Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: Young adult mystery
Blurb: 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.
What worked: I’m going to be honest…I picked this book up thinking I wasn’t going to like it. I saw book recommendations of TikTok and decided, why not? I’m so glad I did. I’m usually very meh about young adult fiction, but the author did such an amazing job here with making the age of the main character Pippa – AKA Pip – an essential element of the narrative. For her senior thesis project, Pip decides to solve a murder. That’s it. That’s the entire premise of the story. It’s simple and it’s powerful, especially because her investigation has the potential to clear the name of someone Pip believes to be innocent and perhaps even put the real killer or killers behind bars. There are two points of view in the story and they both follow Pip. The first POV is the third person past-tense narrative that most of the story is told in. But we also get a first-person narrative in Pip’s own voice, in the form of her case logs, where she keeps track of the progress of the case as it has developed so far. I honestly didn’t think this type of perspective-shifting would work, but Holly Jackson is an absolute master, and the two different perspectives of Pip add so much to this book instead of turning it into a confusing mess. Another thing that works in this story is the characterization. Especially of Pip and Ravi. The connection between Pip and Ravi is electric. It’s understated, but it feels so real that it feels like it could just step off the page and grab you. It’s the stuff that bookish magic is made from. And then there’s the investigation. Hands-down the best part of the book. You experience it right along with Pip. Holly Jackson includes the interview transcripts with the suspects, the email and text exchanges that Pip wades through, her thought process, a suspect list, maps, and timelines, etc., so that you feel like you not only have a front-row seat for what’s happening, but that you can actually help Pip solve the murder. That’s the whole point of a mystery novel but it’s hard to pull off. It’s done exceptionally well here, from start to finish.
What didn’t work: I honestly don’t think I had any complaints about this book. The pacing, structure, character development, plot, POV, etc. are all top-notch.
Who this book is for: folks who like mystery, full-stop. Yes, it’s young adult. No, you shouldn’t care, regardless of your own age group or what kind of mystery you like to read. This book is that good. Go and buy it.
Overall impressions: If you couldn’t tell already, I loved this book. I’m probably going to read everything in Holly Jackson’s backlist at some point soon.
Star rating: 10/10
Where to buy the book: