My Sister, the Serial Killer begins at the cleanup of a murder; Korede is the older sister of Ayoola, and this is the third time Korede has had to come to the rescue of her little sister’s crimes in order to help her clean up and dispose of a dead body. Korede has always been protective of her little sister after a traumatic childhood with their father, but at this point she is beginning to question if the trail of bodies Ayoola has been leaving behind were really in self-defence or not. Being that she is implicated in the cover-up of these crimes, Korede keeps quiet, but when Ayoola strikes the interest of a doctor that Korede works with and has feelings for, their dynamic gets thrown for a new loop.
This book is short and sweet: it contains a darkly humorous and intriguing story that doesn’t give us a murder mystery to solve (we know Ayoola has killed the man at the beginning) so much as a playout of what comes after, holding the reader in suspense as to what decisions will be made and what the consequences of those choices will be. It also presents to us a picture of gender roles and expectations in Nigeria.
While the short nature works well with the period in these girls’ timeline that the story involves (plus the flashbacks giving us all the pertinent information we need), I personally would have like to see things beefed up a little in terms of Ayoola’s character. What we see is from her big sister’s perspective, which makes sense as to why it comes across as bratty and self-absorbed, and doesn’t really go into why exactly her sister chooses to kill these men (if, perhaps, it really isn’t self defense as she claims). But in Ayoola’s history there are some threads that could be seen as very informative of her choices, if only we are allowed to connect the dots a bit more: she learns from an early age about the cruelty of men, and in particular how sometimes what appears to be kindness is actually dangerous, such as the case of the chief who wanted to claim her as a young child. There is also a reason why she has no real friends, having a hard time letting people close to her while also relishing in attention from her “minions” and online following, suggesting that attention is how she finds a sense of worth as she has always known since she was a child, but not wanting to let closeness or letting her guard down put her in a dangerous position like it did with her father and his visitor who found so much interest in her. It’s all there, but I would have loved to have seen it explored more, to dig a little deeper beyond the superficial portrait Korede paints.
But then again, Korede is our narrator, and there is also a reason for that as well: we see the strength of her love and protection throughout their lives, and how her decisions have led her here. In the end, My Sister, the Serial Killer is about sisterhood, protecting those you love, and to be honest it’s very funny and suspenseful as choices are made and relationships take on new layers of meaning and irony. And it’s not a huge investment to jump into either, but definitely keeps the pages turning: in fact, I breezed through it in just one sitting!