A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson | Book Review

We are officially in the month of October, meaning now is the perfect time to binge watch horror movies, tour some haunted houses and start planning this year’s Halloween costumes. I’ll be away at university during Halloween, so I’ll definitely be attending— but as what is the real question.

To get me into the mood of the season of pumpkins and jack-a-lanterns, I have set my tbr (yes, I have a set tbr for this month— shocking!) to match the mood of the season up ahead.

First on the list was ‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’ by Holly Jackson, and I am pleased to say that this was everything I needed to start the spooky season right.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

by Holly Jackson

Book Cover

Goodreads blurb:

For readers of Kara Thomas and Karen McManus, an addictive, twisty crime thriller with shades of Serial and Making a Murderer about a closed local murder case that doesn’t add up, and a girl who’s determined to find the real killer–but not everyone wants her meddling in the past.

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.

‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’ by Holly Jackson follows Pip as she re-investigates her town’s infamous closed murder case involving a popular student, Andie Bell, who went missing and was then found murdered. Andie’s boyfriend at the time, Sal, was found guilty for her murder– case closed. However, while the rest of the town seems to have moved on from the case years later; Pip is still haunted by the tragedy and believes that there is more to the story. Secrets are exposed, lies are uncovered, but will it be enough to find who the real killer is?

First of all, I cannot count the number of times that this book has been recommended to me by my own friends, as well as friends that I have met online. I was kind of hesitant to read this as Young Adult (YA) mystery and thrillers aren’t generally my cup of tea– I prefer darker, psychological thrillers. That being said I could not ignore the countless of recommendations, so I decided to listen to other people’s demands and purchase my own copy of the book.

And I am so, so glad that I did.

This was is arguable a top-tier Young Adult (YA) mystery novel. It was so well-written from start to finish that I had trouble putting this book down. First, I want to talk about the illustrations and the somewhat unique format that this book incorporates into the writing. I love how there are some pages that look like a transcript, and some pages that look like they were scribbled on and photocopied into the book. It just adds enhances the reading experience, and makes readers feel like they are peeking into our main character’s brain. There were times where Pip was kind of circling back to the same point, and her “conclusions” were kind of questionable, but it works with her character because she’s not a trained detective nor does she have any professional skills– she’s a regular teenager. But unlike most teenagers, I really liked how driven she was to solve this case, despite the numerous set-backs she had to endure.

Let’s talk about some of the characters. Pip is a great character, so willing to go to great lengths to do what she thinks is right. Obviously, re-opening a closed murder case is quite controversial, and I’m glad that there were moments of self-awareness where Pip realised that she should not keep pushing people to answer questions, and to be empathetic towards those who are particularly close to this case. Going back to my point about how Pip is NOT a trained professional, she was also willing to lie and cheat to get answers. I’ll praise her doing the most that she can to solve the murder, but I do have to point out the fact that she did some pretty unethical things along the way. Now onto the next character. There was a bit of a blooming romance between Ravi, the brother of the alleged murderer, but I glad that it didn’t overshadow the main plot of the book. However, the story would’ve been fine without the romance in my opinion.

To someone who reads quite a bit of thrillers, the final reveal was a bit lacklustre. The confession and the moments leading up to it was not climactic nor was it a “OH MY GOD NO WAY” moment, but I honestly could not careless because everything else was pretty good. I also say that as someone who reads too many books of the genre, so it might be a different experience for you.

Overall this was such a fast-paced, immersive mystery that had me putting my dinner on hold just to finish another chapter. If you are looking for a solid YA thriller and mystery novel that will have you guessing till the very end, this one is it.

Note: I would also advise reading about the trigger warnings for this book. There was some mention of sexual assault and animal cruelty, so keep that in mind before reading– nothing too graphic but it is worth noting.

4 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read ‘A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder’ by Holly Jackson? If you have, let me know what you thought of it in the comments below!

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