A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is a murder mystery thriller that will keep you guessing until the end. Five years ago, the small town of Fairview was upended when pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh, who then killed himself. Pip knows the story. Everyone in the town does. Pip just can’t shake the feeling that something isn’t right and she feels that the truth that everyone has accepted may not be exactly what happened. Now that she’s a senior herself, Pip decides to reexamine the case for her final project. Pip’s investigation quickly turns to obsession and takes her deep into the town’s dark secrets. When she starts receiving threats, it is clear that someone in Fairview doesn’t want Pip to discover the truth about that fateful night.
This book is a roller coaster ride from beginning to end. It has a fast-paced plot and heart throbbing excitement. Our heroine, Pippa Fitz-Amobi, is smart, brave, funny, social, kind and talented. Put Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars in a blender and out will pour Pip. Pip is a consummate overachiever, but as a reader you are always rooting for her. Her drive is the vehicle that moves the plot along. You’ll definitely want to hop in and take the ride.
In order for any whodunnit to be successful, the plot has to give you enough breadcrumbs to lead you along, but never enough to totally fill you up. With “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” the clues trickle out, but the pace moves so quickly that the reader doesn’t have time to overthink or dwell in minutia because you are trying to keep up with the action. Pip is clever and fearless. Since the investigation coincides with Pip’s final project (called a Capstone Project), the reader gets to read through her notes, keeping the engagement level high and direct. As the list of suspects lengthens and she finds more clues, she begins receiving threats. Shaken, but undeterred, Pip won’t stop investigating.
“A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” is a page-turner that gets quickly devoured. It’s also Holly Jackson’s debut novel. Jackson has successfully crafted a tense and ultimately satisfying mystery. It’s full or twists and turns. The ending lands just right, leaving the reader gratified and fulfilled, but also wanting more. Fortunately for the reader, there are currently two more books in the series, Good Girl, Bad Blood and As Good As Dead.
Although “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” is classified as a YA (young adult) novel, I would recommend it to anyone aged sixteen and up who enjoys a good murder mystery. Trigger warnings include: drug use, underage drinking, bullying, sexual assault, animal death, suicide, and racism. Each of these mature themes is dealt with in a carefully crafted manner. None of it feels overly gratuitous, but instead adds to the action and atmosphere of the novel.
Pick up “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” today and go along with Pip as she solves, or rather “unsolves,” the murder of Andie Bell. The suspense will keep you riveted and guessing until the very end. Bravo and thank you to Holly Jackson for delivering such a brilliant debut novel.
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