MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite

July 31, 2019

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From the publisher:


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.

If you are in the mood for a dark, twisted, super fun read then this is your book! My son actually recommended it to me, which doesn’t happen often (it’s usually the other way around.) So I had it in my to-be-read pile for a while, waiting for the mood to strike. Then I got an email from the publisher, asking if I would cover the paperback release and that was the impetus for me to finally sit down and read this.

It is a very fast read as it is a very short book. Don’t let that dissuade you, though, it is an excellent debut, full of great characters and a nuanced plot. It was rather shocking to me that this was a debut, you usually don’t see such tight plotting in a first novel. I love the way it was written, sort of report like, and the deft touch of black comedy really sings. At times it is a bit gruesome but never gratuitously so, especially considering the title and subject matter.

My son read this for a book discussion, which I thought was a pretty smart choice, it is an unusual pick for sure but there is definitely material to be discussed here. I often read books this short and complain about holes in the plot or lack of character development, so I am delighted to say that this is one of the best debuts I’ve read in a while. Grab the paperback or Kindle or listen to it on Audible, but don’t miss it. It has been optioned for a film by a London production company and I read this in Deadline: “The debut novel of Nigerian writer Oyinkan Braithwaite follows a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has an inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.” An inconvenient habit, indeed.

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Anchor; Reprint edition (July 30, 2019).  ISBN 978-0525564201.  240p.



SAVING SOPHIE by Ronald H. Balson

March 5, 2016
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This is the follow up to Once We Were Brothers, a hugely popular by word-of-mouth book that was originally self published, then picked up by St. Martins. Ron Balson is a practicing attorney in Chicago so writing novels is his second career, and he’s quite good at it.

The two protagonists from Once We Were Brothers, private investigator Liam and attorney Catherine, return here and move between Chicago and the Middle East. The story opens with the theft of 88 million dollars and a man on the run, and we don’t know anything at all about the whys or hows of it. And then we learn…

The titled “Sophie” is a young girl who has been kidnapped by her maternal grandfather and taken to his fortress of a home in Palestine.

Sophie’s father, Jack Sommers, is heartbroken. His wife had died and when his in-laws sued for custody, trying to prove he was an unfit father, they lost their case. But Jack felt bad about cutting off his daughter from her grandparents, so he suggested visitation once a month. On their third visit, they disappeared with Sophie.

Jack is a lawyer and he manages to embezzle money in hopes of paying ransom and getting his daughter back. He disappears, but his partners in crime end up dead and there is still no sign of anyone getting Sophie back to him. Liam and Catherine are hired to find the money and Jack Sommers, and in the process agree to try and help Jack get his daughter back.

The story moves to the Middle East and Balson does a phenomenal job of interspersing the history of Zionism, the state of Israel and all the fighting in the Middle East going back to biblical times, creating a fascinating back drop to the present day story.

Turns out grandpa is from a long line of terrorists, and is in the middle of planning a September 11th size attack using biological warfare, creating a terrifying culmination to the story.

This is another exciting thriller from a terrific storyteller.

3/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SAVING SOPHIE by Ronald H. Balson. St. Martin’s Griffin (September 15, 2015).  ISBN 978-1250065858. 448p.