Book Review: A Good Girl’s Guide
to Murder – Holly Jackson
Blogmas Day 11
Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Series: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #1
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: YA, Mystery
Published: February 4th, 2020 (Delacorte Press)
Synopsis: Everyone in Fairview knows the story.
Pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. It was all anyone could talk about. And five years later, Pip sees how the tragedy still haunts her town.
But she can’t shake the feeling that there was more to what happened that day. She knew Sal when she was a child, and he was always so kind to her. How could he possibly have been a killer?
Now a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the closed case for her final project, at first just to cast doubt on the original investigation. But soon she discovers a trail of dark secrets that might actually prove Sal innocent…and the line between past and present begins to blur. Someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip digging around for answers, and now her own life might be in danger.
This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.
For her senior year project, Pippa Fitz-Amobi decides to reinvestigate a closed murder case that happened in her own town. Five years ago, 17 year old Andie Bell went missing, and was presumed murdered by her boyfriend Sal. Pip has always felt that there was more to the story, and she decides to find out, using her project as a convenient cover, what really happened to Andie that night, and if Sal was really guilty. But her investigation takes a turn as she begins to notice several inconsistencies in the official narrative, stumbling onto some dark secrets and it quickly becomes clear that someone in town doesn’t want Pip to go digging into the past – and they’re willing to go to any extent to stop her.
Now that I’ve finally gotten around to reading this book, I have to say, I definitely see what all the fuss is about! The pacing and narration is highly reminiscent of the Nancy Drew novels, in the sense that while it wasn’t completely action packed but more sequences of the characters trying to reason out the chain of events and motives of potential suspects. It is, in my opinion, the kind of mystery you can sit back and enjoy rather than being completely overwhelmed by reveal upon reveal with no time to breathe – it gave me as a reader time to do some thinking on my own too, and it was a proper whodunnit mystery, which is my favourite kind.
I like how the investigation was presented from different perspectives as the narrative alternates between diary pages, Pip’s written updates on her findings, interview recordings, emails and of course, her actual sleuthing which was the best part. It makes for a very interesting read and feels like you’re solving the mystery right alongside Pip. Pip was a great character, intelligent and level-headed, and one who was easy to root for, and it was fun watching her work with Sal’s brother Ravi to prove his innocence and discover the truth. There are no end of twists and turns in this story, and while some are predictable, most are not, and I didn’t start to put together the pieces until the very end. I loved that even after everything seemed to be said and done, there was still one more twist left to end the story with a bang.
So where did one star drop off? From a realistic perspective, the inconsistencies in the original investigation started becoming obvious within the first few chapters, and it’s hard to believe that the police wouldn’t have noticed any of it. It also strains credibility the lengths to which Pippa has no trouble going for a school paper, from blackmailing drug dealers, breaking into houses and more. As carefully constructed as the rest of the book was, the ending felt a little rushed for my taste as Pip runs off to confront the murderer without any backup, and on top of that letting her guard down there, which was a rather stupid thing to do. Also…did they really have to do that to the dog? I hate it when pets are hurt in books, even more than actual characters. Dog aside though, what really troubled me was how Pip was willing to set aside and ignore some major discoveries she had made just not to get her friends in trouble – she does realize it’s a murder she’s investigating right?
You definitely need to suspend some level of disbelief with this book, but overall, it was an enjoyable read. I can’t wait to read the sequel and it’s probably the ARC I’m most excited about being approved for this winter. It looks like each story in this series is likely going to be a standalone for the most part, which I’m glad for, since I feel that the best mysteries wrap up in a single book where the tension and anticipation can be maintained as it was in this one. With how well written and riveting this book is, it’s hard to believe this is the author’s debut, and I’m looking forward to reading more books by her in the future. A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder would be a great choice for YA readers and mystery fans alike. Highly recommended!
Have you read this book? Let me know in the comments below!
Other reviews in this series: