‘Sucks how people in this town keep getting away with murder doesn’t it?’
When twins Ellery and Ezra come to stay in Echo Ridge, they’re already acquainted with its unsettling history. On the surface, a bastion of decent small-town America, Echo Ridge has witnessed the murder of not one but two homecoming queens. Does the town’s respectable veneer conceal a shocking trail of deceit, conspiracy, and sheer bloody murder? You bet. As the unknown killler stirs once more, it’s time for a screamfest in the thrilling Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus.
McManus first came to our attention with her teen bestseller, One Of Us is Lying. I wondered if she could replicate the energy and suspense of that thoroughly entertaining debut thriller, and the answer is a resounding yes. The perfect indoor companion on a wet, wintry weekend, Two Can Keep a Secret spins an intricate web of characters and plot threads.
Ellery and Ezra’s arrival at Echo Ridge High School coincides with a sequence of dark events. Firstly, Mr Bowman, a popular science teacher, is fatally mown down in the street, the victim of a hit-and-run driver. Visiting his grave in the local cemetery, students stumble across a horrifying sight. Hanging from the top of a mausoleum are three dolls. Wearing crowns and with nooses around their necks, they are dripping red painted letters that spell ‘I’m back. Pick your queen, Echo Ridge. Happy homecoming.’
It appears that the killler has risen again, and when Ellery is unexpectedly shortlisted for homecoming queen, she realises that drastic action is required.
An implausible read at times but none the less enjoyable for that. Chockablock with shady goings on and red herrings, every single one of my considered deductions was hilariously wide of the mark. Considering the murderer’s identity, Ellery says ‘…if years of reading true-crime books…have taught me anything, it’s this: It’s always the boyfriend.’
Go find out if she’s right…
Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen McManus is published by Penguin, 336 pages.