I’m not sneaking up on anybody by reading and reviewing Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. It was definitely one of the most talked-about books of 2020, it’s going to be a series, and it even made Goodreads’ Best of YA fiction finalist list. Even with all of the accolades it was one I missed – you just can’t get to everything, after all.
Luckily for me, my wife short-listed this as one of my must-reads for 2021. (I’ve got five or six more on the list that I’ll be reading and reviewing over the coming months.) I am glad I got to read this one. It’s an exciting mix of modern dark suburban mystery flavored with a little bit of Veronica Mars.
The characters aren’t as interesting as Rob Thomas’ V Mars characters (well, maybe the lackluster season three ones), but it’s got that teenagers-solving-real-crimes thing, weird family dynamics, and some occasionally witty characters. However, it’s definitely more plot-driven than character driven. That’s probably a plus instead of a minus for many mystery readers.
The plot starts a little too closely to one of the Serial podcast’s real-world case for me, but it quickly moves away from the dead girlfriend-suspect boyfriend dynamic. It evolves into its own mystery quickly. While it’s nearly 400 pages, it’s a pretty quick read. Jackson does a great job of planting clues and red herrings all over the place. There were several times I was positive I solved the case, but I was never quite right. However, I do think it’s a solvable book and I think Jackson is fair and consistent with her clues.
As a mystery fan who doesn’t like thing too dark, I’ll definitely be happy to return to this series.