I’m pretty sure it was Dustin himself who started me on McManus’s books back when her first came out about three years ago. He reviewed it very well in a review roundup, and One of Us Is Lying was great. Despite the fact that I totally guessed the real killer almost immediately, the characters were so enjoyable, and there were enough twists and uncertainties to keep me going. It’s still my favourite of all her books, but The Cousins is another worthy addition to her catalogue, and the cover consistency is very pleasing to me.
This YA mystery centres on a trio of cousins. Twenty-four years ago, their grandmother disinherited and cut off all contact with their parents. Now the younger generation has been invited to granny’s fancy island resort for the summer, where secrets will be spilled, illicit teenage romance will bloom, and the threat of murder most-or-at-least-fairly foul looms over it all and am I a little bit over-tired while writing this? Yes, yes I am.
McManus is good at creating teenage characters whom you don’t want to strangle, and she’s good at pacing her books to set the scene, develop the characters, feed you clues, and keep you invested, but not bored (although this one does start a bit slower than most). The mysteries themselves aren’t necessarily jaw-dropping or groundbreaking (you’ll probably have a good guess as to the reason behind the disinheritance before anyone even lands on the island), but there’s enough extra stuff going on that will probably surprise you.
If you’re like me, and you have absolutely no self control at all, and you always end up skimming to the end of a good mystery before backing up and reading the damn thing properly, you’ll be impressed with the hints McManus drops along the way. They don’t stand out in context, and make absolute sense once you know the truth.
With very few tweaks, this could be a review of any of McManus’s four novels, but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable. The reason One of Us remains my favourite is because I loved those characters best, and I’m probably not alone in that, given that it’s already got a sequel (One of Us Is Next).
My main complaint? One of Us Is Lying. Two Can Keep a Secret. There are LITERALLY THREE MAIN CHARACTERS IN THIS BOOK. You couldn’t have done “Three’s a Crowd” or “Three For All” or SOMETHING? COME ON, KAREN. It offends me how easily this problem could be solved.