Book Review: “A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder” by Holly Jackson

Cover of "A Good Girl's Guide To Murder" by Holly Jackson
Cover of “A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder” by Holly Jackson.

I’m back with another book review, and this time I’m reviewing “A Good Girl’s Guide To Murder” by Holly Jackson. This is yet another murder mystery book, and

Here’s a quick summary so we know what it’s about:

“The case is closed. Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it.

But having grown up in the same small town that was consumed by the murder, Pippa Fitz-Amobi isn’t so sure. When she chooses the case as the topic for her final year project, she starts to uncover secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden. And if the real killer is still out there, how far will they go to keep Pip from the truth?”

Content Warning:

This book contains mentions of murder (of both people and animals), cyberbullying, kidnapping, a scene with attempted sexual assault, discussions of actual sexual assault and drug use, and sexual relationships between adults and underage individuals. If you are sensitive to any of this content, please read this book carefully or skip reading it entirely.

Plot Development: 2.5 out of 5 stars

One major nitpick I had with the plot’s concept was that Pippa already had a personal connection with the alleged killer of Andie, Sal. She technically shouldn’t be allowed to take on the case based on that alone. However, as the reader, I assume that she didn’t disclose that connection before taking on investigating Andie’s murder as her capstone project. Additionally, Pippa did break all the ethical guidelines she was supposed to follow for the capstone project. She also manipulated a lot of her close family and friends which I disliked, and it’s something I’ll discuss more in character development.

I thought the plot twist of Mr. Ward being more connected to Andie than first seen in the book was decently executed, but I felt that him kidnapping another girl to “replace” Andie in his life made little sense for his character development, considering him being portrayed as more sympathetic up until then. I also felt that the reveal of the true criminal was a bit underwhelming overall, as well.

Character Development: 1 out of 5 stars

It was hard for me to enjoy reading the protagonist, Pippa. A major reason for this is because she broke all the ethical guidelines she was supposed to follow for her project, as I mentioned earlier in the plot development section. I understand that she did this to find clues to solve the case. However, not only did she anger a lot of people in the process (both unintentionally and intentionally), but she was just incredibly insensitive to others’ personal lives. For example, she decided to get the brother of the alleged killer Sal (Ravi) involved in helping her with the case. She does this in spite of her ethical guidelines stating that she was not supposed to approach the families that were involved in this case. Additionally, Ravi himself was uncomfortable at the beginning with Pippa getting involved, to begin with. I do not understand why he changed his mind (other than the possibility of proving Sal’s innocence) despite how painful it was to look into this mystery again.

I also just disliked Pippa as a person overall, when reading this book. It’s understandable that she has to question a lot of the evidence she’s given to find out the truth. However, she really doesn’t know when to stop at the point before she angers a lot of people (especially with the numerous threats she received from both the killer and everyone else that wasn’t the killer). Pippa comes off as the least sympathetic than everyone else in this story, even with her life being threatened and her dog getting killed. This is because her main character traits consisted of butting into other people’s business to the point of giving them absolutely no privacy to grieve at all, as well as her constant blackmailing of said people to get what she wanted.

Also, I just find it hypocritical that Pippa can blackmail people and she’s instantly forgiven by the end simply because she did find out who killed Andie. Meanwhile, Andie herself actually did blackmail people and was scrutinized by everyone that was blackmailed by her. I’m not excusing Andie’s actions here; I still think it’s bad that she did what she did.

As for the other characters, I felt that Ravi should have had more of a spotlight, especially since he was Sal’s brother. I enjoyed reading him significantly more than Pippi. I also think the book would make more sense and also be more fun to read if Ravi was the protagonist. Sure, he’s the brother of Sal, the alleged killer. However, he’s also not pursuing the mystery as a capstone project, to begin with. His personal connection to the alleged killer would give him more of an opportunity to dive deeper into the mystery while not breaking so many ethical guidelines due to not being bound to a school project. Based on what I read of Ravi in this book, he would have been more sensitive and considerate to the others’ involvement in Andie’s murder as well as other situations that ended up being discussed throughout the book.

Overall, I’m rating this book out 1.5 of 5 stars!

This was a letdown in terms of the protagonist’s actions and how she rarely suffered consequences for those actions (other than the usual “her own life is threatened” and “pet is killed” parts). I would enjoy reading this book more if it were Ravi taking charge of the mystery instead of Pippi.

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