Sunday, February 18, 2024

REVIEW: A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (book) by Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is YA mystery. I bought my copy new.


Five years ago, pretty and popular high school senior Andie Bell disappeared. A short while later, his alibi in tatters, Sal Singh, her boyfriend, confessed to killing her and then killed himself. Although it was never proven in a court of law, everyone in town accepted that Sal was the murderer.

Everyone except Pip. Now that she's a high school senior herself, Pip plans to use her senior capstone project to investigate the truth behind Andie's disappearance and apparent murder. The Sal she knew was a nice guy - she's never been able to accept that he might have killed his girlfriend, and it's always bothered her that the entire town so readily accepted this narrative. She convinces Ravi, Sal's brother, to help her, and the two of them begin picking at the various threads of the original investigation, trying to find things that the police missed. 

A star student hoping to get into a good college almost certainly wouldn't have picked a senior capstone project with a high probability of getting disqualified (Pip was told flat out that any ethical violations would get her disqualified). But the author needed a reason why Pip would be able to devote this much time and effort to a single thing - if you can accept that, the investigation in general was pretty interesting. I enjoyed the way Pip dug into her topic and tried to find various holes or inconsistencies. At least until the end, the way everything was laid out (including things like Pip's map, her attempts at a timeline, etc.) made it feel like readers could follow along and try to solve the mystery with her.

Pip was so focused on her investigation that it was, unfortunately, easy to forget that she had family or friends. Anytime any of them had on-page appearances, it was a bit of a surprise. I had particular difficulty remembering the names of Pip's friends. Maybe that's part of the reason why Pip herself never really grew on me as a character. I enjoyed her investigation, while she was just the way that investigation was communicated to readers.

And about that investigation...for someone who was supposedly so smart, Pip made some truly boneheaded decisions at times. The ones that stuck out to me the most were the ones that literally put her in danger. I get that she wanted more information than the police would likely give her later on, but confronting a likely murderer all on her own was really, really stupid, especially considering that her investigation had already led to more death.

While I generally liked this book, I haven't decided yet whether I'll continue on with the series. As far as I'm concerned, this book works fine as a standalone.

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