I’m not sure how I first came across My Sister, the Serial Killer on Netgalley, but I’m so glad I did – this is a wonderfully dark yet humorous novel that I thoroughly enjoyed.
A blackly comic novel about lies, love, Lagos, and how blood is thicker – and more difficult to get out of the carpet – than water.
Femi makes three you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.
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 fit 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…
I absolutely loved the opening chapter to My Sister, the Serial Killer which is, in its entirety:
Ayoola summons me with these words – Korede, I killed him.
I had hoped I would never hear those words again.
In this way, Braithwaite drops the reader straight in at the deep end, as we, along with Korede, are called to the scene of a stabbing that Korede is required to clean up. It tells the reader so much more than those 20 little words might suggest, in that it’s clear that this is not the first time this has happened. I thought that this was brilliantly clever, and I was immediately hooked, and I wanted to know more – not least why Korede had experienced such as unusual summons before.
This is a relatively short novel, but it doesn’t skimp on character development, and I loved Korede. She seems like such a good person, yet one who is caught up in the ties of sisterly loyalty which have been tested to the limit. She seems accepting of her lot in life, and while she is not jealous of Ayoola, it’s difficult for her not to feel some resentment when Tade, the handsome doctor she has her eye on, falls for Ayoola’s charms. this leaves Korede with something of a dilemma – should she follow her heart and try to protect Tade from the inevitable, or should she stand by Ayoola and let her do her thing?
Ayoola is also an interesting character, although very different to Korede. She comes across as a modern-day black widow, and her beauty and glamour mean that she has no shortage of men offering to be her next victim boyfriend. Ayoola pushes the idea of sisterly loyalty to the extremes, expecting Korede to help her cover up her crimes, and Korede, as the eldest, has had it drummed into her from an early age that she is responsible for her sister. While reading, it wasn’t entirely clear to me why Ayoola acts as she does. The novel is told from Korede’s point of view, and so we don’t get the insight in Ayoola’s thoughts directly, but as I learnt more of their background, I came to understand her motives which aren’t stated explicitly, but revealed indirectly as Korede shares more of their history.
Told in short, sharp chapters that keep the reader engaged, this is a brilliantly dark yet amusing novel that I really enjoyed.
My Sister, the Serial Killer will be published on 3 January by Atlantic Books. Many thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read this title ahead of publication via Netgalley.
Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐