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My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite 

Words: Sasha Garwood

Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut novel (subtitled “when blood is thicker than water—and more difficult to get out of the carpet”) does exactly what it promises. Acute, witty, excoriating about families in general and the fallibility of menfolk in particular, it’s a bleak and brilliant slice of life that asks some interesting questions about priorities, abuse and sisterhood.

Korede is a nurse, a good one, caring for patients, managing the ward cleaning and looking after her charming, mellifluous colleague Tade on the side. Ayoola is gorgeous, seductive, and completely merciless. Their traumatic shared childhood has made them close—so close, that when Korede’s phone rings as she’s about to start dinner, she doesn’t even hesitate. Ayoola needs her to clear up a body—but it’s the third body, and Ayoola shows no signs of slowing down. When she sets her sights on Tade, Korede needs to make some decisions about where her loyalties really lie…

It’s short, sharp and blackly funny, immersed in a familiar-yet-alien world of social media updates, social niceties and ethical conflict. Ayoola’s complete lack of moral or emotional comprehension is both hilarious and horrifying, while Korede’s resigned efforts to navigate her sister’s proclivities and maintain some kind of life for herself are believable and sometimes sad. There’s social comedy here—their mother’s innocent attempts to nudge Ayoola’s suitors towards marriage, Tade’s frustrating inability to see beyond Ayoola’s glossy exterior, Korede coaching her sister in appropriately grief-stricken behaviour—and also some interesting glimpses into the lives of wealthy Nigerians. Fascinating and farcical, My Sister, The Serial Killer is a whip-smart and pacy thriller that punches above its weight in terms of psychological insight.

My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite 
£12.99, Atlantic Books

Available at Daunt Books