When Riley McPherson’s father dies, she discovers many odd secrets about her family. She does not know which ones to believe. She once had a sister, Lisa, whose behavior seriously altered the outcome of her own life and the lives of everyone in her family. Lisa had been a child prodigy. Her instrument was the violin, and the violin was named Violet. Violet becomes a minor character in the tale as does a pendant made of white Jade.
As Riley attempts to settle her father’s affairs, she also discovers that her father had a very close woman friend, Jeannie, a woman who had once been her own mother’s dearest friend, a woman who was also well acquainted with her sister. She is disturbed to discover that Jeannie, and others, seem to have been closer to her father than she herself was.
Offhanded comments, made by some of the characters, make Riley realize that there are many mysterious elements in her life that she has to investigate. Up until this time, Riley’s life was mostly about her own needs. She behaved impetuously, without thinking things through. As many of the intimate details of her life are revealed, she is profoundly affected and she continues to make rash decisions as she explores her background.
Her brother Danny was hurt in the Iraq war and he suffers from PTSD. He is not very helpful in Riley’s search for answers to the mysteries in her life or in her effort to resolve her father’s estate. He lives in a world of his own, in a trailer, pretty much removed from most of society. He is totally into himself and his own needs, but he is computer savvy and can help her in her search for information, if only she can persuade him.
The book is largely about Riley and her search for facts about her sister. There were more than a dozen years between them so she knew very little about her. It took me about 50 pages to be drawn into the narrative, and although I was eventually engaged, I never found the story very credible. I was a bit put off when the story decided to include a lesbian relationship from out of nowhere. I don’t mind reading books about alternate lifestyles, but I resent being hijacked into reading one, since there was no mention of that in any of the reviews I read. I would like to have the choice of whether or not I want to read about that type of relationship. To the author’s credit, it was handled very well, very tastefully. It never went over the top with explicit description and was never cheapened, for effect, as it is in some novels.
The novel is a bit overly melodramatic at times, and the cast of characters seemed totally dysfunctional, self-serving and immature. If there weren’t so many of them, the story might not have seemed so improbable. They were all just so needy, it disgusted me. I wanted to shout at them to grow up and accept responsibility for their own behavior without condemning and blaming everyone else for what befell them. Their behavior was just too headstrong and thoughtless, at times, and the dialogue was often trite, almost infantile, talking down to the reader, in a way.
I enjoyed this book mostly for its mindlessness. It took me away from the everyday cares that often bog us down. The book is a no-brainer, perhaps a relaxing beach read, meant solely to entertain because the outcome of this mystery is very predictable. On the positive side, there were many twists and turns to hold the attention of the reader, and as a vacation read, it would be very entertaining.