The Better Sister by Alafair Burke #stephlvsbooks #bookreview


Book Title and Author: The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
Publication Date and Publisher: April 16, 2019 by Harper Collins
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Fiction
Pages: 336 pages
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Date Read: March 29, 2019 (e-arc)

3.5 Stars

Goodreads Synopsis:

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, she always seemed to be in charge. She was the honor roll student with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky was always restless . . . and more than a little reckless—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 like 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 teenaged 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.

My Thoughts:

I’ve read several of Alafair Burke’s booksall of her books with Mary Higgins Clark, which is how I was introduced to her as an author, a few books in her Ellie Hatcher series, and a couple of her standalone novels including, of course, The Ex and The Wife. I was thrilled to read The Better Sister but unfortunately, I felt it was missing all the ingredients that made The Wife and The Ex both 5 star reads.

In this domestic thriller, albeit a very light domestic thriller, Chloe Taylor is the narrator and the supposedly better sister in comparison to her unreliable older sister Nicky. Chloe’s ultra-successful, wealthy, a feminist starter of the #MeToo movementoh, did I mention she’s married to her sister’s ex-husband Adam and has raised her nephew, Ethan as her own? As you can imagine, the Taylor sisters are far from close. Yet, suddenly, these two sisters have no choice but join together in an uneasy partnership when Adam is murdered and Ethan becomes the only suspect.

Unfortunately, while this has an outstanding plot and the makings of being an excellent book, it fell short as I said. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an addictive, page-turning read that I binged in two sittings and still enjoyed thoroughly even if I didn’t love it! I thought from the beginning to the middle of the book that it was going to be on par with The Wife and then it began to be predictable and fell flat.

I read a LOT of thrillers and domestic dramas so it could be me since I am able to predict who committed the crimes in these genres of books 98% of the time. So, the reveal was not at all revealing (it was believable though) since it was literally given away early on, and that could be why the book fell flat.

One reason I’m glad I read this is that I love Burke’s writing style; she writes flawlessly and she really excels at brilliantly incorporating her legal expertize into the police investigations and courtroom setting. Another great thing about the book is that it wasn’t gimmicky at all: nothing was thrown in to test the reader’s patience such as crazy twists that just could never have happened, impossible to believe characters, etcyou know what I mean! It was just an honest, well-written, conceivable murder mystery in a world of the same old, same old genre of domestic thrillers.

While I didn’t love The Better Sister, I did enjoy it, and I do recommend picking it up to see what you think! It’s definitely a quick read that’s great for spring/summer reading!

**Thank you Edelweiss and Harper Collins for the ARC to read in exchange for my fair and honest review.**

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17 thoughts on “The Better Sister by Alafair Burke #stephlvsbooks #bookreview

    1. Thanks Laurel! She’s really a great author. Some of her other standalones have been hit or miss, but I think after The Wife my expectations were too high. I think after an author has written a 5 star book, it’s hard when the next one isn’t up to that level. I think you’ll still enjoy this one and might enjoy it more than I did.

      I love her books with Mary Higgins Clark.


  1. Great review, Steph. I have a copy of The Wife though yet to read it. Glad you liked this one even though it didn’t meet your expectations. I hope your next book by the author will be as good as the previous ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If you’ve loved her earlier books, it might be a little disappointing. Thanks, it was still entertaining read, but it’s really sad that so many thrillers have had that issue lately. Thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s okay! Thank you! I think loving The Wife so much set the bar and my expectations too high since it started off like The Wife and then just flopped at the end. I look forward to hearing what you think. All in all, it’s definitely a good book and as always well-written, so I enjoyed it. I just wish it had that “wow factor”. xoxo ♥

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I had to stop reading her books. 😦 I really enjoyed The Wife and The Ex but everything after those two seemed far too predictable. There were two that I started and didn’t finish them so I just stopped even trying after that. I feel like a loser who is left out every time she comes out with a new book and people are so excited, but I’ve learned my lesson. I LOVE your review your, though, and you put my thoughts into words very well. Thank you.


    1. I think those two were somehow anomalies! The ones with Mary Higgins Clark were really good, but you could tell MHC had most of the input into them or so I thought. I think she can write, but she has a formulaic pattern and once she gets into it, she can’t get out. I was hoping after The Ex and The Wife, all her writing would be that strong. I’ll probably read her next one but if it’s not a standout, then I’ll probably pass. Thank you! Glad I got my meaning…and yours…across!


    1. I enjoyed it, but I did have higher expectations since I had loved her other books. I think because I teach gothic lit, horror, and suspense literature at the university level that it makes it easier for me to analyze this genre and I have a tendency to pick the details a part. I read about 300 books a year, a mix of genres, mostly this and historical fiction which is my other favorite genre, but it does make it hard for books not to become predictable as you said although there are those rare ones that surprise me, thankfully.


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