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My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite – a review

sister

My latest read has been My Sister, The Serial Killer. No this is is not autobiographical (Well as far as I know, bearing in mind the Sister lives with our parent’s and they are both very much alive and fighting fit so I assume if she had murderous tendencies the patio area might have been much extended by now!)
My Sister the Serial Killer is actually the debut novel by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Set in Nigeria, it tells the story of Korede, the elder sister of Ayoola. The sisters are very close. So much so that Ayoola can ring Korede any time of the day or night knowing that she will drop everything to help her. Even when that help involves bleach, rubber gloves and the ability to move a body, for the third time.
I picked this novel up on a whim whilst browsing Waterstones, at the time I hadn’t realised that Oyinkan was appearing at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival next weekend. Well once I started reading I couldn’t stop and I read this pretty much over two nights.
My Sister, the Serial Killer was a really engaging novel. This wasn’t a long book, and had it been formatted like a normal book I imagine it would have been very small but that was part of the charm. It felt like quite a simple story, yet for some reason it is one that really gets under your skin. It is a slow story that is hard to explain, as it feels like nothing happens, yet it also includes murder galore.
The sisters are two very different people. One is glamourous and exciting, the other is rather dowdy and dull yet they are bound together by a bond that only siblings will understand. I found the interaction between the two sisters interesting. There were moments where you just want to give Korede a good talking too and make her stop enabling her sister’s murderous ways. Yet equally you feel for her as she is trying to make the best of a situation that she didn’t create but is stuck in. This is mainly a story about relationships rather than murder. The writing is full of short quick sentences and the rather macabre topic is lifted by the deadpan humour of Korede.
I would highly recommend My Sister, the Serial Killer for a quick engaging read and I am very much looking forward to hearing Oyinkan speak next week.

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You by Caroline Kepnes – a review

One of the best things about the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime writing festival is the amount of books by new authors that are given out. One of the treasures in the goody bag this year was You by Caroline Kepnes the paperback of which is released in October (I can’t deny there is something very exciting about being able to read a book that isn’t yet available to the general public)

As the title page states this is a novel of dark obsession. Joe works in a small independent bookshop in New York. He started working there as a child for the mysterious now absent Mr Malooney. Joe meets Beck, an aspiring writer living in a bed sit who makes the mistake of walking into Joe’s bookshop and requesting a book by his favourite author.

Taking this as a sign that they are destined to be together he becomes obsessed with her, and believing that she also likes him he starts stalking her. He tracks down her friends and uses the wonders of the internet to follow her every move, even going so far as to remove anyone he thinks might get in their way.

I thought this was a fantastic story. It is all told from the viewpoint of Joe, which gives the whole thing a creepy edge. Whilst I wouldn’t go so far as to say I understand him, you can see how he interprets things to fit in with his own warped sense of relationships.

This book reminded me of the Dexter novels, where you know that you shouldn’t really like the character but actually I did feel a bit sorry for him. Beck rather than just being portrayed as an weak little victim is a manipulative unpleasant woman. I couldn’t warm to any of the other characters in the book either, but that’s obviously how it’s meant to be as you only know anything from Joe’s point of view and he clearly dislikes anyone who gets in his way.

I liked the way that although there are crimes committed in addition to the stalking, these are almost glossed over. To Joe these were just necessary actions to further his main goal and if you skim read fast enough you’d almost miss them.

Overall I thought this was a great book that I couldn’t put down and would recommend it to anyone who likes crime but fancies a bit of light relief.

 

 

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