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My Sister, the Serial Killer
Cover of My Sister, the Serial Killer
My Sister, the Serial Killer
A Novel
Borrow Borrow
"Pulpy, peppery and sinister, served up in a comic deadpan...This scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember."—NEW YORK TIMES
"The wittiest and most fun murder party you've ever been invited to."—MARIE CLAIRE
WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 WOMEN'S PRIZE
A short, darkly funny, hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends

"Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer."
Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead.
Korede's practicality is the sisters' saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her "missing" boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she's exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola's phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she's willing to go to protect her.
Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite's deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.
"Pulpy, peppery and sinister, served up in a comic deadpan...This scorpion-tailed little thriller leaves a response, and a sting, you will remember."—NEW YORK TIMES
"The wittiest and most fun murder party you've ever been invited to."—MARIE CLAIRE
WINNER OF THE LOS ANGELES TIMES BOOK PRIZE FOR MYSTERY/THRILLER
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 WOMEN'S PRIZE
A short, darkly funny, hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends

"Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer."
Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola's third boyfriend in a row is dead.
Korede's practicality is the sisters' saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her "missing" boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.
Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she's exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola's phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she's willing to go to protect her.
Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite's deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover

    Words

    Ayoola summons me with these words—Korede, I killed him.

    I had hoped I would never hear those words again.
     

    Bleach

    I bet you didn’t know that bleach masks the smell of blood. Most people use bleach indiscriminately, assum­ing it is a catchall product, never taking the time to read the list of ingredients on the back, never taking the time to return to the recently wiped surface to take a closer look. Bleach will disinfect, but it’s not great for cleaning residue, so I use it only after I have first scrubbed the bathroom of all traces of life, and death.

    It is clear that the room we are in has been remod­eled recently. It has that never-been-used look, especially now that I’ve spent close to three hours cleaning up. The hardest part was getting to the blood that had seeped in between the shower and the caulking. It’s an easy part to forget.

    There’s nothing placed on any of the surfaces; his shower gel, toothbrush and toothpaste are all stored in the cabinet above the sink. Then there’s the shower mat—a black smiley face on a yellow rectangle in an otherwise white room.

    Ayoola is perched on the toilet seat, her knees raised and her arms wrapped around them. The blood on her dress has dried and there is no risk that it will drip on the white, now glossy floors. Her dreadlocks are piled atop her head, so they don’t sweep the ground. She keeps looking up at me with her big brown eyes, afraid that I am angry, that I will soon get off my hands and knees to lecture her.

    I am not angry. If I am anything, I am tired. The sweat from my brow drips onto the floor and I use the blue sponge to wipe it away.

    I was about to eat when she called me. I had laid everything out on the tray in preparation—the fork was to the left of the plate, the knife to the right. I folded the napkin into the shape of a crown and placed it at the center of the plate. The movie was paused at the begin­ning credits and the oven timer had just rung, when my phone began to vibrate violently on my table.

    By the time I get home, the food will be cold.

    I stand up and rinse the gloves in the sink, but I don’t remove them. Ayoola is looking at my reflection in the mirror.

    “We need to move the body,” I tell her.

    “Are you angry at me?”

    Perhaps a normal person would be angry, but what I feel now is a pressing need to dispose of the body. When I got here, we carried him to the boot of my car, so that I was free to scrub and mop without having to countenance his cold stare.

    “Get your bag,” I reply.

    We return to the car and he is still in the boot, wait­ing for us.

    The third mainland bridge gets little to no traffic at this time of night, and since there are no lamplights, it’s almost pitch black, but if you look beyond the bridge you can see the lights of the city. We take him to where we took the last one—over the bridge and into the water. At least he won’t be lonely.

    Some of the blood has seeped into the lining of the boot. Ayoola offers to clean it, out of guilt, but I take my homemade mixture of one spoon of ammonia to two cups of water from her and pour it over the stain. I don’t know whether or not they have the tech for a thorough crime scene investigation in Lagos, but Ayoola could never clean up as efficiently as I can.
     

    The Notebook

    “Who was he?”

    “Femi.”

    I scribble the name down. We are in my bedroom. Ayoola is sitting...

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from September 10, 2018
    Braithwaite’s blazing debut is as sharp as the knife that twists in the chest of Femi, the now-dead boyfriend of Ayoola, whose boyfriends, curiously, seem to keep winding up dead in her presence. Femi makes dead boyfriend number three—each were killed in self-defense, according to Ayoola—and, per usual, Ayoola’s older sister, Korede, is called upon to help dispose of the body. The only confidante Korede has is a coma patient at the Lagos hospital where she works, which is the only place she can go to escape Ayoola. It is also where she can see the man she loves, a handsome and thoughtful doctor named Tade. Of course, this means that when the capricious Ayoola decides to start visiting her sister at work, she takes notice of him, and him of her. This is the last straw for Korede, who realizes she is both the only person who understands how dangerous her sister is and the only person who can intervene before her beloved Tade gets hurt, or worse. Interwoven with Korede, Ayoola, and Tade’s love triangle is the story of Korede and Ayoola’s upbringing, which is shadowed by the memory of their father, a cruel man who met a tragic and accidental death—or did he? As Korede notes when she considers her own culpability in her sister’s temperament: “His blood is my blood and my blood is hers.” The reveal at the end isn’t so much a “gotcha” moment as the dawning of an inevitable, creeping feeling that Braithwaite expertly crafts over the course of the novel. This is both bitingly funny and brilliantly executed, with not a single word out of place.

  • AudioFile Magazine Adepero Oduye narrates this audiobook as though it were written for her. Speaking in short, pithy chapters, full of sarcasm and self-loathing, she embodies Korede, the older sister of a prodigal sibling who is a serial killer. You will laugh along as this nurse turned cover-up artist works to hide her sister, Ayoola's, murderous habit of breaking up with boyfriends. This is twist on the tale of the prodigal son, with two Nigerian sisters, one an older sibling who gets our sympathy plus our mirth. Oduye is sardonic, mournful, and worried in all the right places, making this an enjoyable listening experience that also somehow rings true, despite the implausible premise. Told in five-minute chapters, this is a title to save for traffic jams. M.R. � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
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A Novel
Oyinkan Braithwaite
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