Raleigh author Diane Chamberlain unravels a tightly guarded family secret in her newest novel, “The Silent Sister.”
Her main character, Riley MacPherson, starts digging into her father’s past after he suffers a heart attack and dies while grocery shopping in a Food Lion in New Bern. As Riley works to settle his estate, she unearths a series of family secrets – including the fact that her older sister Lisa, said to have committed suicide as a teenager, is actually alive.
Chamberlain, a New Jersey native who also lived and worked in Virginia, was a social worker and psychotherapist before becoming a best-selling author. She writes stories focused on relationships that have an element of mystery and suspense in them.
“Family drama is always a part of what I write,” she says. “I love to have twists and turns in my books.”
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Of her new novel, Suspense Magazine wrote, “ the readers of this tale will be surprised and shocked by the unveiling of a truth that they will never guess up front. Chamberlain has written an excellent novel with well-thought out plotlines that never lose the suspense lover’s interest for one solitary second.”
Since her first book was published in 1989, Chamberlain has turned out 23 books, almost one per year. “There was divorce in there, that killed one year,” she says with a laugh. Her books are massively popular in Ireland and England, making her an international best-seller. Some of her most loved books are “The Secret Life of CeeCee Wilkes” and “Brass Ring.” Her novel from 2013, “Necessary Lies,” is the Target book club pick for October (the edition sold at Target features an exclusive letter from Chamberlain).
Chamberlain’s stories explore complex relationships between men and women, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and friends.
“Chamberlain likes to explore the secrets family hold and withhold from family members,” says North Carolina mystery writer Margaret Maron.
Chamberlain and Maron are members of a group of female writers who call themselves the “Weymouth Seven,” because they gather for an annual writing retreat at the Weymouth Center in Southern Pines. The other writers are Sarah Shaber, Mary Kay Andrews, Katy Munger, Alexandra Sokoloff and Brenda Witchger.
Munger describes Chamberlain as “the real deal. She writes these meticulously plotted, multigenerational stories about families, relationships and secrets.
“We all have secrets, we all have dreams and we all have relationships that define our lives,” Munger continues. “Diane explores those issues in such a delicate and nuanced way.”
Shaber, another North Carolina-based mystery writer, says, “She has such a wonderful heart. She puts it all in her writing. I think that’s one reason her books are so popular. She likes nothing better than to help people.
“Her books are about people coping with their lives,” Shaber says. “Her books are very realistic. It’s happening somewhere to somebody. Her stories are not outrageous or impossible.”