About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Monday, August 24, 2015

My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni

29. – 826.) My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni – Tracy Crosswhite has spent 20 years investigating the death of her sister, Sarah, which occurred after a shooting competition in the State of Washington. She left her position as a high school chemistry teacher to become a Seattle police officer where she is now a homicide detective. A previously convicted rapist, Edmund House, was found guilty of Sarah’s murder but she has found inconsistencies in the evidence at trial. With no body Tracy has been stymied.

Everything changes when a dam is taken out near her home town of Cedar Grove and Sarah’s grave is found in a shallow grave. It had been in a area covered with flood water from the dam that was completed shortly after her disappearance.

Tracy has been haunted by Sarah’s death. Tracy has felt guilty. As the older sister she felt responsible for not ensuring that Sarah got home that rainy night after the competition.

Sarah’s disappearance and death devastated Tracy’s family. Finding out what happened has become her obsession.

With new evidence available from the analysis of Sarah’s remains that supports her concerns over the trial evidence. Tracy looks for a lawyer who would be willing to challenge the conviction of House.

It is ironic that within 3 months I have now read 2 books in which police detectives work to challenge the convictions of murders with which they were involved 20 years after the murders. In None So Blind by Barbara Fradkin, one of the 2015 finalists for the Arthur Ellis Award for Best Novel, it was Ottawa Police Inspector, Michael Green who was shaken when the evidence called into question the conviction.

Dan O’Leary, who had grown up with Tracy, has returned to Cedar Grove after the breakup of his marriage in Boston and his burnout at a big law firm. He now has a modest general practice with an emphasis on criminal law. (It sounds like my practice except I do more family law.)

Dan is interested in helping Tracy and they travel to the prison in Walla Walla to see House. The creepy House, seeing his best chance at release is with them, agrees to be represented by Dan on a post-conviction relief application.

Back in Cedar Grove the prosecutor and police chief who worked together to convict House are very uneasy about the application. In a heavy handed manner they try to persuade Tracy to abandon the her pursuit of what happened 20 years ago.

A hearing in which witnesses from the original trial is held back in Cedar Grove. As in Dugoni’s book, Murder One, the courtroom action is the best part of the book.

Dan is a skilfull litigator and he has been well supplied with information from Tracy’s investigation.

I liked the book a great deal until I reached the ending which was way too Hollywood for me. It did not need that style of ending. In America it appears hard for even a courtroom drama not to have a Hollywood thriller ending. To say more would be a spoiler

My Sister’s Grave was the 3rd and final book on this shortlist for the Harper Lee Prize for Legal Fiction. My next post will discuss the 3 books and set out which book I think should win the Award which will be presented at the end of this week.
Dugoni, Robert - (2013) - Murder One and Email Exchange with Dugoni on Legal Ethics; (2014) - The Jury Master


  1. I couldn't possibly agree more, Bill, about the way 'Hollywood' endings can spoil an otherwise excellent novel. I've seen it happen too. Still, this one sounds like a well-written novel otherwise, and the setting really appeals to me. Glad you thought it had some good features.

  2. Margot: Thanks for the comment. It was a good book with enough of a twist in the detective seeking to correct a wrongful conviction.

  3. I like crime-in-the-past books and I always have an interest in Washington State from having lived there, so this sounds like a good one for me...

    1. Moira: I think you will like the book and I would be very interested to how realistic it sounds to you about life in Washington.