Love Thy Sister by Maria Grazia Swan

When Mina leaves her native Italy to join her older sister, the mysterious Paola, in California, the two near-strangers quickly become best friends. After a terrible accident at Paola’s business, Mina discovers a dark conspiracy she can barely understand, but she is determined to help Paola however she can. After all, there is no closer tie than blood. However, whose blood will it be? The answer lies within the pages of “Love Thy Sister” by Maria Grazia Swan.

Paola simply adores her little sister. She has built a good life for herself in America—thanks in part to a healthy divorce settlement from her abusive first husband—and she happily shares her wealth and wisdom with Mina. Mina comes to love Paola as well, and tries to provide emotional support for her through her second husband Michael’s extra-marital affairs. Then, one weekend, everything starts to fall apart. A young woman is killed at the office of Paola’s business, West Coast Software.

A tragic accident? Maybe, but the police don’t think so—and the autopsy report bears them out. The young woman was killed by an intentional overdose of cocaine, injected into a chocolate candy. Naturally, many questions arise. Who could have poisoned the candy? Was the young woman the real target? And if not, then who was?

The bad news escalates when Paola reveals that West Coast Software is in financial trouble. Merchandise has been disappearing, including some that had been stored for another company, and the sisters believe that Michael is behind the thefts. Paola battles against time to save her business. She must find the missing merchandise, or replace it—fast! However, her credit is tapped out, and all that is left is her house…their home. Mina feels lost, confused, and frightened, unsure how to help her sister now. The only good point in the whole mess is sexy amateur detective Brian Starrs. The situation intensifies from bad to worse when Mina discovers that her boyfriend is a married man. Worst of all, Paola is found dead—allegedly a suicide. Mina turns more and more to Brian, who seems to be the only one who can straighten out the tangled web of crime surrounding her.

Swan spices the narrative with dashes of Italian to lend a touch of the exotic and credibility to the sister’s Italian origin. The language is mild, no severe cussing or explicit sex scenes, and the crime language is fairly tame as well. Paola comes across a bit cold, but Mina is an appealing heroine, and Brian Starr is a true good guy —a detective with a heart of gold, smart and sexy and just plain nice. The other characters —the company’s ditzy secretary, Paola’s husband Michael, and investigating detective De Fiore —are generally well developed and believable.

The main problem with the book is weak editing. There are too many typos and grammatical errors to be ignored, and the characters seem to act illogically at times. These plot inconsistencies distract the reader from the underlying drama, which is a pity, because “Love Thy Sister” really has a good story line, with plenty of twists and thrills.

Buy this book: Love Thy Sister

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