A Good Girls Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson (Review)

But sometimes remembering isn’t for yourself, sometimes you do it just to make someone else smile. Those lies were allowed.

I picked this one up in Waterstones a while ago, and it probably would still be languishing on my shelves with WAY too many of my other books (I’m sorry, books, I’m SORRY) if one of the girls at work hadn’t picked it up after I gently encouraged her to read One of Us is Lying. I ended up reading it along with her and a few other people, starting an impromptu buddy read/book club tradition, and I’m SO glad we picked it up.

Rating: 4.5 stars!

Read me for the:

  • Unique format
  • Mind-melting closed case mystery
  • Teenage investigator in way over her head
  • Addictive whodunnit plot
  • Genuinely good twist

The plot:

Pip is doing her final year EPQ. A chance to do choose your own topic and do independent research, an EPQ is the perfect opportunity to prepare for university! It’s also, according to Pip, the perfect opportunity to catch a killer who has literally already gotten away with murder. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh. Sal hung himself in the woods afterwards, consumed with grief. The police know it, the town knows it. But Pip? She isn’t so sure. As she researches, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town is desperate to keep hidden. If the real killer is out there, what will they be willing to do to silence Pip?

What did I think?

When I first started reading this, I was thrown off by the EPQ style format. By about three chapters in, I loved it. Holly Jackson nailed the balance of EPQ-style with actual narrative prose, so we were still getting information conventionally but the EPQ aspect of the novel really made me feel involved as a reader. Because of the way Pip’s notes were addressed, it felt like she was talking to the reader and explaining everything that she’d found. It also meant that I kept accidentally rinsing through chapters I was supposed to be waiting for the book club to read, because I’d blink and I’d read five chapters. I felt like I was a part of the investigation, and I think that made me even more involved in hunting for and putting together clues than I usually am.

I loved Pip as our MC. She’s a clever character, but not excessively so. I never had one of those moments of ‘yeah sure, as if’ when she connected some dots or came up with a new plan. Everything she did felt like the reasonable response of a highly logical character piecing things together. I think that’s pretty important in this type of story, because there’s nothing more irritating than a character who has all the answers even if it doesn’t make sense. She was part of a dynamic duo with Ravi, and I don’t want to delve too deeply into Ravi’s character because spoilers, but he’s Sal’s disgraced brother who always believed his big brother was innocent. And. I. Love. Him. He’s kind of the sweetest, and the whole way through I was swearing that if he turned out bad I was going to revolt. Every time he called Pip Sarge or trouble, a baby unicorn was born.

As for the clues to solving this mystery? I missed a lot of them. I thought I was being hyper-obsessive with this book, and while we were reading it there were a lot of incredibly wild, conspiracy-level theories about who had killed Andie and Sal, up to and including Andie herself. We basically didn’t stop throwing ideas around and I’m not sure that we got any of the facts right in our final version. Our investigative incompetence was as impressive as Pip’s intelligence. By the time I got three quarters of the way into this book, I was practically crawling up the walls because I needed to know the answers so badly and I had a lot of possible leads and no answers. I might have worked some things out if I hadn’t been Christmas-exhausted, but really? I had no idea.

That alone makes this book a must-read for anyone who likes YA crime/mystery. I usually guess who was responsible or why pretty early in a book. I’m obsessive, so I pick up on tiny details and extrapolate them out into an answer. I did fucking not get to the right answer here. And I love that. Holly Jackson didn’t hide the clues, they were right there the whole time, it was just a matter of eliminating the right information. I didn’t feel at any point that any of the facts had been ‘hidden’ from us for a big reveal. Instead, I felt like this book managed a very well-earned rug pull at the end when I found out the truth, after a few chapters that had absolutely no chill. If anyone could put this book down and walk away after approximately chapter 45, I want to borrow their self-control. It was a roller-coaster to the end, and I didn’t want to get off until I knew everything.

I wasn’t a huge fan of the epilogue. It was nice to see aspects of it, and without spoiling anything there was one thing I really wanted to see that the epilogue gave us, but after how fast paced and exciting the last few chapters were, the epilogue almost felt tacked on as an after thought. I didn’t have a problem with it, as such, I just didn’t connect to it at all. That being said, this was an incredible novel from start to end, epilogue included, and I can’t wait for the sequel to arrive in April so I can get more of Pip (and hopefully more of Ravi).

Links:

Add it on Goodreads here!

Buy at Waterstones or Amazon (not affiliated) and if you can, please support your local indie booksellers!

Pre-order the sequel, Good Girl, Bad Blood here if you’ve already read A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder!

2 thoughts on “A Good Girls Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson (Review)

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