Category Archives: The Better Sister

Review: The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

Title: The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
Publisher: Harper
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through Edelweiss


Keep your enemies close and your sister closer.

Though Chloe was the younger of the two Taylor sisters, she always seemed to be the one in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky—always restless and more than a little reckless—was the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

For a while, it seemed that both sisters had found happiness. Chloe earned a scholarship to an Ivy League school and moved to New York City, where she landed a coveted publishing job. Nicky married promising young attorney Adam Macintosh and gave birth to a baby boy they named Ethan. The Taylor sisters became virtual strangers.

Now, more than fifteen years later, their lives are drastically different—and Chloe is married to Adam. When he’s murdered by an intruder at the couple’s East Hampton beach house, Chloe reluctantly allows her teenage stepson’s biological mother—her estranged sister, Nicky—back into her life. But when the police begin to treat Ethan as a suspect in his father’s death, the two sisters are forced to unite . . . and to confront the truth behind family secrets they have tried to bury in the past.


The Better Sister by Alafair Burke is a riveting domestic mystery.

On the surface, forty-one year old Chloe Taylor appears to have it all.  A successful career in which she is a rising star.  A happy marriage to her loving husband. A well-adjusted stepson whom she dotes upon.  But after her husband lawyer Adam McIntosh is murdered at their East Hampton vacation home, her world unravels when her sixteen year stepson Ethan is arrested for killing his father.  

Further complicating her life is the sudden appearance of her estranged sister, Nicky, who just happens to be Adam’s ex-wife and Ethan’s biological mother.  Chloe is pleasantly surprised to discover Nicky is no longer an alcohol swilling, pill-popping unstable mess. Instead, Nicky is running a successful online business where she sells the jewelry she designs.  They have completely put their strained past behind them as they present a united front during Ethan’s incarceration and trial.

Despite this newfound closeness, neither Chloe nor Nicky discuss their respective marriages to Adam. But murder trials have a way of ferreting out the truth and Chloe learns stunning information about Ethan. While testifying in his own defense, Ethan reveals the truth about their life behind closed doors. Is Ethan guilty of murdering his father? If Ethan did not kill Adam, will Chloe uncover the killer’s identity?

Chloe’s success at a women’s magazine has exceeded her wildest dreams. She works long hours and although Adam is working at a prestigious law firm, there are cracks in their marriage. The past two years have difficult since Adam left his job as a prosecutor to work in a firm where he know defends white collar clients. The higher his wife’s star rises, the more Adam’s resentment grows due to his unhappiness in his career.

With the police focus on Ethan, Chloe learns some troubling information about Adam. She takes what she has learned to one of the detectives investigating his murder. However, after Ethan’s arrest, Chloe concentrates on his defense and these details fall by the wayside. Does the answer to who killed Adam lie somewhere within this forgotten and puzzling discovery? Or is Ethan responsible for his murdering his father?

The Better Sister is an engrossing mystery with a topical storyline. The characters are fully fleshed with relatable strengths and weaknesses.  The courtroom portion of the plot is interesting but is the right person on trial for murder? With shocking twists and unexpected turns, Alafair Burke provides a very shocking answer to this question. I absolutely loved and highly recommend this clever mystery.

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