Title: Two Can Keep A Secret
Author: Karen M. McManus
Genre: YA, Mystery
Published: January 8th, 2019 (Delacorte Press)
Synopsis: Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.
The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.
Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.
First new release of the year on my list, and it feels so good to get back to the mystery genre after all this time! I basically grew up on a diet of Enid Blyton novels and later, Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. And while I still pick up those once in a while, just to refresh my memory, I’ve had a really hard time finding an author who writes the mystery genre for YA – until I came across McManus’ first novel, One of Us is Lying. I liked this one even better, especially since it kept me guessing a lot longer!
Twins Ellery and Ezra have been sent to live with their grandmother in the small town of Echo Ridge. Ellery, who is fond of mysteries, is eager to learn more about the mysteries hanging over Echo Ridge where someone has targeted homecoming twice in the past, one of them Ellery’s own aunt, who has been missing ever since. With mysterious messages once again appearing around town, clearly threatening the girls in running for homecoming queen, the mood grows tense. History repeats itself and the disappearance of another girl causes the finger of suspicion to point right at Ellery’s new friend Malcolm, whose older brother was considered the prime suspect in the murder case five years ago.
Ellery is certain that Malcolm is being framed, and is determined to find the real culprit. But Echo Ridge is a town of secrets, and it’s easier said than done to get any useful information. Everyone seems to be hiding something, even her own family, and in a small town like Echo Ridge where everyone knows everyone’s business, Ellery begins to learn that some secrets are best left unspoken.
I really appreciated the aura of mystery and intrigue that McManus built up and maintained right until the end of the story. There were two POVs in this novel, which is not my favourite way to read mysteries, as it reduces the tension and makes it easier as a reader to figure things out. That said, it was well balanced and did a good job of not giving away too much. I would give this four stars just for the last line alone!
Regarding characters, Karen McManus has created a great cast, but beyond Ellery and Malcolm, few of them get any real focus or development. Ezra, especially deserved more screen time in my opinion. There was a lot of backstory to this novel, and I really liked that the information about various incidents come from different people in bits and pieces, adding more layers to the mystery with each one that is resolved.
Unlike many mysteries I’ve read in the past, this is not easy to guess until perhaps very close to the end. There simply aren’t enough breadcrumbs for the reader to figure it out. I really enjoyed coming up with my own theories as the plot unfolded (even if they were mostly wrong). This is a fast-paced, interesting novel that can easily be finished in one sitting and I would highly recommend this for mystery fans. All in all, Two Can Keep A Secret is a fine mystery to start off the year with!