Readers of The Better Sister, Alafair Burke’s wonderfully twisty new thriller should get ready to be led down the garden path to a conclusion so morally ambiguous a professional ethicist might have to be called in. You end up feeling both horrified and vaguely complicit ... The murder trial takes up the last third of the story, and it’s knowingly and suspensefully dramatized by Burke, herself a former prosecutor.
Burke slowly, skillfully reveals the story ... Like all of Burke’s novels, The Better Sister benefits from her inside knowledge of the legal system ... Burke is just as adept at creating complex characters and the relationships between them ... As always, Burke keeps the book’s action fast-paced and full of surprises.
The Better Sister exhibits characteristics of domestic noir, thriller, and suspense all layered on top a good, old-fashioned whodunit ... as with all good tales of domestic suspense, nothing is what it appears on the surface ... Regardless of whose head we’re in, Burke’s dynamic voice and page-turning storytelling compels the reader forward to find out where all the various threads will lead ... In addition to the powerful characteristics of a thriller, The Better Sister is also a psychological investigation of social media, gender in business, childrearing, and family ties ... a compelling thriller.
..[an] insightful, exciting family thriller. Burke imbues The Better Sister with a sense of authenticity as each character — and their secrets and flaws — never seems false ... Burke hits the ground running with the highly entertaining The Better Sister, and the story continues to peak in one believable twist after another. Surprises lead The Better Sister to a sizzling finale.
Alafair Burke delivers one hell of a whodunit, wrapped around a brilliant drama about family, relationships, and sister rivalry. Careful not to hit readers over the head with all their backstory at once, Burke’s latest thriller starts fast, pulling readers in from the get-go, before she skillfully and slowly pulls the curtain back a little more with each passing page ... And just when you think you have this one figured out, she lands her best twist yet. Burke brings her A-game here ... the real magic lies in the mystery at the heart of this powerful family drama that packs a major twist and an ending that’ll leave readers stunned.
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.
The fans who put Burke's (The Wife, 2018, etc.) last domestic thriller on the bestseller list are going to be happy with this one, a gimmick-free murder mystery with a two-stage surprise ending and uncommonly few credibility-straining plot elements ... You'll think you have this thing all figured out, but a series of reveals at the eleventh hour upend those theories ... You'll kill this one fast and be glad you did.