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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

48 Clues into the Disappearance of My Sister

ISBN: 9781613163818

Publisher: Penzler Publishers

Mysterious Press

Publication Date: 03/14/2023

Format: Hardcover

My Rating: 4 Stars (ARC)

When a woman mysteriously vanishes, her sister must tally up the clues to discover her fate.

Marguerite, a beautiful woman, has disappeared from her small town in Upstate New York. But is foul play involved? Or did she merely take an opportunity to get away for fun, or finally make the decision to leave behind her claustrophobic life of limited opportunities?

Her younger sister Gigi wonders if the flimsy silk Dior dress, so casually abandoned on the floor, is a clue to Marguerite’s having seemingly vanished. The police examine the footprints made by her Ferragamo boots leaving the house, ending abruptly, and puzzle over how that can help lead to her. Gigi, not so pretty as her sister, slowly reveals her hatred for the perfect, much-loved, Marguerite.

Bit by bit, like ripping the petals off a flower blossom, revelations about both sisters are uncovered. Subtly, but with the unbearable suspense at which Joyce Carol Oates excels, clues mount up to bring to light the fate of the missing beauty.

My Review

A long-time fan of Joyce Carol Oates, 48 CLUES INTO THE DISAPPEARANCE OF MY SISTER —is a fascinating, alluring, and intriguing mystery about a missing sister from an unreliable narrator.

Georgene Fulmer, 23 years old (the awkward younger, not-so-pretty sister), last saw her sister in upstate New York on the morning of April 1991.

Marguerite Fulmer, 30 yrs. old was beautiful and striking. She taught sculpting and served as a junior artist in residence. She was private about the men in her life.

Their father, Milton, a stockbroker, calls in the police for a missing person report. The investigation led by Leo, the PI hired by the father, goes nowhere, as well as the police investigation.

Georgene is an ordinary postal worker with no friends and is jealous of her sister. What happened to Marguerite? Did Georgene have anything to do with her missing sister? Is she a murderer?

Or was it the Wolf's Head Lake killer?

M. was an artist, and G. was a poet, despite her poems being secret.

Are the clues hidden in her art, her sculptures?

Georgene is the narrator of this dark, moody, mysterious, creepy, gothic-like, atmospheric mystery. Did she leave on her own accord? Was foul play involved? Is she still alive? Is something sinister at play?

She feels their father always preferred Marguerite and feels sad about their mother's death. Georgene is depressed and lonely.

With each page, you feel a sense of foreboding and do not know where the author is leading you. You need to enjoy the ride, taking you into the disturbing and chilling thoughts of G. Her inner thoughts are spellbinding, almost dream-like blurring lines between reality and imagination.

Thoughts from psychics, journalists, police, PI, family, friends, and colleagues—all have their opinions.

Will M. come home? There are rumors of her being involved with a man. Was she murdered by a lover? Or does it have to do with a colleague of M.'s art school, Elke? Or did she leave this small town on her own accord? Or will M remain one of the many women each year who go missing and never are found?

Character-driven, Oates draws you in with her prose, choppy sentences, and clues. Not all clues are physical, but more about reactions, speculations, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. A dress, a mirror, art, reflections, people, places, her art world, etc. The novel is both a character study and a social commentary on society.

After twenty-two years, no answers. The answers remain ambiguous. As the reader, you will need to draw your own conclusion. Joyce Carol Oates is a prolific writer, and her latest is another example of her brilliant skill and craft.

For fans of literary fiction, detective mysteries, and character-driven novels.

Thank you to Penzler Publishers, Mysterious Press via NetGalley, for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: Mar 14, 2023

My Rating: 4 Stars


"A kaleidoscopic portrait of an unforgettable woman whose memory everyone honors only by distorting it."

― Kirkus

"[An] exquisite novel of suspense … This elegant, captivating tale is un-put-downable." ― Publishers Weekly Starred Review

"In 48 Clues into the Disappearance of My Sister, Oates has added another disturbing character to her bountiful cast of strange people and devised another chilling work, one that will slot into the vast canon for which she is justly renowned."

― New York Journal of Books

"Another masterpiece of storytelling from a writer who jumps between genres and styles with amazing aplomb.… A thematically and stylistically ambitious novel that displays the author’s literary gifts to their maximum effect."― Booklist starred review

"The latest by celebrated author Joyce Carol Oates is not just a ripping good mystery, but a meticulous character study executed as only she can."

― Los Angeles Magazine

"A literary thriller that’s written as a memoir ― perfect for all the Daisy Jones & the Six fans out there."

― Katie Couric Media

"I couldn't put it down."

― Christina Ianzito, AARP

"A writer of extraordinary talents."

― Guardian

About the Author

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of more than 70 books, including novels, short story collections, poetry volumes, plays, essays, and criticism, including the national bestsellers We Were the Mulvaneys and Blonde. Among her many honors are the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and the National Book Award. Oates is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and has been a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters since 1978.



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