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48 Clues into the Disappearance of My Sister
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Publishers Weekly Review
Narrated by postal worker Georgina Fulmer, this exquisite novel of suspense from Oates (Babysitter) examines a crime and its consequences. On Apr. 11, 1991, when Georgina was 23, her beautiful, talented 30-year-old sister, Marguerite, disappeared from her family home in the small Upstate New York town of Aurora-on-Cayuga. Did she leave on her own accord? Was foul play involved? Is she still alive? Georgina teasingly reveals snippets of her sister's life and the troubling interpretations given to these facts by police, relatives, friends, colleagues, town gossips, journalists, and even a psychic. In the process, she reveals her own complicated feelings for Marguerite. There are so many open questions surrounding Marguerite's disappearance that the case never really grows cold. Twenty-two years pass with suspects emerging and receding. Some lives are broken by this association, because an open police investigation "means no mercy for anyone involved." As Georgina says, "So many maybes! Yet (this is the tantalizing promise of clues!) one of these maybes however improbable and implausible is the Truth." This elegant, captivating tale is un-put-downable. Agent: Warren Frazier, John Hawkins & Assoc. (Mar.)
Booklist Review
Georgene's older sister, Marguerite, disappeared from the family home on April 11, 1991. Now, many years later, Georgene looks back on that time, reliving the disappearance and its aftermath. Oates' latest foray into crime fiction is another masterpiece of storytelling from a writer who jumps between genres and styles with amazing aplomb. The mystery of Marguerite is certainly compelling, but what really captures the reader here is Georgene herself and the way she tells the story. She seems envious, even jealous of her sister. She might even hate her, although she denies this at the outset. She refers to the police investigators, dismissively, as "fools." There are strong hints of sociopathy: "I do not like upset (unless it is an upset that I have caused myself). . . . But then I don't love anyone--much." So much more than the kind of standard-issue unreliable narrator that dominates current crime fiction, Georgene is a vastly complex character whose every word, every use of parentheses and italics, must be examined closely for intent. A thematically and stylistically ambitious novel that displays the author's literary gifts to their maximum effect.
Kirkus Review
An ugly duckling's ruminations on her swanlike older sister's disappearance unleash a flurry of emotional responses but no resolution. The last time Georgene Fulmer saw her sister, at 7:20 the morning of April 11, 1991, she didn't even see her directly but rather doubly reflected in a pair of mirrors. Wherever Marguerite Fulmer went when she left their house in Aurora-on-Cayuga, New York, it wasn't to Aurora College, where she taught sculpting and served as a junior artist in residence, and by evening, her father, stockbroker Milton Fulmer, persuaded the police to label her a missing person. Their investigation predictably goes nowhere, and the inquiries of Leo Drummard, the private eye Milton hires, add nothing but some expensive hotel bills. In the meantime, Georgene, who privately gloats that "I know what I know, that none of you will ever know," has years to reflect on her complicated relation to the sister who sailed through college and landed several prestigious fellowships while Georgene languished as a postal clerk. Or maybe it wasn't so complicated: "I hated her and would never forgive her." Did Marguerite run off to avoid the unwanted attentions of stolid research biologist Walter Lang? Did she fall victim to the Wolf's Head Lake Killer, who confesses to murdering a dozen area women? Or was she killed by her own sister, as one especially hallucinatory section suggests? Whatever her fate, she seems likely to live on only in the shockingly explicit paintings of Elke, ne Howard Strucht, the preening senior artist in residence who brought her to Aurora, and in Georgene's troubled, essayistic reflections within reflections. A kaleidoscopic portrait of an unforgettable woman whose memory everyone honors only by distorting it. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
What has become of Marguerite Fulmer? On an otherwise average day in Upstate New York, the young woman left her family home, never to return. No note was left, no explanation; just a messy bedroom and her sister Gigi, driven to dig through the meager clues and discover the truth behind her disappearance.

As the investigation unfolds, every subtle bit of evidence becomes a potential clue. The silk Dior slip dress, left in a heap on the floor; the impression of Ferragamo boots outside in the dirt, a trail of footsteps that abruptly ends before it leaves the yard. And as Gigi trails the detectives, she finds previously unknown troubles in the life of her perfect, gorgeous, much-loved sister?troubles that at times seem to reflect her own.

Bit by bit, like ripping the petals off a flower blossom, a dark truth is revealed. And subtly, but with the unbearable suspense at which Joyce Carol Oates excels, clues mount and bring to light the fate of the missing beauty.

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