The Better Sister

The Better Sister

From Alafair Burke—New York Times bestselling author of the runaway hit, The Wife—comes another twisty tale of domestic noir. When a prominent Manhattan lawyer is murdered, two estranged sisters—one the dead man’s widow, the other his ex—must set aside mistrust and old resentments . . . but can they escape their past?Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters,...

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Title:The Better Sister
Author:Alafair Burke
Rating:

The Better Sister Reviews

  • Norma * Traveling Sister

    Elaborate, suspenseful, and twisty!

    THE BETTER SISTER by ALAFAIR BURKE is an exciting, intriguing, engrossing, disturbing, and fantastic domestic mystery/thriller that had me totally absorbed in this emotionally complex storyline. I was fully immersed and totally interested in the mystery and the interaction between these two sisters, Chloe and Nicky as it was quite dynamic.

    ALAFAIR BURKE is such a fabulous storyteller and has this way of hooking you in right away with her extremely fast-paced na

    Elaborate, suspenseful, and twisty!

    THE BETTER SISTER by ALAFAIR BURKE is an exciting, intriguing, engrossing, disturbing, and fantastic domestic mystery/thriller that had me totally absorbed in this emotionally complex storyline. I was fully immersed and totally interested in the mystery and the interaction between these two sisters, Chloe and Nicky as it was quite dynamic.

    ALAFAIR BURKE is such a fabulous storyteller and has this way of hooking you in right away with her extremely fast-paced narrative and her subtly sneaky delivery. Which immediately had me questioning and wanting answers, even re-reading certain parts because I was certain I had to have missed something and dang if I did. She’s sneaky! lol

    ALAFAIR BURKE delivers a compelling and well-written story here that is full of intrigue, suspense, courtroom drama, and familial dynamics. The topical storyline is timely and well-plotted, flowed seamlessly and had interesting and great characters.

    This was another one of those books for me where the fantastic storytelling guided and entertained me right to the very end. The courtroom drama was extremely interesting and smartly written without overwhelming you with complicated details. I could definitely tell that ALAFAIR BURKE knows her stuff.

    Norma’s Stats:

    Cover: Absolutely love that dramatic, striking, breathtaking and extremely fitting cover.

    Title: Simple, impactful and a fabulous representation to storyline.

    Writing/Prose: Well-written, skilled, elaborate, suspenseful and engaging.

    Plot: Engrossing, suspenseful, dramatic, realistic, interesting, fast-paced, and entertaining.

    Ending: The ending made me pause and reflect but in the end I was completely satisfied with the outcome.

    Overall: The storyline is full of twists and turns and so subtly interspersed that I didn’t think this was predictable at all. I wouldn’t necessarily say it was all that surprising though when everything all played out but it was completely satisfying to me. ALAFAIR BURKE does it again and has another winner here with THE BETTER SISTER!! Would highly recommend!

    Thank you so much to Ashley at HarperCollins Canada for the complimentary copy. It was an absolute pleasure reading this fabulous book!

    Review can also be found on our book blog:

  • Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at:

    As my youngest would say . . . . .

    That’s soooooooo applicable here because

    was a damn good domestic thriller (as can be seen by my rating). Not only did it hold my interest throughout, but it did so without me even realizing how much progress I was making until I sat down to finish it last night and only had about 20% remaining. Burke also proved she knows which lane to stay in. This was a

    - NOT a police pro

    Find all of my reviews at:

    As my youngest would say . . . . .

    That’s soooooooo applicable here because

    was a damn good domestic thriller (as can be seen by my rating). Not only did it hold my interest throughout, but it did so without me even realizing how much progress I was making until I sat down to finish it last night and only had about 20% remaining. Burke also proved she knows which lane to stay in. This was a

    - NOT a police procedural or a courtroom drama or a wife sticking her nose where it didn’t belong and doing what the pros couldn’t do – and it remained focused on the family throughout. Not to mention it didn’t attempt to throw everything at the wall to see what would stick or bounce around in different timelines or via different narrators. So why does it suck to suck???? Well, because the focus on the kid maybe being the answer behind the whodunit reminded me of

    , and nothing can compete with that. Thus the 4 Stars, but hey 4 Stars ain’t nuttin’ to cry about.

    Really, aside from the focus being on the son as the suspect in the father’s murder there were a lot of differences. Mainly in the form of our solo narrator Chloe who had worked her way up the magazine publishing world and instantly brought visions of a certain someone to my head . . . .

    (Even though she wasn’t presented as such a ballbuster.) She obviously did have ambitions and a willingness to do whatever was necessary in order to get what she wanted, however, since she not only ended up at the top of the heap of the magazine industry but also ended up marrying her sister’s husband!

    And what about that husband? Well, he’s dead so he doesn’t really have much to say about things. You just have to figure out whodunit and why. Just watch out so you don’t get knocked out by all the skeletons that start falling out of the closets.

    If you like your beachy reads on the stabby side, this might be a winner because homeboy gets stabbed FIVE TIMES : )

    If you want to know you live with a bunch of potential serial killers ask the question “what’s a buck knife?” while you’re reading and have multiple examples be brought to you . . . . .

  • Brenda - Traveling Sister

    3.5 Stars

    Two estranged sisters, a murdered husband and father, some courtroom drama and a whole lot of messy family drama.

    The Better Sister is a simple yet intriguing whodunit domestic thriller with some interesting simple courtroom drama and a lot of family drama that didn’t feel too overly complicated to me.

    Now I am not sure I would describe this one as fast-paced or really entertaining. I felt the strength in this one was in the drama. Now that is something I never thought I would say, not

    3.5 Stars

    Two estranged sisters, a murdered husband and father, some courtroom drama and a whole lot of messy family drama.

    The Better Sister is a simple yet intriguing whodunit domestic thriller with some interesting simple courtroom drama and a lot of family drama that didn’t feel too overly complicated to me.

    Now I am not sure I would describe this one as fast-paced or really entertaining. I felt the strength in this one was in the drama. Now that is something I never thought I would say, not being much of a fan of drama. There is a lot of messy family drama going on here with these very different sisters that unfolded slowly throughout the story instead of coming at you all at once. One sister who craves and needs routine and the other who lives in constant drama. I was hooked right from the start and I was turning the pages as fast as I could as the twists and turns came. I started to question who was the better sister as we learn more about some of their family secrets.

    The ending came as a surprise and I didn’t see it coming. Maybe a bit weak with the big reveal and one you might find unsatisfying with a few holes. For me, it all came together well and I thought the pacing was well done as the drama slowly unfolded

    Thank you to EW and Harper Collins Canada for my copy to read and review.

  • marilyn

    Chloe and her husband Adam seem to have a happy marriage. Chloe is a famous and successful journalist and Adam is a successful lawyer. Ethan is Adam's sixteen year old son by Nicky, and Ethan considers Chloe "Mom" and Chloe loves Ethan as if he were her own. Chloe created the "Them, too" movement and is lauded for promoting women's rights and strengths to stand up for themselves.

    Behind the scenes, we find that Ethan's mom, Nicky, is Adam's ex-wife and their marriage ended very badly with Chloe

    Chloe and her husband Adam seem to have a happy marriage. Chloe is a famous and successful journalist and Adam is a successful lawyer. Ethan is Adam's sixteen year old son by Nicky, and Ethan considers Chloe "Mom" and Chloe loves Ethan as if he were her own. Chloe created the "Them, too" movement and is lauded for promoting women's rights and strengths to stand up for themselves.

    Behind the scenes, we find that Ethan's mom, Nicky, is Adam's ex-wife and their marriage ended very badly with Chloe siding with Adam and against Nicky, during the divorce proceedings. Chloe and Adam's marriage is not going well at all, with Adam resenting Chloe for pushing him into the private sector while he would have prefered remaining a prosecuting DA. Things really go bad for everyone when Adam is murdered and Ethan is charged with murdering his father. Chloe and Nicky, who've had nothing to do with each other for the last fourteen years, team up with each other to support Ethan and attempt to find out what really happened the night Adam was killed and what was going on in Adam's life, leading up to his murder.

    This book has a lot of things I enjoy, a murder mystery, police investigations, and courtroom drama. It's a slow moving story, so patience is needed to get to the bottom of the mystery. Based on this story, I plan to read Alafair's other two books in what she considers a thematic trilogy, The Ex and The Wife.

  • Melissa

    I'm sure there are inquiring minds—other than my own—who would like to know, is that even possible? Well, don't you worry.

    tests the theory here with sisters, Chloe and Nicky. While the women don't overtly vie for the title of

    , it's a given they'll have readers second-guessing which of the two deserves the label.

    Considering this was my first exposure to Burke's work, I had no c

    I'm sure there are inquiring minds—other than my own—who would like to know, is that even possible? Well, don't you worry.

    tests the theory here with sisters, Chloe and Nicky. While the women don't overtly vie for the title of

    , it's a given they'll have readers second-guessing which of the two deserves the label.

    Considering this was my first exposure to Burke's work, I had no clue what her storytelling could offer. That little unknown, coupled with the number of unfavorable reviews that accumulated in the time it took for my name to reach the top of the library reserve list, found me less than enthusiastic. I might have even toted the book home out of some twisted sense of obligation. Waiting weeks for my turn meant it was only fair to try out a chapter or two. And good thing I did; turns out, this book was a fit for

    . The engaging quality of Burke's words and the sordid situation splayed across the pages made for a wholly immersive read. Indulging in this fashion—plowing through an entire book in a single day—hasn't happened for me much as of late.

    I'll admit,

    might seem

    in comparison to some of the other wildcards floating around in the domestic noir space, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Bigger doesn’t always correlate to better. Seems fitting to put a

    quote to good use here,

    . I’m over storylines that offer little more than the gasp-inducing antics of an unreliable narrator or a disruptive plot twist. I think it's time for a fresh approach in the genre.

    Burke brings readers into the lives of Chloe and Adam when they’re riding a high. Both prominent in their respective fields, they’re raising their teenage son and living an idealistic life in the heart of Manhattan. Or so it seems.

    In actuality, truth is often far less polished than appearances would have us believe. Chloe and Adam are mum about the fact that he was once married to Chloe’s older sister Nicky. Or that Chloe—regardless of the fact that Ethan calls her

    —is

    the

    stepmother.

    Their complicated pasts come barreling back in the wake of Adam’s murder. It's a short list of suspects—current wife, ex-wife, and teenage son—to contend with, but Burke still manages to keep the details under wraps until the very end.

    Amidst the investigation and the sibling strife, Burke explores how a curated persona can vary vastly from actuality. While we think we know someone based on the causes they support, the movements they inspire, or the snippets of themselves they choose to share with the world, the reality is, we often don’t.

  • j e w e l s

    is, indeed, a relative to Burke’s fabulous domestic thriller

    . Unfortunately, she is not the better sister. This very similar novel has almost all the same elements as THE WIFE, but is missing the twisted magic that made that story so much more exciting.

    I love Alafair Burke’s easy style of writing. She effortlessly incorporates the pulse of our times so accurately, it is easy to get swept up in her contemporary mysteries and courtroom dramas.

    I would call th

    is, indeed, a relative to Burke’s fabulous domestic thriller

    . Unfortunately, she is not the better sister. This very similar novel has almost all the same elements as THE WIFE, but is missing the twisted magic that made that story so much more exciting.

    I love Alafair Burke’s easy style of writing. She effortlessly incorporates the pulse of our times so accurately, it is easy to get swept up in her contemporary mysteries and courtroom dramas.

    I would call this a “mild” domestic drama with a murder mystery to solve. It is fairly addictive (due to Burke’s talented writing skills) but the story seems to stall out and not go anywhere. You won’t regret reading The Better Sister, but you probably won’t remember much about it afterwards.

  • Chelsea Humphrey

    A solid, entertaining read, but I think I'm growing weary of the domestic thriller, as they are all seeming to read about the same way. Full review to come!

  • Meredith

    is a domestic thriller about a woman (good sister) who marries her bad seed sister’s former husband and raises her sister’s son as her own. Sounds juicy, right? It gets even better because 10 years later, good sister’s husband is murdered and her (step)son is a prime suspect. Now, she must do whatever it takes to prove her son’s innocence, even if it means reuniting with her crazy sister.

    has so much potential

    is a domestic thriller about a woman (good sister) who marries her bad seed sister’s former husband and raises her sister’s son as her own. Sounds juicy, right? It gets even better because 10 years later, good sister’s husband is murdered and her (step)son is a prime suspect. Now, she must do whatever it takes to prove her son’s innocence, even if it means reuniting with her crazy sister.

    has so much potential. I got sucked in immediately and couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. But at a certain point, it just got boring. Then I began to notice weird gaps in time and some plot holes. I pushed these issues to the side with the hope that they would be ironed out. But unfortunately, they were not. As I read further, the plot began to spiral. I felt like Burke was just trying to do too much and it became a rather messy and chaotic read.

    I thought that the ending was going to save it, but there was one final twist that just irked me to no end. I also wanted to know more about the two sisters’ relationship.

    I loved

    but perhaps it set me up to have too high of expectations for

    I received an ARC of this book from Edelweiss and Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review.

  • Sarah Joint

    Very intriguing beginning, but it somehow lost me a bit along the way.

    Chloe and Nicky are not what you could call close sisters, but it'd be pretty amazing if they'd managed. Not only did Chloe end up marrying Nicky's ex-husband Adam, but she takes care of her son... who calls her mom. She'd always been the more responsible sister, always had her life more together. Nicky only managed a short time when her child was very young before she went back to being reckless, and lost him in the process.

    Very intriguing beginning, but it somehow lost me a bit along the way.

    Chloe and Nicky are not what you could call close sisters, but it'd be pretty amazing if they'd managed. Not only did Chloe end up marrying Nicky's ex-husband Adam, but she takes care of her son... who calls her mom. She'd always been the more responsible sister, always had her life more together. Nicky only managed a short time when her child was very young before she went back to being reckless, and lost him in the process. Years later, the child is now getting closer to a grown man and Adam is dead, murdered by an intruder. And they suspect his son.

    Ethan is your typical teenager, a bit rebellious and secretive. But would he kill his own father? Nicky rushes to be with her family, uniting with her estranged sister to support the child they've both had a hand in raising. Neither of them believe Ethan could possibly have hurt Adam, but things aren't looking good.

    This is a decent domestic thriller probably best suited for people who haven't read too many but have an interest. Having read them quite often, some parts were a bit too messy for me. It didn't quite lead up to the synopsis.

  • Susanne  Strong

    2 stars

    Chloe Taylor is now married to Adam, raising her sister Nicky’s son, Ethan. It’s a sordid little tale you see, as her sister Nicky was Adam’s first wife. Yeah, you heard that right. Adam got primary custody after Nicky was declared unfit. Ethan is now a teenager and has always called Chloe, mom. Chloe is editor of a woman’s magazine and is known for the “#Themtoo” Feminist Movement and is both loved and hated. Except for being trolled on the internet, her life is pretty perfect: her husba

    2 stars

    Chloe Taylor is now married to Adam, raising her sister Nicky’s son, Ethan. It’s a sordid little tale you see, as her sister Nicky was Adam’s first wife. Yeah, you heard that right. Adam got primary custody after Nicky was declared unfit. Ethan is now a teenager and has always called Chloe, mom. Chloe is editor of a woman’s magazine and is known for the “#Themtoo” Feminist Movement and is both loved and hated. Except for being trolled on the internet, her life is pretty perfect: her husband Adam is a successful lawyer, Ethan loves and adores her and she has the life she always wanted. Then her husband’s body is found brutally murdered and all bets are off. The police have a primary suspect of course and it’s none other than Ethan. Could he possibly be guilty? Are there other factors at play? Could Chloe’s success or her and Nicky’s childhood have anything to do with Adam’s murder?

    Do you have the patience to find out? You’re going to need it if “The Better Sister” is on your tbr! “The Better Sister” is a very slow moving mystery in comparison to Alafair Burke’s “The Wife and “The Ex,” both of which I really liked. In addition, I found it to be very confusing, especially compared to the synopsis of this novel which doesn’t quite match up to the plot (I waited a good 35% for the characters of Hannah and Graham to show up before realizing the synopsis was just plain wrong - I hate when that happens!). If you don’t mind slow moving, predictable suspense novels, you might enjoy this slow burn of a novel, unfortunately, it just wasn’t for me.

    This was a buddy read with Kaceey. Thanks for keeping me company!

    Thank you to Edelweiss, Harper Collins and Alafair Burke for an arc of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

    Published on Edelweiss and Goodreads on 1.26.19.

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