Category Archives: Gillian McAllister

Review: The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister

Title: The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 400 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


An electrifying novel about the unyielding bond between two sisters, which is severely tested when one of them is accused of the worst imaginable crime.

Martha and Becky Blackwater are more than sisters–they’re each other’s lifelines. When Martha finds herself struggling to balance early motherhood and her growing business, Becky steps in to babysit her niece, Layla, without a second thought, bringing the two women closer than ever. But then the unthinkable happens, and Becky is charged with murder.

Nine months later, Becky is on trial and maintains her innocence–and so does Martha. Unable to shake the feeling that her sister couldn’t possibly be guilty, Martha sets out to uncover exactly what happened that night, and how things could have gone so wrong. As the trial progresses, fault lines between the sisters begin to show–revealing cracks deep in their relationship and threatening the family each has worked so hard to build. With incredible empathy and resounding emotional heft, The Good Sister is a powerhouse of a novel that will lead readers to question everything they know about motherhood, family, and the price of forgiveness.


The Good Sister by Gillian McAllister is a poignant yet suspense-laden courtroom mystery.

Sisters Becky and Martha Blackwater are exceptionally close despite their different personalities and lives. Becky is separated from her husband Marc which leaves her a single mum to their nine year old son Xander.  She also hates her job which is why she is receptive to Martha’s suggestion to become a nanny for her newborn daughter, Layla. What seems like a good idea in theory quickly turns to misery for Becky since Layla cries virtually non-stop day in and day out.  When both Martha and her husband Scott are out of town on business, Layla dies whilst in Becky’s care.  Everyone initially believes the cause of death is sudden infant death syndrome, but the autopsy reveals the truth-Layla died of asphyxiation. Becky is arrested for murder and with the court case now underway, Martha still finds herself unable to believe her sister murdered her daughter. But if Becky did not kill Layla, who did?

Becky’s experience with motherhood is quite different than being nanny to her niece. Xander was a calm baby who slept for long stretches of time so she is ill-prepared for Layla’s non-stop crying.  Barely able to handle the stress of caring for her niece while Martha is in town, she is pushed to the breaking point when Scott extends his business trip by another day. Becky has always maintained her innocence but the courtroom testimony from friends, neighbors and the medical community is damning.

Martha vacillates back and forth between believing her sister is guilty of killing Layla.  She is hard-pressed to fully accept Becky murdered her daughter but some of the witness testimony leaves her second-guessing her sister. Throughout the weeklong court case, Martha attempts to figure out an alternate suspect for her daughter’s death. But by Becky’s own admission, she is the only person who was at home when Layla died. Is it possible her sister is lying to protect someone else?

With chapters alternating between various points of view, The Good Sister is an absolutely enthralling mystery. The family dynamic is fascinating to watch as the sisters’ parents and brother deftly balance their support for both women. Becky’s and Martha’s lives are tightly intertwined which makes Martha’s struggle to believe in her sister’s guilt believable. Gillian McAllister brilliantly leaves Becky’s fate hanging in the balance until a very shocking courtroom scene. An outstanding mystery that fans of the genre are going to positively love.

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Filed under Contemporary, Gillian McAllister, GP Putnams Sons, Mystery, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Good Sister