Sisters in Crime: a review of My Sister, the Serial Killer
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"Ayoola summons me with these words - 'Korede, I killed him.' I had hoped I would never hear those words again."
From the very first page Oyinkan Braithwaite's novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer, is fast-paced and fueled by anxiety, resentment and suspense. Just shy of 230 pages, Braithwaite's tale of sisters in crime is a unique work of fiction that, at its core, contemplates how far we will go to protect the ones we love.
The narrator, Korede, is Ayoola's older sister. By birthright she is tasked with protecting Ayoola who, in her own words, is considered the prettier one of the two. From birth, Ayoola was valued based on her beauty and, as the reader learns, was almost traded away from her family in a business deal by the sisters' father. Ayoola's looks have helped her dodge any suspicion as to the whereabouts of her missing boyfriends, all of whom are eventually discovered to be dead.
"Femi makes three, you know. Three, and they label you a serial killer."
It is boyfriend number three, Femi, who Korede helps to dispose of at the opening of the book. As I listened to the audiobook I was enthralled by Korede's meticulous description of cleaning and disinfecting, moving and planning for the transport of Femi's body, and the actual act of throwing his body off a bridge, so much so that I felt Korede was just as twisted as her sister.
Set in Lagos, Nigeria, Korede works as a nurse whose life revolves around her job and her family. Her family consists of only her sister and her mother. Other than that, Korede appears to have no one to confide in. She secretly pines for Tade, a doctor at the hospital where she works. He considers her to be a solid friend, but really doesn't see her beyond the surface. Korede has been tending to a coma patient, Muhtar, who all hospital staff have lost hope of ever waking up. She has told him about Ayoola as he lies unconscious. But then a miraculous thing happens: Muhtar wakes up and things get very interesting for Korede.
Meanwhile, Ayoola is oblivious to her appearance on social media following
the death of Femi and the subsequent investigation. Ayoola is somewhat of an "influencer" on Instagram and it is her curated online presence that seems to keep people distracted from the truth of who she really is. She is able to create a persona apart from her true self - the self only Korede knows. Korede struggles to keep Ayoola from looking insensitive to Femi's death online, and she also can't help but roll her eyes at the attention Ayoola gets and craves online. All because she is pretty.
Soon, Ayoola meets Tade upon a visit to Korede's job, and it is here that Ayoola's reputation truly becomes an actual threat to Korede. Tade is the man she secretly loves, but he immediately falls into Ayoola's trap. He is obsessed with her beauty and Ayoola uses this to her advantage. Korede is torn between betraying her sister and saving Tade from an inevitable fate.
Underlying this sisterly duel is the story of their father and his death. Sandwiched between the present story of Korede and Ayoola's relationship are bits of childhood memories recounted by Korede. They reveal an "original sin," if you will - a point at which the current murders are rooted. Without saying too much, below the surface of satire and dark humor is a story about corruption and abuse.
The writing was impeccable. For this to be so short of a book (some chapters being just a paragraph in length) with a wide cast of characters and backstory, I felt like it was very well written and the characterization was spot on. As I listened to the audiobook, I hung on every word.
This is a fast-paced, thrilling read about how far one sister will go to protect the other, even if it means moving a dead body. If you haven't already, I highly recommend you add it to your TBR.
This is my Review of the Month for the review collection on LovelyAudiobooks.info