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A Review of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s “My Sister the Serial Killer”

 

By Ursula Edmands


Thursday, June 4, 2020.

 

A thriller with a difference- this entertaining novel from Nigerian author, Oyinkan Braithwaite, hooked me from its very first sentence, “I bet you didn’t know that bleach masks the smell of blood”, and kept me guessing almost to the end, 266 pages later. 

Ms Braithwaite, who says she is not interested in writing about the political or economic situation in her country, nevertheless paints a convincing picture of middle-class Nigerian life today. The background to the main story shows a society where it is perfectly normal to have servants to pick up the mess, and generally run the household, helping with elaborate tea parties and dinners, and equally possible, we are asked to believe, to dispose of embarrassing corpses in under the bridge over a lagoon in which the victims of a horrific traffic accident are decaying. At least, muses the narrator, “Femi (the latest corpse) will have company.” 

The narrator is Korede, the elder of two sisters, whose father died in mysterious circumstances not to be discussed publicly although there are clear hints of domestic abuse. She works as a nurse in a large hospital where she efficiently manages the staff and harbours an unrequited love for one of the surgeons. Her sister, Ayoola, the serial killer of the title, is a glamorous fashion designer, whose looks mean that men everywhere fall in love with and desire her as soon as they meet her. She, however, is prompted to kill them as soon as they get too close, and then has to ask Korede for help to “clean up” the mess - hence the reference to bleach with which the novel begins. 

Quite why Ayoola is driven to kill so many men without, it seems a qualm or expression of remorse, is never made entirely clear, although her secret is linked to the way in which her father died, and why he too, had to be killed. 

Well written, witty, and full of laugh aloud moments, interspersed with descriptions of daily life which invoke either horrified amazement (at police behaviour, traffic management, for example) depict intimate glimpses of normality in the sisters’ comfortable home, the pace never slows. The reader is kept in suspense to the end of this truly original tale of two sisters bound to each other by their mother’s dictum, uttered when Ayoola was born, “You’re the big sister now, Korede. And big sisters look after little sisters.” 

 

“My Sister the Serial Killer” is available on Amazon.

 

 

A Review of Oyinkan Braithwaite’s “My Sister the Serial Killer”

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