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, quote, 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 the doctor 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…
Ayoola summons me with these words – Korede, I killed him.
I listened to the audiobook of My Sister, the Serial Killer and it was different to what I was expecting, but in a good way! This was originally published in Nigeria under the title Thicker Than Water. The book leaves you wondering whether blood is indeed thicker than water. It’s set in Lagos and is narrated by Korede, a steadfast nurse whose younger sister Ayoola has a propensity for killing her boyfriends. Korede and Ayoola have a sibling rivalry which intensifies when Ayoola starts dating Korede’s crush, Tade.
I would describe this as more of a family drama than a traditional thriller, with elements of mystery and a love story. The novel mostly focuses on the sisterly relationship between Korede and Ayoola. It’s also a social commentary on how women are judged on their looks alone. Ayoola is considered to be beautiful, whereas poor Korede is not. Oyinkan Braithwaite poses the question as to whether good-looking people are more likely to get away with murder. My personal theory is yes, and that’s actually scary when you think about it.
Highlights include the dark humour which is woven into the story. I liked how the reader learns about Ayoola’s victims – they are shown to be real people whose lives are cut short. I also enjoyed the fast pace and short chapters which made it a compelling read, or in my case, listen.
Korede and Ayoola have a complex yet strong bond. These two look out for each other because they’ve been through a lot. I did feel for Korede because she loves her sister even though Ayoola is a serial killer. As the older sibling, she literally has to clean up the mess that Ayoola keeps leaving behind. And yet, at the same time, you do feel conflicted because Korede turns a blind eye to what’s going on.
Many of the characters in this book are unlikeable, excepting for one who is decent and kind. While the ending was rather abrupt, it did surprise me, and I think this would make a great film.
A darkly humourous and satirical debut novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite.
My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐