Review | My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

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I’ll be the first to admit that I do not like horror or mystery or any form of sinister suspense because I get scared easily. But when I spotted this book on goodreads, I knew I had to read it. And now that I have, I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.

Summary: “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 “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 a doctor at the hospital 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.” (from goodreads)

I like the story, but not the narration. This might be the fault of the narrating character, Korede, who I did not like (more on that later) or maybe just the author’s style. It’s a short read, 226 pages, but it took me a while to finish because of my problems with the narration. It did get better in the end, and I laughed a few times–there’s a sort of dry humor in this book, which is refreshing given the plot.

As an aside, I think the cover is quite stunning. I like the bold colours, and the woman on the cover. I noticed when I finished the book, that there’s a knife reflected in the woman’s sunglasses and I think it’s a nice touch–given that a knife is Ayoola’s weapon of choice.

A goodreads reviewer described Korede as a “resentful, yearning enabler” and I couldn’t agree more. I empathised on her childhood trauma, but for everything else she just seemed a little whiny to me. She kept complaining about her sister and her life, but did nothing to change it. And even when she had an out in the end, she literally burnt it.

I understand that she feels an obligation to protect her sister, and that their crimes are tied. If Ayoola goes down, Korede would probably go down with her–and rightly so because she’s aiding and abbetting. For someone who’s an accomplice to a crime, she was very judgemental, and I could not get past that.

But again, the storyline was enjoyable. And I liked the other characters. Korede’s assessment of them seemed relatable, like I could possibly know versions of these characters in real life. It seems like the author did a lot of research because of the attention to detail and some of the descriptions in the novel. Like how Korede knew exactly how to wipe a crime scene, and the bit about the 3rd Mainland Bridge. I also like how she pointed out the shortcomings of the Nigerian police. I was hoping that would come up at some point, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a situation where they gather forensic evidence and analysed it properly. It would have been unrealistic to pretend that the Nigerian system is on par with the Western police system.

I’d rate this book 2.5 out of 5 stars. I look forward to reading more books from this author, maybe just not something with Korede in it.

Let me know what you think of my review in the comments. I know a lot of people loved this book. Sadly, I didn’t connect to it.

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