Book Review: My Sister, the Serial Killer

My Sister, the Serial Killer, by Oyinkan Braithwaite, tells the story of two sisters living with their mother in Lagos, Nigeria. Their father is dead. He was a successful if corrupt businessman and the family live in a degree of comfort. They have no reason to mourn his demise.

Ayoola is the younger sister. She is considered beautiful and turns the heads of every man she meets. She designs clothes which she then models online, understanding how to dress to flatter her looks and figure. Ayoola enjoys the power her appearance gives her, readily accepting the gifts and attention she receives.

Her older sister, Korede, has been aware since she was a child that she is not regarded as so aesthetically pleasing. Her mother has always expected her to look out for Ayoola. When the story opens she is helping clean up the blood from her sister’s latest murder victim. Unlike the previous men killed, this one continues to play on Korede’s mind as she questions why her sister stabbed him.

At the hospital where Korede works as a nurse there is a coma patient who is not expected to survive. This man is the only person Korede can talk to about her concerns. A young and popular doctor, Tade, who is her friend and who Korede would like to become more, complements her on the care she gives a patient others have given up on. Other colleagues are less than complementary about her efforts here and elsewhere.

When Ayoola decides to visit Korede at the hospital she meets Tade, much to her sister’s consternation. The compassionate, supposedly self-aware and empathetic doctor is then shown to be as facile as other men. Even so, Korede is concerned that his attraction to Ayoola puts his life in danger. She must choose between caring for her sister and the man she had dreamed of winning over for herself.

This is a story of: murder, or perhaps it was self defense; misogynistic abuse and the scars this leaves; corruption that skews the credibility of law enforcement; a society that sees marriage as a woman’s destiny.

The writing has a light almost playful quality yet it pierces the heart of the issues explored. The flow and structure, with short chapters and a fast moving plot, keep the reader effortlessly engaged. It is a surprisingly strong yet entertaining read.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the publisher, Atlantic Books.