2019 Book 122: THE BETTER SISTER by Alafair Burke

The Better Sister by Alafair Burke
ISBN: 9780062853370 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062853356 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062895264 (audiobook)
ASIN: B078R4J4SY (Kindle edition)
Publication date: April 16, 2019 
Publisher: Harper Books


From Alafair Burke—New York Times bestselling author of the runaway hit, The Wife—comes another twisty tale of domestic noir. 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.



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Chloe Taylor might have been the younger Taylor sister, but she’s also the one that seemed to have more drive and ambition. She’s also the sister that went to college, moved away from home, and became a successful journalist. Her older sister, Nicky, always seemed to struggle with relationships and following through with pretty much everything including jobs. It wasn’t until Nicky began her relationship with Adam Macintosh that she began to settle down. She married and quickly had a child. Then her life began to unravel and Adam turned to Chloe for assistance. Although Chloe lived several hundred miles away, she wanted to be there for her sister and her brother-in-law, but when tragedy struck everyone felt that Ethan’s best interest had to come first. Adam wound up divorcing Nicky, obtaining sole custody, and staying in Ohio for several years afterward before relocating to New York. It wasn’t until Adam and Ethan moved to New York that Chloe became a central part of their lives and before you knew it, Chloe was married to her ex-brother-in-law and stepmother to her biological nephew. 

Fast forward a dozen years and Chloe is now a successful journalist and publisher with a book deal. She is well-respected in her industry and is considered to be an integral media spokesperson for the #MeToo and #ThemToo movements. Her marriage to Adam seems idyllic. She has a husband she loves, a child she adores, and a job that is incredibly rewarding. Shortly after receiving an industry award, Chloe, Adam, and Ethan plan to spend a weekend away from New York City and go to their second home in East Hampton. Ethan spends the night with a friend. Chloe spends the evening at a party to celebrate her award and Adam opts to spend a quiet night at home. Sadly, that quiet night at home ends with Chloe finding Adam’s murdered body. The police investigate and quickly turn their sights to Chloe and then to Ethan. It seems the idyllic family that Chloe liked to portray in public wasn’t so idyllic. Chloe may not know much, but she knows she didn’t kill her husband and she also knows that Ethan didn’t murder his father, but who did? Since Chloe is only Ethan’s stepmother and aunt, she has no legal rights and Nicky returns to the picture. Amazingly, she provides support to both Ethan and Chloe while they wait for the trial to begin and during the trial. Can these two sisters repair their relationship while fighting for the life and freedom of their shared son? Will they ever uncover the real identity of Adam’s murderer?

I found The Better Sister to be a riveting psychological suspense thriller. In addition to the murder, there is adultery, emotional and physical abuse, gaslighting, illegal corporate shenanigans, and tons of family angst and drama. Yes, there are several twists and turns in the story and the author keeps you guessing as to whodunit until the final reveal. Are there bad guys? Yes and no. (Trust me, that answer makes a lot of sense once you read the book.) None of the primary characters are what they appear to be initially. Chloe is not as laid back and easy going as she would have everyone believe. Her marriage to Adam is nowhere near perfect. Adam wasn’t happy in his job and had severe anger and control issues (still not an excuse to be murdered). Ethan is caught not just between two parents, but between three and is struggling to hang tough and please them all as best he can and ends up arrested and on trial accused of murdering his own father because of his desire to please everyone. Nicky isn’t quite the trainwreck she was thought to be. The Better Sister seems to go out of its way in letting the reader know there are often more than two sides to a story and just because one side seems more plausible than another doesn’t make it the right side. Truth is often stranger than fiction and Chloe, Nicky, and Ethan seem to have a lot of difficulty in dealing with the truth until their backs are pushed against the proverbial wall. Although there is a lot going on in this story, the three main characters are inextricably linked together and it’s only when they realize that together they are stronger that they rise above their problems and begin to survive. Does Ethan get out of jail? Do they ever find the real murderer? What exactly are the corporate shenanigans? Who was committing adultery? Who was the abuser and who was getting abused? Who was gaslighting whom? Which sister is The Better Sister? Read the book to find out for yourself!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




Read an excerpt from The Better Sister here. 




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2015 Book 26: THE EX by Alafair Burke

The Ex by Alafair Burke 
ISBN: 9780062390486 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062390509 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062444882 (audio)
ASIN: B00X3N8S96 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: January 26, 2016 
Publisher: Harper


Twenty years ago she ruined his life.

Now she has the chance to save it.

Olivia Randall is one of New York City’s best criminal defense lawyers. When she hears that her former fiancé, Jack Harris, has been arrested for a triple homicide—and that one of the victims was connected to his wife’s murder three years earlier—there is no doubt in her mind as to his innocence. The only question is, who would go to such great lengths to frame him—and why?

For Olivia, representing Jack is a way to make up for past regrets and absolve herself of guilt from a tragic decision, a secret she has held for twenty years. But as the evidence against him mounts, she is forced to confront her doubts. The man she knew could not have done this. But what if she never really knew him? 


Olivia Randall has few regrets in life, but she does regret the way her relationship with Jack Harris ended twenty years ago. When she receives a frantic phone call from Jack’s daughter, Olivia does what she thinks is right and heads to the police department to help out her former fiancé in Alafair Burke’s latest thriller, The Ex.

Olivia Randall met Jack Harris in college. Their relationship went from being friends to lovers and eventually they became engaged. Unfortunately, Olivia wasn’t quite ready to settle down and took advantage of Jack’s kindness during the last year of their engagement. The end came after Jack discovered proof of one of Olivia’s liaisons in their apartment. The engagement was over and Jack moved on. Then Jack’s wife was murdered in a mass shooting at Penn Station. The general opinion was the father of the shooter should have been responsible for his son’s actions since it was known the teenage boy had mental health issues and the father supported the boy’s access to guns. Now that father has been found shot to death in a spot where Jack had been waiting for a date. The police feel they have the right man, but Olivia feels differently. Over the course of her investigation into Jack, his marriage, his wife’s murder, and his life after, she uncovers one too many secrets that lead her to change her belief in Jack’s innocence. Olivia begins to feel as if she never really knew Jack and fears she’s being manipulated. Can she find answers to her burning questions about Jack and his past? 

I found The Ex to be an intriguing and engrossing fast-paced read. Ms. Burke has crafted a scenario that is not only wholly believable but tragically realistic. Olivia is a forty-something lawyer struggling with her guilt over past behavior. Jack is a forty-something author struggling to forgive Olivia and keep secrets. Buckley, Jack’s teenage daughter, is overwhelmed with guilt over her mother’s death (read the book to find out why) and wants to keep her father out of prison. The Ex is part legal thriller, part psychological thriller, part suspense thriller, and one darn good read. I enjoyed all of the characters and found most of them to be deeply flawed but likable. Just when you think you might have things figured out, Ms. Burke throws in a nice twist (or two) to keep you guessing. I can always count on Ms. Burke for a well-crafted and well-written story. If you enjoy suspense thrillers, legal thrillers, psychological thrillers, or are just looking for something a little different to read, then I strongly urge you to grab a copy of The Ex.


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Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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2015 Book 349: ALL DRESSED IN WHITE by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke

All Dressed in White (Under Suspicion #2) by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke 
ISBN: 9781501108556 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781501108570 (ebook)
ASIN: B00UDCI30E (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 17, 2015 
Publisher: Simon & Schuster


The second thrilling novel in the New York Times bestselling Under Suspicion series following The Cinderella Murder, featuring intrepid television producer Laurie Moran as she investigates the case of a missing bride.

Five years ago Amanda Pierce was excitedly preparing to marry her college sweetheart in a lavish ceremony at The Grand Victoria Hotel in Palm Beach. Then, with their guests and families on site, Amanda disappeared.

In present-day New York City, Laurie Moran realizes a missing bride is the perfect cold case for her investigative television series, Under Suspicion. She and her team set out to recreate the night of the disappearance at the Florida resort with Amanda’s friends and family in attendance, hoping to shed new light on the mystery as the series has done in past episodes. With a jealous sister, playboy groomsmen, Amanda’s former fiancé now married to a bridesmaid, and rumors about the “beloved” bride herself, Laurie and Under Suspicion host Alex Buckley quickly realize everyone has a theory about why Amanda vanished into thin air.

One thing is certain: whoever was behind Amanda’s disappearance plans to keep the truth hidden “until death do they part…” 


Laurie Moran and her team have been researching and preparing pitch ideas for the next Under Suspicion television show. They’ve narrowed their choices down to three unsolved cases when the mother of the so-called “runaway bride” comes in and asks that they find out the truth about her daughter’s disappearance. Laurie is sure that this case is the case for Under Suspicion to investigate in All Dressed In White by Mary Higgins Clark and Alafair Burke.

Normally Laurie and her team has weeks, if not months, to prepare and investigate a case for their television show. All that changes with the impromptu visit of Sandra Pierce, on behalf of her missing daughter and bride-to-be Amanda Pierce. Now the team has less than a week to do the background on each member of the wedding party, obtain everyone’s permission to appear on the show, and book the Florida resort the wedding would have taken place at five years earlier. It doesn’t take long before Laurie realizes that not everyone saw Amanda in the same loving light as her mother. Amanda’s sister had and continues to have jealousy issues? Amanda’s best friend and maid of honor is now married to Amanda’s fiancé. And Amanda’s fiancé stands to gain a couple of million dollars in her will despite an ironclad prenuptial agreement. Did Amanda get cold feet and simply walk away from her fiance, job, and family or was her disappearance due to more deadly motives?

I found All Dressed in White to be a fast-paced and enjoyable read, as well as a great addition to the Under Suspicion series. This story provides just a little more background and insight into Laurie and Alex’s growing relationship, adding a little bit of a romance element to this mystery. I found the characters to be well-developed, realistic, and likable. The authors provide just enough information to the reader that almost every member of the bridal party becomes suspicious until the bitter end (no, I won’t reveal whodunnit…read the book!). The story takes a few twists and turns along the way, but that only added to my overall enjoyment. If you enjoy reading mysteries or simply are looking for something a little different to read this fall, then I suggest you grab a copy of All Dressed in White.

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via Edelweiss. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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