My Sister, The Serial Killer

Written by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Review written by Ali Karim

Ali Karim was a Board Member of Bouchercon [The World Crime & Mystery Convention] and co-chaired programming for Bouchercon Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015. He is Assistant Editor of Shots eZine, British correspondent for The Rap Sheet and writes and reviews for many US magazines & Ezines.

My Sister, The Serial Killer
Atlantic Books
RRP: £12.99
Released: January 3 2019

This concise little novel is thriller - or is it a melodrama, or is it a black comedy or a tale of twisted morality, or a song of redemption, of twisted family loyalties? That’s the issue, because this debut novel is all of the above, and more, far more.

It starts mid-story and then replays the past deeds, and occurrences with an eye to how the events of childhood are like vines, creeping into the present.

Two sisters live in Lagos, Nigeria, their reality intertwined to form a deadly secret. Older sister Korede works as a nurse, diligently looking after the infirm. She’s not unattractive, and has been falling for Tade, a newly arrived Doctor at the hospital. Her younger sister Ayoola is lighter-skinned, and of an uncommon beauty that makes men stop, stare and imagine being in her embrace.

The problem for Koreda, the nurse is that her little sister Ayoola has murdered three men; and that makes her a serial killer. The men have been her boyfriends, her lovers and perhaps a source of something else. She claims self-defence and relies on her older sister to clean-up the mess.

Torn by moral dilemma, Korede deploys her skills in methodically and dispassionately clearing away the evidence of her sister’s deeds, and masking them. She does this because of her loyalty and love of her little sister. To cope with her life, she visits Muhtar a patient in room 313, a man in a coma and one who is unlikely to regain consciousness – so she sits alone by his bedside, and talks to him. Muhtar becomes a surrogate priest who unconsciously hears Korede’s confessions, her torment and rationalisations for what she has become.

Korede’s life at the hospital is routine and uneventful, until the young dashing Doctor Tade arrives.

In contrast to Korede’s mundane life of a nurse caring for the ill, Ayoola’s life is colourful. She’s become a fashion designer utilising all the skills of social media, hashtags, Instagram, Facebook et al to market an array of fashion items, clothes that she models online. Because of her beauty, Ayoola has difficulty coping with the orders for her designs for they come to her in volume. The orders are from women who think if they wear the clothes she models, perhaps they too will become like the designer – a magnet for ‘base’ male desire.

The turning point for Korede occurs when her little sister visits the hospital, and sees Dr Tade – or rather when Dr Tade sees Ayoola.

And there hangs this concise little tale, one that will have the reader enchanted, for despite its size, it is a very big book. A novel filled with ideas and thoughts about what can rest at the very base of the desires a man can have for a woman. It is also a wickedly funny book, a satire of sorts but most of all it packs a huge punch for the mind.

The audio version available from Audible; read / performed by Weruche Opia is such a joy, though only four and a half hours long, it will rest in the mind for far longer than it took to read, or to listen.  

It is of no surprise that this debut novel, has been shortlisted for the 2019 women’s prize for fiction, because as a reading experience – it’s a killer.

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