While everyone was being merry during Christmas and joyfully ringing in the New Year, I was reading two books about the family members of serial killers. Go figure. The first, In Her Bones by Kate Moretti knocked my socks off. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at a literary festival in Westport in October and I couldn’t wait to open my signed copy. Riveting, disturbing and complex, this book is everything a thriller should be and so much more. The story centers on Edie Beckett whose mother, Lilith Wade, is an infamous serial killer who was sentenced to life in prison when Edie was a young child. Now an adult, Edie is a recovering alcoholic and is having trouble figuring out how to navigate the world. She works in an uninspiring job, is obsessed with stalking the surviving family of her mother’s victims, and doesn't know how be in a healthy relationship. Despite her challenges, she’s surviving okay until a man she has slept with is found dead the next morning in his bed—and he happens to be the husband of one of her mother’s victims. The roller coaster ride begins at this point and doesn’t slow down for s second. The story is so believable, and the excerpts from the unauthorized biography of Lilith Wade are so well written that I found myself wondering if it was a true story, googling Lilith Wade several times and coming up empty. Beyond the crime story, the novel is also a fascinating psychological profile about how crime affects and damages not only the perpetrators and victims, but everyone in their spheres. If there were more than five stars, I would award them to this book without hesitation.
Less than a week later, I chose My Sister, the Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite on audio mostly because the cover is totally eye-catching and the audiobook less than four hours long. Coincidentally, this one is also about the family member of a serial killer. The main character is Korede, a nurse at a hospital in Lagos, Nigeria who has an unfortunate side job—cleaning up the aftermath when her younger sister murders her boyfriends. When the novel opens, Ayoola has just killed another one and Korede, who will do anything to protect her baby sister, is called to come in with the cleaning supplies. Korede knows her sister is sick, but she is unable to report the crimes for fear of the retribution against her sister. The story takes a sinister turn when Ayoola begins dating Tade, the handsome doctor Korede has harbored a secret crush on for some time. As Tade becomes ensnared in Ayoola’s web, Korede is forced to make a choice between her sister and the man she loves. This novel is short, but packs a strong punch and the tone is sharp, sarcastic and strangely funny. Definitely pick this one up if you’re in the mood for something a little bit different and off the beaten track.