Cover Image: The Better Sister

The Better Sister

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Member Reviews

I really enjoy this authors writing style. The Better Sister is definitely an engrossing yet disturbing domestic thriller. I look forward to reading more by this author, never disappointed.
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Very intriguing beginning, but it somehow lost me a bit along the way. 

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.
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The beginning of this book I was disappointed because it was resembling a book that I had recently dnf'd but thankfully it made a sharp right turn and got a lot better. The reason I didn't like the beginning is because the author, Burke, heavily took from current events, which is fine by itself, but when page after page is the the main character, Claire,  thinking all these thoughts about current events and no actual story building is being done it got to be annoying. What Claire does is an important part of the story but it is not necessary to spend so much time on just building up her character when the author would have been better off building up the relationships that she has with the people around her. We know from the synopsis that Claire's husband, Adam, is murdered but we don't get to see much of their relationship before that happens. Which, if I had a choice in how the author started this book I would much rather they spent their time on Claire and Adam and not Claire and all the amazingness that she has done with her magazine.

Once the story really got going though it was a fantastic thriller. There were a lot of twists and turns and I loved watching the story unfold. If thrillers aren't a favorite genre of yours then you might find some of the plot overdone with all the different reveals. For someone like me, who loves mysteries and thrillers, than this will be a fun adventure for you. 

I also really enjoyed the pacing of this book. This book would jump forward in time at different plot points and I really felt like it kept the book from getting too stale. It also helped it to feel more realistic since everything wasn't happening in the span of a few days. Burke also did a great job of balancing all the drama and different storylines that were happening. We know going into it that their is obviously some drama with Claire and her sister and I liked how their relationship unfolded throughout the story. Going between the drama between them, the mystery of who killed Adam and Claire trying to deal with the police and social media kept me engaged in the story. 

Overall, this was a really well done thriller/mystery and I highly recommend that anyone who enjoys this genre check this book out. If you like Law & Order: SVU I also think that you would like this book. It follows the basic narrative of the episodes where there is a crime, the police investigate and then there is a court case. Also, I know I spent some time talking about how I didn't really like the beginning but the rest of the book more than made up for that.
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This book lured me in with an intriguing premise. When Chloe's finds her husband murdered, and her son is charged with the crime, she must come face to face with his first wife, her own sister, to solve the crime. I expected a page turning physiological thriller and ended up with a slow and steady court drama. It was interesting and well-plotted, but I felt it was missing character development and a mysterious edge. Fans of Mary Higgins Clark, Danielle Steele, and James Patterson may enjoy The Better Sister.
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I very much enjoyed this twisted domestic thriller that kept me wondering whodunit throughout the whole book. I really liked the pacing and the suspense and I look forward to reading the next book by this author.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Collins for an advance read of this novel.  I love Alafair Burke, and this was no exception.  This one was particularly sad, in a way, because it involved sisters, their bond, and how it can sometimes be broken.  When it comes down to life or death, they reunite to save "their" son, accused of the murder of his father.  Chloe has been writing about the #metoo movement, but she hides a secret that could change everything.
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I remember reading The Ex and felt mentally drained from the twists and turns. It was quite a ride and after that, I became a fan of this authors. The summary draws you in and you feel ready to dive in, however, this story took awhile to "get there". While I appreciated the topics when you finally did "get there", I'm not sure I was vested with the protagonist of the story. The upside was that if you are a fan of this authors, the twists and turns did not disappoint.

Chloe lives an ideal, picture perfect life. She has a beautiful family and a successful career. Her career as an Editor propels her to a celebrity status as she is an advocate for women's voices who have been abused. Chloe loves her stepson whose mom is her sister that she has been estranged from since he was a baby. The three are reunited when they learn Chloe's husband, Adam, has been killed in their home. Chloe has an airtight alibi, but her son, Ethan, does not. Chloe's sister, Nicky, is staying with her to protect her son and try to strengthen the bond they used to have. Chloe does not want her there, but she knows the attention on her son is serious and she needs all the reinforcements she can get to get through an event that will change all of them.

The three are put to the test as their secrets are exposed and Chloe's perfect life is crumbling. Time is running out and the two sisters must find a way to save Ethan and their strategy to find another suspect is a hunch that leads to a big reveal. 

I liked the story because it had a similar intensity of her other books, but I did not feel connected with the main character and I should have given the storyline. The supporting characters add a strong layer that does keep you engaged, especially, Nicky. You're curious of her relationship with Adam and why it failed and why she struggled and why she was estranged from her own son. Was she the Better Sister?
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I was drawn right into this novel from the very beginning. It had that catch that just makes you go hmmmmm….. (I won’t spoil it)

Chloe Taylor is the editor of a women’s magazine that has added to the MeToo movement with ThemToo. She is bright, successful. She is married to Adam, a prominent Manhattan lawyer and they are raising Ethan. Like everything else in life, all is not what it seems. Adam was once married to Chloe’s older sister Nicky and Ethan  is her child with Adam. Chloe stepped in when Nicky seemed to be losing it and Adam begged for her help. All these years later, Ethan is Chloe’s son. Everything seems perfect in their world, if you don’t count the nastiest tweets and posts about Chloe online, and then, Adam is murdered. When Ethan is accused of the crime, the sisters will do everything and anything to clear him.

There was so much that I did not expect to be happening and was quite surprised. The story worked so well with the way of the world and social media. We do get so involved in what is being said about us and others. Chloe’s addiction to it was so understandable. The nastiness that was written, I have actually seen other’s write. It is heartbreaking, really. I loved how the relationship between the sisters evolved. There were some times that I felt it was taking a bit too long to to get to where it was going, but it got there and I was all in.

Alafair Burke is one of the best mystery/suspense/thriller writers writing today and I look forward to what comes next. You really cannot go wrong with one of her books.

Thanks to Netgalley and Harper Collins for a copy of this book.
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If you love a book with mystery, secrets, dysfunctional families, and drama, then this is the book for you. This was a twisty, enthralling, edge-of-the-cliff read.  
Chloe’s husband is murdered and her stepson is the prime suspect.  To help her stepson she needs to let his mother(who is her sister and husbands ex wife) back into her life. Mind blowing right?
Many thanks to Harper Collins Publishers and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.
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I’ll admit it took me some time to review this title as I struggled to get into this story whenever I picked up my physical copy. Upon release, I finally took the plunge with the audio. The first part of this novel failed heavily to grasp my full attention, but by Part II it really started picking up the pace and by the end of this book I fully understood and appreciated all the information that had been tossed in my direction at the start.

The latter half of this novel I enjoyed the most and came as quite the surprise. It wasn’t until the courtroom drama unfolded that I was engrossed in this story. I for one am a huge fan of police procedural/legal thrillers, so, couple that with a domestic drama and I am allllll in. I’ve said this in my past reviews, but Alafair’s legal inclusions always scores high for me. She yet again brings her extensive legal knowledge to the table delivering a descriptive court proceeding without offering an overload of details,. And, as always, Alafair walks her reader through this court procedure in layman’s terms holding true to her background as a law professor. The legal drama saved this read for me was I’d consider it to be the most thrilling and entertaining part of this story.

Many of the elements of this novel mirror that of Alafair’s last publication, THE WIFE, but what it lacked for me was the heart pounding suspense and twists that I loved in her other works. Not to say that the murder mystery contained here was anything short of unexpected, but it failed to provide that scratch your head, ‘whoa I totally didn’t see that coming’ conclusion that I’ve come to expect. I will say that I always admire Alafair’s delivery and her manipulation of a story makes these twists difficult to solve. Her writing style is one of the reasons I continue and will continue to pick up her novels because there is no denying her books are always smartly written and full of intrigue.

I would consider this to be a mild domestic thriller that burned slowly. This is a solid and well-written novel that I wouldn’t suggest anyone passes on, but it’s not one that sat with me long after I finished it.
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I really love this author's writing style and always look forward to her next book.  This one though was not my favorite of hers.  The story was slow and not very exciting and twisty.
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It is said that when there are two siblings in a family, they will be opposites. The Taylor family was no exception. Chloe, the younger sister, was the honor roll student with a strong work ethic, while Nicky was restless and reckless. Nicky changed jobs and men, and never left Cleveland, while Chloe graduated from an Ivy League college, moved to New York City, and made a name for herself in publishing, winning awards and achieving fame with her series focused on the aftermath of the #MeToo movement. 

Nicky seemed to settle down. She married Adam Macintosh, a prosecutor, and they had a beautiful little boy, Ethan. But happiness was short-lived.

Fifteen-plus years later, Chloe is married to Adam and the two of them are raising Ethan, with Nicky pretty much completely absent from their lives. 

But Adam is murdered at the couple’s swanky East Hampton beach house, and Chloe must reluctantly permit Nicky back into their lives. She comes to New York City to stay with Chloe and Ethan, and they achieve a tentative truce. But the police quickly deem Ethan a suspect, forcing the two sisters unite in order to save their son. In order to do so, they must confront and finally deal with their family history and long-buried secrets.

Alafair Burke has constructed a contemporary, timely story about a dysfunctional family with a complicated history. Nicky did not manage to remain settled for long after Ethan was born. She quickly reverted to her old patterns, and, according to Adam, that included irresponsible behavior that prompted him to seek full custody of Ethan. He went so far as move to New York City to keep Ethan away from Nicky, ostensibly to ensure Ethan's safety. And his proximity to Chloe resulted in the two of them falling in love & deciding to marry. Chloe was already devoted to her nephew, so it was a natural transition and Ethan began thinking of and referring to her as "Mom." 

But over the course of the past couple of years, Ethan's behavior has been troubling and his relationship with his father deteriorating. As Chloe's success and fame magnified, so did problems in her marriage to Adam. He left his job a a prosecutor and joined a large law firm, but was never happy there. 

When Adam is murdered, Chloe has no choice but to notify Nicky. After all, Chloe has no claim to Ethan -- while she may be his stepmother, she is petrified that, despite a clause in Adam's will asserting his desire that Chloe continue raising him, Nicky will regain custody. Thus, when Nicky arrives in New York, Chloe is motivated to at least develop an amiable relationship with him -- for Ethan's sake and to, hopefully, ensure that he is able to remain in her care. But when the police focus their investigative efforts on Ethan and, worse, he is charged with murdering Adam, the two women must band together in order to save the boy that both of them love.

Burke's characters are fully developed and empathetic. Nicky was always troubled and, in Chloe's estimation, blamed her problems on their parents. Their father was abusive, and their mother did not stand up for herself or her girls. But Chloe's judgmental attitude toward Nicky is not helpful when the two of them are trying to ensure that Ethan is not wrongly convicted of murder. Gradually, the sisters manage to believably forge a new relationship. This time it is founded upon a mutual goal. But in order for it to work, they will have to trust each other.

As Ethan spends long months awaiting and then standing trial, Burke deftly portrays Chloe's search for the truth about her husband's death, as well as the secrets she has been keeping about the true state of Ethan's relationship with Adam, and their marriage. Burke injects clues about the identity of Adam's killer and that individual's motivation, but also expertly keeps readers guessing until the very end of the story. In the process, readers learn exactly what happened between Nicky and Adam, and the myriad ways in which the realities of Chloe's life have been at odds with outward appearances. 

Burke is a master storyteller and The Better Sister is another example of her creativity and ability to translate modern themes into a compelling mystery. She employs Chloe's first-person narrative, along with a third-person account of the detectives' investigation, and the social media posts focused on Chloe, to full effect, unwinding a fourteen-year history through Chloe's recollection. Ultimately, The Better Sister is a sometimes blistering but always moving exploration of the unique relationship of sisters, as well as motherhood, and the lengths to which a mother will go to save her child.
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Many thanks to NetGalley, HarperCollins, and Alafair Burke for the opportunity to read and review her latest domestic thriller - I loved it!  

Chloe is a powerhouse, editor-in-chief at the last feminist newspaper, and author of the latest movement, #ThemToo taking over the country.  She is married to successful attorney, Adam, who just happens to be the ex-husband of her sister, Nicky.  They are raising Ethan, Nicky and Adam's child from their marriage, because Nicky was the wild sister, even though she was the oldest, and had issues caring for Ethan.  Then Adam is brutally murdered at their East Hampton summer home and suddenly everyone is a suspect, including Ethan.  Nicky leaves their childhood home in Cleveland to stay with Chloe, where the sisters must confront their estranged relationship for Ethan's sake.

This was a quick read and I was pretty much glued to the pages.  Can I say how much I enjoyed the Cleveland references, especially a Browns win mention?
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3.5 stars, rounded up

I’ve only read one other book by Alafair Burke, The Wife, which I thought was a  strong and interesting domestic thriller.  So, I was curious to see if I’d like her next book and was thrilled to get an ARC.

I liked the premise.  I can’t quite imagine marrying my ex-brother-in-law under any circumstances in which my sister was still alive. But Chloe did exactly that, marrying Nicky’s ex-husband. Nicky was the ne’er do well sister, more into drinking than raising her child.  Chloe, was the type A daughter, the editor in chief of one of the last few remaining feminist magazines and is wildly successful.  As you would expect with a domestic thriller, everyone has lots of secrets.  I can’t say Chloe was a sympathetic character in the beginning and it took me awhile to warm to her.  

When Chloe’s husband is brutally murdered, Nicky comes east to be with her son.  She’s cleaned up her act in the intervening years. The sisters proceed to try and repair their relationship.  

I did enjoy Detective Guidry, forced to deal with her idiot partner.  Unfortunately, she’s not a big part of the book.  

The book starts off strong but then the plot just seems to flounder.  It attempts to cover all the bases - family drama, murder mystery, courtroom drama.  But it falters and there were several gaping holes in the plot.  Chloe makes a very half hearted attempt to research what her husband was up to in the days before his death.  Ideas of other theories are raised and then forgotten.  And are never investigated by the defense lawyer.  Still, it’s got a strong ending that I didn’t see coming.  I enjoyed this one more for the characters than the plot.  

My thanks to netgalley and Harper Collins for an advance copy of this book.
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{My Thoughts}
What Worked For Me
Sisters Once Divided, Now United – Sisters Nicky and Chloe Taylor have a complicated history to say the least. Nicky, always a bit of a wreck, was once married to the now dead Adam, and she’s the mother of his son, Ethan. Through a chain of events, her marriage to Adam ended, and several years later he married Chloe, the stable sister, and the two raised Ethan as their son. For obvious reasons, the sisters spoke rarely and saw each other even less often. That all changed after Adam’s murder when Ethan became the prime suspect.

“As I walked Valerie to the door, I could feel Ethan’s eyes following her. It would be weeks before I asked myself whether that was yet another sign that something was deeply wrong with my son.”

Through the course of the story the two women must find a way to unite to save the son they both love. Theirs was a fun relationship to watch evolve.

Nicky – I especially liked the character of Nicky. She’d had a lot of problems in her past, but she’d also been treated harshly and had reasons for some of what she’d done. In the present Nicky was a fun, free-spirited woman who supported herself by making jewelry and selling it on Etsy. I found her the perfect foil to high-strung, socially conscious Chloe.

Light, Easy Domestic Thriller – This story of a murdered man and the tangled family he left behind was perfect reading while on vacation. It was easy to pick up and put down and get right back into the complex lives of the Taylor sisters.

Courtroom/Trial – The second half of The Better Sister focuses on a trial for Adam’s murder and this was where the story really took off for me. Burke’s background as a prosecutor came through in that part of this story and definitely felt the most authentic of all its elements.

What Didn’t
Chloe – I don’t want to give anything away, so I can’t say a lot, but much about Chloe just didn’t add up. She was a highly regarded journalist winning huge awards for her work in a “#MeToo” like movement, yet she feared any sort of revelations about her own life, constantly worrying about what others would think. Chloe seemed like too big of a hypocrite for my tastes.

Adam – The entire story of The Better Sister revolved around Adam and why someone might want to murder him, and yet as each piece of the puzzle was revealed the picture became messier. Nothing about Adam rang true. It was almost as if he had a split personality! Again, I can’t give much away, but the logic of some of the things Burke had Adam doing just didn’t fit with other parts of the character. People don’t just change and then change back on demand and yet that is what Burke required of Adam for her story to truly come together.

{The Final Assessment}
I like a good domestic thriller, and The Better Sister was fine in that regard. Just fine. Just. Too much of the story surrounding Adam and Chloe required the reader to simply buy into it, to suspend disbelief. I’m fine with a little of that, almost all thrillers need it, but in The Better Sister it was simply too much for me.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the Harper (via NetGalley) in exchange for my honest review. Many thanks!
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The BetterSister # NetGalley
Alafair Burke ⭐️⭐️⭐️

I enjoyed this book even though it started out a little slow for me. I have read other books by this author and they usually keep you engaged until the end. This book did pick up speed and I am glad I read it. The characters were a little stiff and not easy to get attached to. As the storyline moves on it was somewhat predictable except for the “who done it” at the end of the book. That was a little bit of a surprise. I feel the characters could have been fleshed out more than they were and it would have made it a better book. I will recommend this book to friends and family who enjoy a mystery, but I did not see much psychological thriller aspect about it.  ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advance copy read of this book for an honest review.

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In a time where every thriller seems to base itself around whatever "shocking twist!" it can find, The Better Sister is a breath of fresh air, chosing to focus on family dynamics in those we create and those we're born into.

The Better Sister is about Chloe, a successful magazine editor and advocate, who is awarded for her work right before her husband, Adam, is murdered. After his death, the police begin investigating, and their person of interest? Chloe's teenage stepson, Ethan, whose biological mother is Nicky, who is Adam's exwife-- and Chloe's sister.

The beauty of The Better Sister is that it takes its loaded gun of family turmoil and fires it for maximum impact. It's well written and tightly focused. and every character is flawed. The twists may be expected but they are all choreographed well, and I loved that Chloe. Nicky, and Ethan were capable of and prone to doing good and (very) bad things. It was just so refreshing to read a character'-driven thriller that actually delivered on the characters! Recommended.
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The Better Sister by Alafair Burke didn’t grab my attention as quickly as her other books have.  At first, the story of a successful woman, Chloe, married to a moderately successful lawyer, Adam, seemed fairly uninteresting.  Even the fact that Adam had once been married to Chloe’s sister didn’t add too much suspense or interest to the story. However, when Adam is found murdered, the story picks up the pace and becomes quite a bit more intriguing.  

The Better Sister is a well-told tale about siblings, families and secrets.  The courtroom scenes are well-written and add another dimension to the tale.  However, there were some aspects that perhaps should have had more closure and/or explanation, such as the situation with Jake and Adam’s activities prior to his death.  Ms Burke weaves a story that is unputdownable.  With an unexpected twist at the end, this book will satisfy most readers.  It deserves 3.5 stars.

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for providing a copy of this book for review.
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This was a very well-written thriller.  I read so many thrillers that they all tend to sound the same after a while, but this story line was just different enough to keep my interest peaked.  There are many questions that need to be answered in this book:  Who killed the husband?  What's going on with his son?  Which sister should be trusted or should they both be trusted?  I had a good idea of who the killer was, but I did enjoy the way the author got to the big reveal.  I also enjoyed the relationship between the son, his mother, and his aunt.  I highly recommend this book to mystery/thriller lovers.
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As my youngest would say . . . . . sucks to suck.

That’s soooooooo applicable here because The Better Sister 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 domestic - 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 Defending Jacob, 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 Miranda Priestley or Anna Wintour to mind (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 . . . . .

ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you, NetGalley!
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