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Crime Fiction Chart-Toppers

My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite

Published in 2018, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s dark comedy continues to dominate bestseller lists in 2020. Shocking, gruesome and fiercely funny, My Sister, the Serial Killer is a breath of fresh air for crime fiction fans.

When we imagine a serial killer, as depicted so often on television, in books or on the big screen, it is usually an isolated, introverted figure and almost always a man. Braithwaite’s novel pushes the boundaries of this genre. Not only is the serial killer, Ayoola, a woman, but she’s young and beautiful with a hoard of adoring followers on social media. Yet behind closed doors, she has murdered three boyfriends.

The focus is not on figuring out the identity of the killer, or even seeking justice for the victims. Instead, the novel is centred on Ayoola and her sister Korede as they try to cover up Ayoola’s latest murder and get away with it.

Having shielded her sister from their oppressive father, Korede is the archetypal older sister: painstakingly loyal and willing to do anything to protect Ayoola. But, when Ayoola falls for Korede’s long term crush, Tade, their relationship is tested. Korede must ask herself if she’s willing to risk losing the man she loves to her sister’s homicidal tendencies.

Braithwaite uses short, fast-paced chapters that leave the reader wanting more. We are quickly drawn into Korede’s complicated world, and the dark moments of violence are interspersed with deathly funny remarks from the two sisters.

Provocative, humorous and at times disturbing, this novel sets a new precedent for modern crime fiction stories.

Fifty Fifty by Steve Cavanagh

Two 911 calls from two sisters, each accusing the other of the same crime: brutally murdering their father. Fifty Fifty is the newest instalment of Steve Cavanagh’s Eddie Flynn series, but can easily be read as a stand-alone story. We follow lawyer Eddie as he attempts to work out who is guilty: Alexandra, the put-together socialite, or Sophia, a recovering addict with a history of mental health problems. Their youth is shrouded in mystery and cover-ups, as the details of previous tragic family deaths come to light. Eddie only represents those who he believes are truly innocent, and so when he takes Sophia as a client, he is convinced he has chosen the correct sister. His opposition lawyer, Kate, believes the exact same.

The story details the entire case from the night of the murder to conviction and the aftermath, splitting the narrative between the key characters which ensures a balanced perspective on the case throughout from both legal teams. This book manages to keep the pendulum swinging back and forth until the final pages, making it impossible to tell who the real murderer is. The most anticipated chapters come from the murderer herself, ambiguously titled ‘She’. ‘She’ makes references that connect both sisters to the undetermined narrative voice; just when you think you have decided which sister it is, the switch is flipped once again.

This book definitely comes with a trigger warning as there are multiple gruesome and violent deaths, along with references to self-harm and suicide. Nonetheless, a gripping and well-orchestrated book that keeps you guessing.

Deadly Cry by Angela Marsons

Whenever I finish an Angela Marsons novel, I’m left a little sad because I can’t bear to wait until the next one! I love this entire series and every time a new one comes out it’s just as gripping, emotional and unique as always.

What Marsons does well is connect with the reader through her characters. With some of the team going through personal issues, whether that’s loss or celebration, there’s a lot to unpack, especially with the return of my new favourite behaviourist, Alison.

This plot will immediately have you hooked. I like how Marsons inserts snippets of the perspective of the murderer – it’s always something intriguing or horrifying and it’s more than enough to make anyone want to carry on reading! There’s a reason why these books do so well every time a new one comes out, and it’s due to her fast-paced writing and well thought out plots. With Kim Stone’s signature blend of stubbornness and determination, there was never any doubt she would catch this sinister killer but, as always, it is a matter of exactly who they are.

I’ve always found the writer’s plots impossible to predict and it’s one of the reasons why I keep coming back to this series. At one point during this book I was feeling rather proud, believing I’d sussed out the killer. And yet, of course, I should have trusted that Marsons had something shocking up her sleeve. With a twist that was truly surprising, this book will have your attention until the very last page – and on that last page, you’ll find yourself just a tiny bit emotional.

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