Oyinkan Braithwaite: My Sister, The Serial Killer

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Would you help your sister dispose of the body of a man she’s murdered – especially if it’s the third time she’s killed a man with the knife she always takes in her handbag when she goes on a date? Korede googles “serial killer” and decides that her sister Ayoola qualifies, but she never seriously considers refusing to help her or turning her in. She hasn’t got much chance of convincing her not to do it again – once the body is disposed of it’s as if it never happened anyway as far as Ayoola’s concerned. And then Tade, with whom Korede’s silently in love, falls for Ayoola. Is he the next victim?

Gorgeous, feckless Ayoola and plain, efficient Korede ­­– it’s a familiar romantic triangle in many a novel. Usually the plain one ends up getting the man when he realises what a snake the gorgeous one is – but Oyinkan Braithwaite doesn’t do “usual”. She plays fast and loose with the conventions of the crime novel and the romantic novel, but there’s not much to laugh about in the corruption and incompetence of the Nigerian police or the casual lust and violence of this male-dominated society. Ayoola’s curvaceous beauty is an automatic turn-on, but in this case she’s not the victim, she’s the one with power, interested only in what she can get and disdainful of the stupidity of men who fall in love with her.

And Korede? Is she the upright citizen she seems to be, torn between her love for her sister and her moral duty, or is she, in the end, fully as ruthless as Ayoola?  You’ll enjoy the hot and cool in this little book, but it will leave you more than a bit uneasy.

My Sister, the Serial Killer won the 2019 LA Times Award for Best Crime Thriller and was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2019.

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