Pip Fitz-Amobi claims she is done. She is not a detective anymore. Pip is a high school student with a boyfriend and a podcast. The podcast just happens to be about the murder (technically, two murders) she solved last year. She’s finished. Done. Her sleuthing days are behind her.
That is until the older brother of one of her best friends goes missing. The police aren’t treating the disappearance of Jamie Reynolds as an urgent missing person’s case. He’s twenty-four years old and has a history of disappearing without contact for a few days. Despite Jamie’s recent moody behavior, his mother Joanna and younger brother Connor fear something awful has happened to him. Pip reluctantly begins investigating Jamie’s disappearance because she feels it is her duty to do so, despite the objections of her parents.
“It isn’t my job, but it feels like my responsibility,” she said cutting her mom off. “I know you’ll both have a thousand arguments why that’s not true, but I’m telling you the way it feels. It is my responsibility because I started something and I can’t now take it back. Whatever it did to me, to all of us, I still solved a double murder case last year. Now I have six hundred thousand subscribers who will listen to me and I’m in a position to use that, to help people. To help Jamie. That’s why I had no choice. I might not be the only one who can help, but I’m the only one here right now.”
In the first book of the series, “A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder,” Pip’s project served as a mechanism for her to not only document clues, but it was an effective tool that helped readers better decipher evidence in the story. In the sequel, “Good Girl, Bad Blood,” Pip utilizes her podcast to rehash clues. In addition to the podcast element, the story uses newspaper clippings, real photographs, sketches, transcripts of recorded interviews and text messages to help bring elements of realism to this fictional mystery.
Fans of the first novel will appreciate the storylines that carryover into the sequel, mainly the trial of Max Hastings. Pip believes that she and her boyfriend Ravi handed the police a significant amount of indisputable evidence proving that Max drugged and raped young women at the infamous calamity parties. Although Pip is gifted both intellectually and instinctively, she is naive about the justice system. Sometimes bad guys, especially those who have wealthy parents, go free.
“No,” she said through her hand. She would never be OK again. This was it; the worst thing that could have happened… the truth no longer mattered. Max Hastings, not guilty. Even though Pip had his voice on a recording, admitting to it all. Even though she knew he was guilty, beyond any doubt. But no, she and Nat da Silva and Becca Bell and those two women from college: they were the liars now. And a serial rapist had just walked free.
Truth and justice are prevalent themes in this book. Pip becomes enraged when Max Hastings is acquitted and she vandalizes his parents’ home while the family and their lawyer are out celebrating their legal victory. She also uploads the audio of Max Hastings admitting to drugging and raping Becca to her website and also shares it on social media. Pip knows he’s guilty and she needs everyone to know the truth: he is guilty.
Good and bad didn’t matter here. There were only winners. And Max only won if she let him. That was justice.
Although Pip gets some satisfaction when she delivers her own version of vigilante justice towards Max Hastings, the final outcome of another character seeking justice against someone who wronged his family devastates Pip. There is eerie foreshadowing when Pip is lamenting her frustration about Max to her neighbor Charlie.
“Oh, justice exists,” Charlie said, looking up at the rain. “Maybe not the kind that happens in police stations and courtrooms, but it does exist. And when you really think about it, those words—good and bad, right and wrong—they don’t really matter in the real world. Who gets to decide what they mean: those people who just got it wrong and let Max walk free? No…I think we all get to decide what good and bad and right and wrong mean to us…”
The author, Holly Jackson, excels in keeping the story moving and the reader guessing. The mysterious disappearance of Jamie Reynolds has our heroine Pip piecing together what could have possibly happened to him and interviewing some familiar characters, as well as, introducing the reader to new ones. Fans of “A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder” will love the sequel. “Good Girl, Bad Blood” is just as smart and captivating as the original.
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