists…” —New York Journal of Books
“A promising plotline…” —Library Journal
“The Missing Sister is a very promising debut—atmospheric, gripping, and set in Paris. In other words, the perfect ingredients for a satisfying result.” —Criminal Element
“Brimming with eerie mystery and hair-raising details…A chilling read that shows the unique bond of twins.” —Woman’s World
“This thrilling debut novel from Elle Marr is a look into the importance of identity and the strength of sisterhood.” —Brooklyn Digest