Sal Singh murdered Andie Bell and then committed suicide. The story of the unhinged teenager who killed his young girlfriend has passed into Little Kilton folklore, a dark stain on the town’s reputation. But how can the case be officially closed when Andie’s body has never been found? Local sixth-former, Pip Fitz-Amobi, has always doubted the original police verdict and decides to embark on her own investigation for a school project. In the award winning A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson, we join Pip’s descent into a murky and villainous world.
Winner of Children’s Book of the Year at the British Book Awards, Jackson’s novel is a marvellously entertaining crime thriller, centred around events within a group of teenagers five years previously. The third-person narrative is spliced with entries from Pip’s project notes, a smart way to feed information and clues to eager amateur sleuths (beware of the numerous red herrings!)
On the night in question, Andie left home in her car, which was later found abandoned. An extensive search of nearby woodland revealed nothing, and after an unconvincing police interview, boyfriend Sal took his own life. Andie’s phone was subsequently found on his body and her blood under his fingernails, an apparent confession text to his father sealing Sal’s posthumous conviction.
Employing tech-savvy methods and the very modern trend for true crime podcasts, Pip forensically dissects every aspect of the case. Why did Sal’s best friends initially provide him with an alibi, only to withdraw it, and what dastardly secrets did Andie’s ‘golden girl’ persona conceal? Through police interview transcripts and dogged pursuit of every potential lead, Pip draws closer to the truth, and as all crime fiction enthusiasts could predict, this is when the death threats begin.
This is an addictive read, blessed with a tenacious lead character and some clever plotting. I exclaimed out loud at the absolutely preposterous finale, but enjoyed every minute of it.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson is published by Electric Monkey, 448 pages.