Book Review: The Better Sister by Alafair Burke

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Publish Date: April 16, 2019

“How do you tell people that you married your sister’s husband without sounding horrible?” — The Better Sister

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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?

Chloe and Nicky Taylor are sisters. Chloe is the younger of the two, with big dreams and an even bigger work ethic. Nicky is the opposite of her ambitious little sister. She floated from job to job and man to man, and stayed close to home in Cleveland.

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 McIntosh, 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 a masked 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.

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There is a lot of buzz about Alafair Burke’s last books, The Wife and The Ex, so I was especially curious about this new book and excited to dive into my first read of this author. 

Chloe Taylor is an award-winning famous writer with a handsome attorney husband, a loving teenage son, a glam life in Manhattan and a luxe home in East Hampton. Her life seems perfect on the outside, but there is plenty of dirt on the inside. Dig a little deeper and you’ll discover that Chloe is her husband Adam’s second wife. Chloe’s older sister Nicky was Adam’s first wife, and their son Ethan is actually Nicky and Adam’s biological son. This means that Chloe is Ethan’s stepmom and aunt. How’s that for complicated?

Chloe finds Adam dead in the Hamptons home, their son Ethan is accused of murder, and their lives are blown apart. After being estranged for 15 years, Nicky re-enters their lives and then the reader is privy to the backstory that leads up to this very messed up situation.

Chloe primarily narrates the story, and it had many twists and turns. Remember when that beautiful American actress married a handsome prince, and the trashy side of her family sold stories and pictures to the tabloids? I had thought of Nicky.” I like Chloe because she is strong, smart, resourceful, and a reliable narrator. She is credible and (with the exception of stealing her sister’s husband and child) a moral character. There is a murder, a trial, many mysteries, with an underlying story of sisterhood, motherhood, and memories woven in between.

I loved this book. It has a fascinating plot and I was riveted. The book is fast paced and well written, funny at times, and kept me engaged throughout. It is a thriller with  complicated relationships and it has the makings of a really good movie.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars 5 Stars

Note: I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

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