10) My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
Well this was quite a gear-change from anything else this year. I described it to my wife Katie as like a Netflix crime series spliced up for the millennial generation and repackaged into chapters. It is dark, darkly funny, funnily disturbing and disturbingly dark; not necessarily in that order.
As the book’s title might suggest, it is about Korede and her sister Ayoola who is, yes, a serial killer. They live in Lagos, and Ayoola has a penchant for moving from man to man and then, when the moment or emotion takes her, stabbing them to death. Korede, being a nurse at the local hospital, gets a call to come and clean up and help dispose of the body (this is how the novel begins, so no spoilers…).
The tension ratchets up as Ayoola gets interested in a man that Korede also likes, and we can see where that is going to head. There’s also a nice if slightly weird sub-plot about a guy in a coma who is the only person she can talk to about what her sister has done / is doing. And there’s a less convincing back story about their violent father and how the violence and psychopathy might have been passed down the family.
Nevertheless, for all the jerky plot gymnastics and occasionally paper-thin characters, it’s great fun and highly entertaining – I rattled through it in a couple of afternoons, and enjoyed. It won’t be the finest piece of literature I read this year, nor even one of the best crime novels. And it doesn’t quite deliver on the promise of the title nor the early chapters, but it has a boldness and audacity which I really liked. And I’d be amazed if it isn’t, well, a Netflix film or series some time soon.