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The Better Sister


The Better Sister

Chloe Macintosh has achieved her dream as she prepares to receive a coveted national publishing award at a New York gala as editor in chief of Eve, one of the last remaining monthly women’s magazines. In an era when print publications are washing up like driftwood on a beach as ezines fulfill the millennial appetite for instant information, Eve has triumphed due to Chloe’s staying in tune with the times. This ambition may have tested her relationship with Adam, her husband of 14 years who is a successful attorney in a prestigious New York law firm. Adam is currently up to his neck in an undercover case and barely makes it to the ceremony.

The couple arranges to relax and unwind at their East Hampton beach house over the weekend. Tragically, though, Chloe arrives to find Adam stabbed to death in a pool of blood on the family room floor. Suspicion automatically points to “the wife” but soon shifts to Adam’s 17-year-old son, Ethan, who is arrested, jailed and charged with his father’s murder.

"I stuck with every word, turning pages well into the night, right up to the surprising denouement --- and, better yet, to a final shocking twist."

What follows is a page-turning thriller about the complex dynamic among successful Chloe; her sister, Nicky; and Adam, who was married to both of them. Chloe has raised Ethan as her own since he was a toddler as Nicky struggled with drug abuse and mental illness, which finally ended her marriage to Adam. Chloe and Adam later married, and the sisters’ always-strained relationship is further tested when police discover evidence pointing directly to young Ethan.

If there are DNA markers for writing skills, Alafair Burke comes by them as the daughter of James Lee Burke, who in my humble opinion is the best detective thriller writer out there. Burke the Elder has featured a young lady named Alafair in his Dave Robicheaux bestsellers. Burke the Younger has now published 13 novels on her own and co-authored the Under Suspicion series with Mary Higgins Clark, the Queen of Suspense.

Burke is also well versed in the law as she served as an assistant in the San Francisco-based United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and as a Deputy District Attorney in Portland, Oregon. Her many legal thrillers stand up to the test of authenticity as she follows Ethan’s incarceration and trial as a juvenile, while Chloe and Nicky struggle to mend their long and deep open wounds so they can clear his name and find Adam’s killer.

Courtroom procedurals, of which I am a fan, can drone on and on, leading the reader to start skimming to get to the “good parts.” This is not the case with THE BETTER SISTER. Burke navigates the twists and turns of the trial and search for the truth with the skill not only of a legal scholar (she also teaches law in her “spare” time), but of a seasoned and gifted writer. I stuck with every word, turning pages well into the night, right up to the surprising denouement --- and, better yet, to a final shocking twist.

Reviewed by Roz Shea on April 19, 2019

The Better Sister
by Alafair Burke