The Washington Post Sunday

Two thrillers and a salute to ‘Baseball’s Golden Age’

- AUDIOBOOKS Katherine Powers reviews audiobooks every month for The Washington Post.

My Sister, the Serial Killer

Nigerian writer Oyinkan Braithwait­e’s first novel is set in Lagos, and, as its startling title suggests, it revolves around two sisters — one good, one not so much. Korede is an efficient, highly responsibl­e nurse. Ayoola is a freelance fashion designer and heartless seductress. Capricious, willful and without conscience, Ayoola has developed the unfortunat­e habit of killing her boyfriends — three as of the novel’s start. After each fatality, she has called upon her competent older sister, Korede, to help her dispose of the body. Refreshing­ly strange and ghoulishly funny at times, the story also has a tragic side, revealed in flashbacks depicting the brutality of the girls’ father. Back in the present, Korede is smitten with Tade, a doctor — but he has become enamored of Ayoola and establishe­s himself as her beau. Uh, oh. Narrator Adepero Oduye’s versatilit­y with characters’ voices and her wonderful adeptness with various forms and manners of Nigerian speech add verisimili­tude to this unusual story. (Random House Audio, Unabridged, 41/2 hours)

The Year of the Pitcher: Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, and the End of Baseball’s Golden Age

Sridhar Pappu’s “Year of the Pitcher” goes well beyond the achievemen­ts in 1968 of star hurlers Bob Gibson and Denny McLain. It was a year of assassinat­ions, riots, protests, presidenti­al campaigns and a World Series the Detroit Tigers miraculous­ly won after falling behind three games to one, while Gibson pitched three full games for the losing Cardinals. Pappu also covers the lives of the men who influenced the two athletes, Johnny Sain and Jackie Robinson among them. He explores, in depth, the racial intoleranc­e Gibson faced and McLain’s ties to organized crime. He also looks at the toll taken on both men’s arms, in an era innocent of pitch counts, and at the rising demand for players’ rights. This is a great book that combines biography, social history and astute character study. Narrating in a warm, lucid voice, Leon Nixon delivers the thrilling baseball action with all the brio it warrants. (Tantor, Unabridged, 13 hours)

Top Dog

Jens Lapidus’s “Top Dog” (translated from the Swedish by Alice Menzies) is not for the faint of heart. Emelie Jannson, a young lawyer, takes on the case of the victim of a circle of wealthy sexual predators. She is assisted by Teddy Maksumic, recently out of prison and trying to cut his links to Stockholm’s Serbian criminal underworld. Teddy’s nephew Nikola attempts the same thing until his best friend is murdered by a crime boss’s hit men. Then Nikola devotes himself to revenge. Meanwhile, Roksana, daughter of a refugee Iranian family, and her pal Z discover a stash of ketamine behind a false wall and soon find themselves terrorized by a drug lord’s goons. Increasing­ly, the three story lines merge. The suspense is terrific, and narrator Jon Lindstrom delivers the action clearly and calmly. He manages the welter of voices, keeping one separate from the other, and beautifull­y captures the irony that underpins much of the story. (Random House Audio, Unabridged, 181/3 hours)

“Top Dog” isn’t for the queasy. “My Sister” is the writer’s first novel.

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