My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel
“Braithwaite has the ability to interject the unexpected and interpolate the tension.”
By the end of this novel you almost believe the tale it tells, bizarre as it is. My Sister the Serial Killer stretches the imagination, makes unbelievable events plausible, and lures the reader into a fascinating world.
The author grew up in Nigeria and Britain. It was written in a month and was grabbed immediately by publishers on both sides of the Atlantic and might soon be made into a film.
The plot revolves around two sisters in their twenties, one of whom, Ayoola, a successful fashion designer, is exceptionally beautiful and rakes in the admirers. The older sister, a nurse, Koredi, is more grounded and makes a lot of effort to head off the wilder antics of her sister.
The younger sister has a penchant for killing her boyfriends and the elder, so responsible does she feel she is for her sister’s welfare, has to help clear up the mess—blood and gore on the carpet and in the bathroom—and help dispose the bodies in Nigeria’s capital, the teaming city of Lagos.
After the third murder Koredi tries to shame Ayoola. “Three, and they label you a serial killer.” Koredi worries that Ayoola will be caught. “I imagine her trying to blab her way out of it and being found guilty. The thought tickles me. I relish it for a moment, and then I force myself to set the fantasy aside. She is my sister. I don’t want her to rot in jail, and besides, Ayoola being Ayoola, she would probably convince the court that she was innocent. Her actions were the fault of her victims and she had acted as any reasonable, gorgeous person would under the circumstances.”
The sisters have grown up in an upper middle-class neighborhood where crime is rare. Despite the rigorous morality of their parents the younger sister does her own thing whatever it may be. Ayoola becomes careless about the taking of life and travels around with a sharp kitchen knife in her handbag. The father has left his family and Ayoola, released from his punishment for transgressions, sometimes with the use of a cane, is overjoyed to be set free to live life as she wants it. Her mother is not strong enough to subdue her devilish willpower.
Braithwaite has a deceptively simple writing technique. The chapters are short—often only one and a half pages—the sentences are unadorned and straightforward. But Braithwaite has the ability to interject the unexpected and interpolate the tension.
One scene after another demonstrates the author’s ability to explore the unusual. Here’s one: Koredi, the nurse, is looking after a comatose patient in the hospital. In order to get the killings off her chest she often talks to the dying man about her worries. To her it is a listening ear of a man practically dead. Then to everyone’s surprise the patient makes an unexpected recovery. Good for him and his family but bad for Koredi as he has in his unconscious state remembered the key elements of what she confessed. But aware of what a good nurse she has been to him, he eventually decides to keep the information to himself. Luck always seems to be on the sisters’ side.