“Sass all over the page” – My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Take a can of drink and shake it and shake it and shake it and then yank the ring pull. You’d expect froth and fizz everywhere but what you get is sass. Sass all over the page. That is what Oyinkan Braithwaite’s debut, My Sister, the Serial Killer reads like. Sass. All over the page.

“Ayoola summons me,” the book begins.

“Korede, I killed him.

I had hoped I would never hear those words again.”

Ayoola is Korede’s beautiful young sister and she’s killed twice before, boyfriends both. Korede didn’t really like the previous boyfriends, believed Ayoola when she said they’d more or less brought it on themselves. This time, though, with Femi – well, Korede is starting to have her doubts about Ayoola. Like maybe Ayoola likes killing. And lots of people liked Femi. There is an online community busy sharing his poems and demanding justice. Korede sympathises and does her best to steer Ayoola right (Ayoola who thinks she’s ‘grieved’ long enough and should be able to get back to posting pictures of herself on Instagram). Korede works in a hospital and has a crush on Tade, one of the doctors. She also uses Muhtar Yautai, the comatose patient in Room 313 as her confessor, telling him everything about her sister, the murders, her complicity in dumping the bodies and maintaining the cover-up.

Now, with all of those ingredients in place, all you need to do is have Ayoola wander into the hospital ostensibly to invite Korede out for lunch and – oh yes, that’s right, find herself introduced to a certain doctor who then becomes smitten with her (taking all of Korede’s subtle and then less than subtle advice with a pinch and then a packet of salt) – and have a certain comatose patient wake up with all of those confessional conversations fresh in his mind, and you’re set for the juiciest of comedies, played out across a barrage of shorter than short chapters all of which help to make the book a vibrant and dynamic race to the finish.

Much of My Sister, the Serial Killer plays out like a particularly dark episode of Nurse Jackie. Albeit Nurse Jackie refracted via Jamie Kelly’s comic, Lady Killer. Braithwaite is really strong on dialogue and the comedic value that can be wrung out of exchanges between people who aren’t as clued up as either the reader or Korede is surprisingly high. If you’ve read and enjoyed Vivek Shanbhag’s book, Ghachar Ghochar (which we still can’t recommend enough), or you dabbled with either the TV show or the book of Killing Eve, we think you’ll get a kick out of this.

Any Cop?: Simply splendid fun, the kind of book that will have you laughing out loud and thrilling at its audacity.

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