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The title of this diminutive thriller from Nigerian author Oyinkan Braithwaite ― My Sister, the Serial Killer ― is such a blunt description of its subject that it sounds like it should contain the tear-soaked memoirs of a Wuornos sibling. No artful novelistic elision here! The book continues in this straightforward way, laying out its story in clear, precise terms.

But what a murky, unsettling story. Ayoola is a spoiled but gorgeous young woman who immediately turns the head of any man who encounters her. She also keeps ending up with dead boyfriends on her hands. As the novel opens, she’s just killed a third boyfriend, and her responsible older sister, Korede, has been summoned to clean up the crime scene ― not for the first time. Korede, who narrates the book, accepts Ayoola’s flimsy excuse of having been attacked, just as she did the first two times. Then her irresistible little sister sets her eyes on a new romantic target: Korede’s longtime crush, a handsome doctor. As Korede wrestles with which of her beloveds to protect, a police investigation into the disappearance of Femi, the third dead boyfriend, hovers threateningly over her.

Korede’s and Ayoola’s motivations, at least their true ones, are more hinted at than explored, so diagnosing their troubled impulses, and the powerful bond holding them together, is part of the fun. Also, it’s a taut, rapidly paced thriller that pleasurably subverts serial killer and sisterhood tropes for a guaranteed fun afternoon. ― Claire Fallon

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