My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – review

Published by Atlantic Books

Publication date – 26 September 2019

Source – own copy

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…

When Korede receives a call from her sister Ayoola she knows what to do. The same thing as the previous two times. She collects her cleaning things, drives to meet her and proceeds to get rid of the body of her sister’s boyfriend, who Ayoola has just dispatched in ‘self-defence’. Is it coincidence that Ayoola has had a string of bad boyfriends, who were such a threat she had to lethally defend herself three times? Will it be any different with Tade, the new man in her life, who just happens to be the man Korede is in love with?

When I mentioned on social media that I had just bought this book, and that I was tempted to push it to the top of the to read pile, I received many comments advising me to do just that.  I was told that this was a quick read and so I tried the first chapter to see. Those social media commentators were right. My Sister the Serial Killer is eminently easy to read, the short sharp chapters mean the reader flies through the book, which can easily be read in a morning. That is not to it’s detriment. There is dark humour littered throughout, with Korede and Ayoola’s response to the murders giving it a sharp edge.

The reader soon becomes aware there is something amiss with Ayoola and Korede. Whilst Ayoola’s moral compass points in a completely different direction to everyone else, Korede’s is slightly out of sync. She knows what she is doing is wrong, but still does it. Ayoola on the other hand seems to think murder is her right, and the clean up of it someone else’s responsibility.

Korede seems to justify Ayoola’s actions so that in turn, her own actions are reasonable. She blames her father for how he treated them both, her mother for pandering to Ayoola, her sister for being too beautiful, and the men for falling for her. She too is swayed by beauty. That of her sister, against whom she is always compared, and the men her sister kills. The first one to really haunt her is the man we see the sisters dispose of in the opening chapters. It is his looks that Korede can’t forget, his poetry. She shrugs off the first two men, who are barely mentioned but whose physical features don’t meet with Korede’s approval. Korede seems to resent Ayoola’s beauty but also uses it to excuse her behaviour. Ayoola’s killer instinct is used by Korede to feel important, and somewhat superior. She is the only person her sister will ever truly need. Whilst she is swayed by Ayoola’s looks, Korede comes to detest the trait in others, especially in Tade, the doctor who Korede is secretly in love with and who immediately falls for her sister when they meet.

Both sisters suffered as children from abuse from their father, seen through the eyes of Korede as a mean, spiteful man, interested only in himself and his career. He died some years earlier and it becomes apparent that his death had a profound affect on both women, perhaps sowing the seeds for the future actions of both.

I loved the setting of the novel. There is some commentary on the views of marriage, with the sisters mother pressing for both of her daughters to marry. The police and authorities are barely involved in the book but there are scenes where payments are made for infractions and the returning of property that are dealt with in such a way as to make these seem routine rather than corrupt.

My Sister, the Serial Killer, is a darkly comic look at what happens after a murder and of misplaced loyalty.  The question the reader is left with is who is worse, Ayoola for her actions or Korede for coldly covering for her.

About the author

Oyinkan Braithwaite is a graduate of Creative Writing and Law from Kingston University. Following her degree, she worked as an assistant editor at Kachifo and has been freelancing as a writer and editor since. She has had short stories published in anthologies and has also self published work. In 2014, she was shortlisted as a top ten spoken word artist in the Eko Poetry Slam.

This was book 3 in my 20 Books of Summer 2020 challenge.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. I enjoyed this one. A quick, fun read.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. janetemson says:

      It is exactly that!


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