Recommended Age: 16+
Genres: Mystery, Drama
Tags: Crime, Diversity, Murder mystery, Sisters
- Mature sexuality: Brief kissing, as well as descriptions of sexual manipulation, rape, and nudity.
- Mature violence: Descriptions of murder, abuse, bullying, suicide, animal cruelty, blackmail, and drug use.
- Moderate language: Some swearing, one F bomb, threats to life, and brief allusion to racism.
Nothing exciting happens in this small Northeastern town, but five years ago there was a murder. When the main suspect committed suicide and the missing girl was never found, the case closed. Sal Singh killed Andie Bell, and nobody believes otherwise. But when high school senior Pippa chooses to focus on the mystery for her capstone project, she secretly hopes for a different answer to all the unresolved questions buried years before. What really happened to Andie, and why would Sal kill himself? The more she digs into the closed case, the more secrets she stirs up. She starts to question whether solving this case is worth the danger, and how much she’s willing to risk for the sake of finding the truth once and for all.
Murder mysteries are so fascinating, and there’s something deeply satisfying about having each question answered and each problem solved. Though in this case, Pippa has to come to terms with the fact that she has stirred up more secrets than she knows what to do with, and more mysteries than she can solve on her own. She’s a super Type A honor roll student, an overachiever and hard worker and obsessive planner. She’s only a senior in high school but she’s already well on her way to a successful career as a detective. People who push and push for answers are always good protagonists, and Pippa’s refusal to go along with everyone’s opinions makes her see things from a fresh perspective.
I loved Pippa’s interactions with her family, it would have been nice to have more of those. But it wasn’t something that really moved the story forward. Her moments with friends were also a bit brief, and the majority of the book is centered on Pippa and Ravi (Sal’s brother) working together to solve this case. So we end up getting to know the suspects more than family and friends, though there are some cases where those labels cross.
The mystery is compelling, and it addresses the fact that not all martyrs are saints. There are some facts that people would rather ignore, or even desperately hide, and ignoring the truth of a situation or person is a good way to come up short of reality. Andie Bell’s endless drama and love for scandal makes her an unlikely martyr, but a very interesting mystery to solve. People don’t like to speak ill of the dead, but when the dead girl has a past that rivals Allison from Pretty Little Liars, the drama continues to unfold long after the funeral.
Pippa shows incredible empathy and gumption in befriending the Singh family despite everyone treating them like social pariahs, and approaching this mystery with an open mind. Her attitude shows a willingness to learn and move past judgments that we could use more of in society.
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