At Last, a Female Serial Killer From West Africa

Anyone Can be a Murderous Psychopath!

Serial killers are having a moment. There’s The Ted Bundy Tapes on Netflix, the wildly popular My Favorite Murder podcast and the bestseller I’ll Be Gone in the Dark about the search for the Golden State killer. White male psychopaths seem to fascinate everyone I know. Which is why the novel My Sister, the Serial Killer offers such a breath of fresh air.

Nigerian writer Oyinkan Braithwaite’s witty debut is a story about two sisters in Lagos, Nigeria. The narrator, Korede, is a sensible nurse, and her younger sister Ayoola is a beautiful social media fashion designer. You know the type. Unfortunately, besides hashtagging her lunch and dressing to flaunt her considerable assets, Ayoola’s other main habit just happens to be brutally murdering her boyfriends with her father’s knife. Her killing spree becomes even messier when she begins dating Korede’s boss and current crush, and Korede, her biggest enabler, must decide if she wants to intervene. Or not. It’s complicated.

“The most loving parents and relatives commit murder with smiles on their faces. They force us to destroy the person we really are: a subtle kind of murder,” says Korede. She’s right about that. Even Ted Bundy’s poor mother defended him until the end.

Fast, deadpan, darkly funny and coming in at only 228 pages, My Sister, the Serial Killer is a lesson in how to write economically, yet with a lot of punch. There’s nothing extraneous in this and, like me, you’ll probably read it in one sitting. Braithwaite keeps the thriller tension high while still nailing complicated family dynamics, Nigerian police procedure, the good and bad about coma patients and Africa’s traditional gender roles. Even better, she ends the novel in a way I didn’t at all expect. Finally, a sociopath with a little diversity.

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Wendi Aarons

Wendi Aarons is the creator of @paulryangosling. She writes the USWeekly Fashion Police column and comic essays for McSweeneys. Mostly she writes notes that she leaves on cars parked by assholes. She’s lived in Austin, Texas for 20 years and hopes you don’t move there.

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