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Title: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (#1)
Author: Holly Jackson
Published: 2nd of May 2019 – Electric Monkey
Format: Paperback – 433 pages
“The people you love weren’t algebra: to be calculated, subtracted, or held at arm’s length across a decimal point.” – A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
Hello Hello! How are you?
Another week begins, and for once, this post won’t be what you expect it to be. I’ve been reading so many blog tour books lately, but I’ve finally had a lull where I could read what I wanted and this book screamed at me from my pile, so I had to give it a go!
I have been reading my own books alongside blog tour books and ARCs as well, don’t worry, but I haven’t been properly mood reading and picking up a book just because it looks good in quite a few months. I’ve given myself a break over the summer months, so I should be able to get more of my own books read, and hopefully, come up with a TBR game to start again in September! Keep reading for my thoughts on this great book that had me hooked from the very first page!
The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.
But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is the first book in a YA mystery series of the same title, in which we follow an A-grade student, Pippa (Pip) Fitz-Amobi as she embarks on a mission to prove that Salil Singh didn’t, in fact, kill Andie Bell as everyone in her village thinks that he did!
I have been in some very weird reading moods lately, and honestly, when a few bloggers friends were raving about this one, I dropped everything and picked it up because it sounded so amazing, and now it would seem that I am hooked on YA mysteries, so if anyone has any recommendations, please tell me about them in the comments section!!
I don’t usually read mysteries that much, I’ll be in the odd mystery mood every so often, but recently I have been craving (like really I have!) mysteries, like proper murder mysteries like Criminal Minds, CSI, Vera, the Jack Frost series, like all those amazing murder mystery shows! And this one was *chef’s kiss*. So, this review will probably not make much sense, but gosh, I was not expecting what this book did.
Firstly, it’s not like the usual mystery where you sort of only get a glimpse of the police procedure (which is actually the bit I love the most), in this case, Pippa almost becomes the police, she picks Andie and Sal’s life apart to try to find evidence, she questions people, she makes assumptions and jumps to conclusions, but in the end, she turns out to be such an amazing character and the story was just so great that I couldn’t help but love it.
Now, on to more serious stuff and no more blathering! This book is set in the UK in a small town called Little Kilton. It’s probably a fictional name, but it’s a little English town in which everyone knows everyone, they all go to school together and think that they know who their neighbours are, until one day Andie Bell goes missing, and a few days later, her boyfriend Sal Singh ends up killing himself in the woods and leaving evidence on his body and in Andie’s car that he killed her. The problem is, Pip doesn’t believe that is what happened.
I have to say, this book gave me massive Pretty Little Liars vibes, how Little Kilton is a little town, it seems a lot like Rosewood, especially with some things that happen later on in the book. I actually really enjoyed this setting. Sometimes in these type of non-fantasy settings, I find them a bit boring, but I actually thought that the author did a great job of building the town up and around the story of Andie Bell’s disappearance and Sal’s suicide.
Pippa has to do a project for her last year of high school, and she decides to prove that Sal was innocent, even though that’s not really the name of her project of course (wink wink). Her supervisor told her to not bother the Singhs or the Bells, but the first chance she gets, she goes to the Singhs and asks to speak with Ravi, Sal’s brother. This part of the book was actually quite sad because the whole family has been painted as monsters because of the alleged murder of Andie by their son and the whole town treats them as outsiders, worse is the fact that people associate them with this badness because they are Indian. Ravi refers to this a few times in the book, and I think this book deals with diversity and colour really well because of a few characters, it definitely shows that the UK is a racist country and that no one is innocent of this discrimination.
There were so many characters in this book, mainly because of the nature of the plot. Pippa eventually has 7 people of interest on her list, and as well as just herself and Ravi, there is a whole cast of family and friends that are constantly brought into the picture by the author. It was really interesting as I got a feel for all the families, and I suppose it’s the first time I’ve really enjoyed a book with family topics! I’m only going to talk about a few of these characters that I thought were the most important.
Andie: Obviously, you can’t talk about this book and about Pippa and Ravi, without first talking about Andie and Sal. I definitely thought there were resemblances between Andie Bell and Ali DiLaurentis from Pretty Little Liars, maybe because of their physical appearance, maybe because of something that happens later in the book, but I don’t want to spoil you, so I’ll leave it like that. Andie Bell is definitely Little Kilton’s sweetheart, everyone knew her, they all know she was murdered by her boyfriend Sal, but there is also a lot of things that no one knew, that Pippa found out. I was really intrigued to see how Andie’s character slowly changed over the course of the book and how people who knew her described her, it was definitely an ever-changing image, but in the end, I thought that it was really well executed. She might be dead, but she is definitely one of the main characters of this book.
Sal: We also get a lot of insight into Sal, not only from his brother but also from people who were his friends because he allegedly killed Andie and then himself. We also get an insight into the thoughts people have about him and the assumptions they made in believing that he was guilty. He came across as a very intelligent, kind and caring young man, but was that who he really was? You’ll have to read the book to find out!
Pippa: Now, Pippa is definitely the main character of this book. The book is narrated half in a third person, and the other half by herself in her project logs, her thoughts, her interviews and so on. I found her to be such an amazing character right from the start, and to continue my habit of comparing people in books to other characters, I have to say that Pippa exudes the same feelings and impressions as Dr Spencer Reid does in Criminal Minds. Both are obvious geniuses, they know a wealth of information, when they are uneasy they start blathering about the most mundane information and they don’t really have a sense of humour, I found all these elements to be so funny coming from Pippa. She is so strong-willed and she thinks she is invincible, but she wants to prove that Sal is innocent and she will stop at nothing to get proof, she is truly an amazing character and I can’t wait to pick up the next book in the series to find out more about her.
Ravi: Right from the start, I loved Ravi. He is such a down to earth character, he knows deep down in his heart that his brother is innocent, but he also knows that no one cares and has been forced to stop fighting because of the damage it is doing to his family. I think the whole Singh family are deeply wounded by the events people have associated with their son. You only meet the parents later in the book, but there is a big veil of grief over this family, the worst thing is that they can’t express it because they are the family of the guy who allegedly killed the angel that was Andie Bell. Ravi was just such a great character and I loved getting to know him throughout the book, he and Pip make up a great investigative team and I can’t wait to see more from this duo (I’m struggling to not drop everything and jump on book 2 straight away!).
As a murder mystery book, obviously this book is not for the faint-hearted. As it is YA, there isn’t that much that is shown, most of it is implied, but it is very explicit and it is about a murder from start to finish, so if this is not your cup of tea, I would try something else instead.
Murder/death/suicide: When this book starts, Andie and Sal have been dead for just over 5 years and the case was closed as soon as Sal killed himself and the police found evidence that he had killed Andie. They never found her body, but as they had the culprit, they didn’t need to look anymore to know that she was dead. You don’t really get much of a visual onto the murder or any of the crime scenes, but there is definitely a feeling of a monster who took the life of a lovely young girl. The whole town has painted Sal as a murdered, painting his family as evil in the process, and everyone assumes that Andie is as nice as pie. We learn that Sal killed himself a few days after Andie’s disappearance, if you are uneasy about this topic, I would steer clear because it’s talked about quite a lot. In the end, yes this book is about murder, there are bodies, people have died, but it’s not just that.
Family: I think that there is a really strong sense of family in this book as well, not just Pippa’s family, but a lot of different families and through this book and Pip’s investigation, we get an inside view into the lives of many different families and we see how they live and uncover their secrets. In Pip’s and Ravi’s case, family is at the centre, it is so important and I personally adored when Pip’s family came into the frame, it was so lovely, her dad is so sweet and funny and I loved getting to know them. We also learn about some stuff in other families and I think that the author pulled off the plot twists so well because I did not see that coming and the assumptions I had were completely blown apart.
Investigation: Hands down, my favourite part of this book was the investigation. The reason I watch so many murder mystery and police shows is because I adore all the police procedures. When I was a kid, my dream was to either become a coroner or a police detective (I bet you didn’t see that coming right?) but cause I’m crap with maths and science that was a no go. I jump at the chance to watch any show or read any book with an emphasis on the investigative process of a crime because I find it so interesting, it completely captivates me, I know I’m weird lol. This investigation was AMAZING! And I don’t say that lightly. I’ve read so many mystery books that hardly have an emphasis on the actual procedures behind the scenes, finding evidence, discovering clues, matching prints, etc, and this book although not involving the actual police, was 100 times better than some of the ones I’ve read that did. Pippa was so thorough with everything and she discovered some amazing evidence, I was never expecting it, it was just so well written and so well-executed, it was just perfect!
Other trigger warnings: This book is definitely on the heavier side, it not only talks about murder, suicide, withholding evidence, complicity and secrets, it also has topics of sexual assault, drugs and drug abuse, injury, psychological abuse, death threats and dog death, so please be aware of these if you would like to pick this book up.
MY THOUGHTS AND RATING
I think by now, if you’ve made it to the end of this review, you probably know my thoughts right? I feel like I have so much more to say about it, but for the sake of my readers, I will just say that this book was amazing. The characters were awesome, they all had so many different sides, Pip and Ravi revealed so much and I was really not expecting that outcome. I had from about 30% through to the end and inkling that I thought would turn out to be true, well guess what? It really wasn’t, the plot twist at the end, oh wow!
I loved how Pip was always one step ahead and oftentimes, you only really work out what is going on at the same time as she says it, and I honestly would never have guessed what did what to who and why and how and where and when and all that! It was just brilliant and I loved every minute of it, so my 5-star rating was absolutely the easiest choice ever. I was hooked right from the start, loved it immensely, knew I was giving it 5 stars from the first couple chapters and now I have such a bit book hangover, I might have to go read book 2 straightaway. This book is absolutely worth your time, go read it please, you’ll thank me later!
So, that was a very long review, please forgive me, but I think as one of my favourite books of the year so far, it deserved this gushing review! That’s all for now, I hope you enjoyed this post, please give me some recommendations for YA mysteries in the comments and definitely pick this book up if you haven’t done so yet. See you soon, stay safe,
If you would like to purchase this book, you can find it here: Amazon UK (affiliate link) – Amazon FR (affiliate link) – AbeBooks (affiliate link) – The Book Depository (affiliate link) – Amazon US – Waterstones – Barnes and Noble – Scrib’d – Kobo