Thrilling: MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Title: My Sister, The Serial Killer

Author: Oyinkan Braithwaite

Genre: Literary Fiction, Thrillers

Publisher: Doubleday Books (US) / Atlantic Books (UK)
Publication date: November 2018 / January 2019
Hardcover: 240 pages

When Korede’s dinner is interrupted one night by a distress call from her sister, Ayoola, she knows what’s expected of her: bleach, rubber gloves, nerves of steel and a strong stomach. This’ll be the third boyfriend Ayoola’s dispatched in, quote, self-defence and the third mess that her lethal little sibling has left Korede to clear away. She should probably go to the police for the good of the menfolk of Nigeria, but she loves her sister and, as they say, family always comes first. Until, that is, Ayoola starts dating the doctor where Korede works as a nurse. Korede’s long been in love with him, and isn’t prepared to see him wind up with a knife in his back: but to save one would mean sacrificing the other…

Stand alone or series: Stand alone

How did I get this book: Bought

Format (e- or p-): print

Review

What would
you do for those you love? How far would you go for them?

My Sister, The Serial Killer, a new murder thriller by debut
author Oyinkan Braithwaite asks these and other ethically complicated questions.
The opening act throws the reader immediately into the moral waters of the main
character Korede’s complicity with the murders committed by her beloved younger
sister Alooya.

“You’re a big
sister now, Korede. And big sisters look after little sisters.”

The novel opens
with Korede getting a fateful phone call from Alooya, who has just killed her
boyfriend (in self-defence, she says) and will Korede please come and help her.
“Helping” means rubber gloves, bleach and a willingness to help dispose of the
body and cover their tracks. What we soon come to learn is that this is not the
first time Alooya killed in self-defence. It is in fact, the third time. The
third time that Korede has helped covering it up too. And if the third killing
makes Alooya technically, a serial killer, what does that make Korede?

Without
anyone she can share her thoughts with (she really cannot talk to their mother),
Korede unburdens her heavy heart to a comatose patient at the hospital she
works as a nurse. But one day, the patient wakes up and he tells her that he remembers
everything she has ever told him. To complicate matters even further, Alooya shows
interest in dating Tade, the kind, thoughtful doctor Korede is in love with. Will
Alooya do it again? Will Tade be the next one? Has Korede’s competence in
cleaning crime scenes enabled Alooya to feel even freer to commit these
murders?  

Korede, as the
dutiful, plain, older sister to Alooya’s flashy, vibrant beauty has experienced
different treatment all their lives – from home life to society at large. Seeing
the way people treat beautiful vs plain women has really opened Korede eyes,
and her narrative encompasses a witty criticism and observation. But the same
thing happens with Tade too, Korede wanders if he is really that kind and thoughtful
or yet another man looking for “superficial beauty”, whatever that may mean?

Speaking of
their home life, the sisters guard yet another secret, something so portentous
and enormous it only appears in the narrative as snippets from the past. But those
snippets serve to anchor the sisters’ bond even deeper. There is a lifetime of
endurance and a legacy of violence that may be at the core of what has shaped
Alooya into what she is – or at least, this is another potential question
raised by the book with respect to nature versus nurture.

Beneath Oyinkan
Braithwaite’s crisp, sparse, darkly funny prose lies a thoughtful, astute look
at sisterhood, beauty, social media, what men want, how women respond to that
and more importantly, the legacy of abuse and privilege.

Already a
notable read of 2019.

Rating: 8 – Excellent

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