Sibling Rivalry Is at the Center of Alafair Burke’s The Better Sister

Chloe Taylor and her older sister, Nicky, were best friends as young children. Different in temperament, talents, and experiences, they soon took different paths. Nicky became pregnant and married Adam, a successful lawyer. But after her substance abuse seemingly endangered the life of their child, Ethan, the marriage fell apart. 

Chloe was über successful, rising to the top of a magazine empire, founding a movement called #ThemToo. And, she also ended up marrying her sister’s ex-husband, Adam. Because she had married Adam when Ethan was very young, the young man considers Chloe his mother. That relationship will be tested when Adam is found brutally murdered in the couple’s Hampton home and Ethan is considered the prime suspect. 

Ethan’s peril brings the two sisters together after a long estrangement and against the background of Ethan’s trial, the two women attempt to sort out their family history. Adam was portrayed as the strict parent, who threatened to have Ethan sent off to a military school. Was that enough reason for Ethan to kill his father? What about Chloe? Tension had been building between her and Adam. He was resentful because she earned more money than he did in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. When he accepted a job in a law firm, he may have been making a larger salary, but enjoying the work less. He directed his anger at Chloe.

Although Nicky has been out of Adam’s life and, indeed, Ethan’s life, for years, she still has some scores to settle. She’s managed to turn her life around, drug free and earning a living designing jewelry. She’s also willing to gran Chloe status as Ethan’s true mother. It’s clear, however, that her brief marriage to Adam left her scarred. Would that anger lead her to murder Adam?

As in her previous mysteries, Alafair Burke created flesh and blood characters and an intricate plot that keeps us engaged. She slowly reveals details that lead to a very satisfying conclusion. And we’re left with the final question, who was the better sister?

The Better Sister
Alafair Burke

Top photo: Bigstock

About Charlene Giannetti (351 Articles)
Charlene Giannetti, editor of Woman Around Town, is the recipient of seven awards from the New York Press Club for articles that have appeared on the website. A graduate of Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Charlene began her career working for a newspaper in Pennsylvania, then wrote for several publications in Washington covering environment and energy policy. In New York, she was an editor at Business Week magazine and her articles have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She is the author of 13 non-fiction books, eight for parents of young adolescents written with Margaret Sagarese, including "The Roller-Coaster Years," "Cliques," and "Boy Crazy." She and Margaret have been keynote speakers at many events and have appeared on the Today Show, CBS Morning, FOX News, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, and many others. Her last book, "The Plantations of Virginia," written with Jai Williams, was published by Globe Pequot Press in February, 2017. Her podcast, WAT-CAST, interviewing men and women making news, is available on Soundcloud and on iTunes. She is one of the producers for the film "Life After You," focusing on the opioid/heroin crisis that completed filming on February 1, 2020. Charlene divides her time between homes in Manhattan and Alexandria, Virginia.