Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

A Good Girls Guide To Murder

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is a twisty mystery/thriller by debut novelist Holly Jackson. This instant number one bestseller introduces us to Pippa Fitz-Amobi, a high school senior examining a five-year old murder-suicide case for her senior project.

From the publisher:

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.

This is the story of an investigation turned obsession, full of twists and turns and with an ending you’ll never expect.

I really enjoyed A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. Holly Jackson made several key choices in constructing the book which I think helped make it the runaway success it has become.

Setting a murder mystery in a high school setting can be challenging. Jackson uses an open-and-shut case from years ago to allow Pip and Ravi to investigate without interfering with the police investigation. This also allows them to talk with other suspects and family members of the victims long enough after those events that some emotional healing has occurred.

Another choice Jackson makes in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is to mix traditional third person narration told from Pip’s POV with journal entries. Pip’s research and investigation is for her senior capstone project, which requires regular updates to her journal. This allows readers to see exactly what Pip is thinking as the investigation proceeds. It gives the book a greater sense of immediacy than simply using third person POV would have provided.

The more people Pip questions and the more questions she asks, the more she puts herself in danger from an unknown threat warning her off the case. The investigation turns very personal for Pip, ratcheting up the tension.

Although A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder just released in the United States, the sequel, Good Girl, Bad Blood is already out in Jackon’s native United Kingdom. There’s no U.S. release date as of right now, I suspect we’ll have to wait until 2021 to find out what’s in store for Pip.

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