A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

“‘You really don’t think Sal did it, do you,’ Ravi said.

‘I just can’t believe it,’ she said as she stepped over an old fallen tree. ‘My brain hasn’t been able to leave it alone, so when this project thing came up for school, I jumped at the excuse to reexamine the case.’

Under the guise of working on her senior capstone project, Pippa decides to look into the death of pretty and popular Andie Bell who disappeared five years ago. Sal Singh, her brilliant and kind boyfriend, was found dead in the woods of an apparent suicide. Although Andie’s body was never recovered, all evidence in the police investigation led to Sal being accused of murdering Andie. Pip, however, doesn’t buy that Sal was guilty and – with her usual perfectionism and humor – begins to conduct interviews, dig up old Facebook posts, and sleuth around town in order to prove Sal’s innocence. With determination, Pippa manages to unearth long-buried secrets, but not without putting herself and everyone she cares about in danger.

Ratings & Reviews

  • Book Grade: A
    • Contrary to the title, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is an addictive story with a wholesome and lovable protagonist, and is not a traditionally dark suspense story. This book fits the bill for Young Adult suspense, but goes above and beyond by engaging the reader in solving the mystery alongside Pippa. There are lots of twists and turns and a surprise ending that had me guessing the whole time. The dialogue is realistic and the balance of Pippa’s high school life and her obsession with the case makes for a super readable book for teens and adults. BONUS: The audiobook version of this is particularly good (one of the best I have ever listened to) with a great cast and well-placed sound effects that make different sections sound like phone calls or recorded conversations.
  • Movie Rating: PG-13
    • This book is designed for a more mature audience – it involves a lot of contemporary social issues that might be tougher for younger audiences to feel comfortable with or understand. There is some swearing (but not memorable in the context of the story) and there is frank discussion of drugs and drug dealing, rape, murder, and mental health issues, but more in a journalistic sense than a normative one. One of the characters hints at a homosexual relationship and one of the leads focuses on Andie’s relationship with “an older guy” which is later explained, but none of the main characters are in significant relationships, so saucy scenes are not a factor in this rating. Pippa jokes that she is incredibly serious and focuses more on working on her college application than on normal teen pursuits during the course of the book. This book does have some dark moments with each of the suspects having a serious flaw, and unearthing them is best done by a more mature reader.
  • Would I Buy This for My Library: Yes.
    • This book is a great read, especially for teens who easily become obsessed with books. The print format features different chapter styles based on the notes and entries that Pippa has collected, making this a super engaging book. Pippa shows that it is completely okay to be that girl who loves homework, her family, and her dog; she doesn’t need to be validated by boyfriends, parties, or the trappings of popularity. She is a great role model for all girls determined to forge their own path.

Book Talk Questions

  1. How is Andie remembered by everyone in town? What are some of the secrets about her that Pippa uncovers?
  2. Sal’s friends contacted the police a few days after Andie disappeared to say that he had asked them for an alibi. Explain what is unearthed about this and why Sal’s friends lied.
  3. Why is Pippa struggling with her Columbia application? What does she eventually write about? How does this reflect how she has changed over the course of the novel?
  4. Explain how Pippa unearths the truth about the person who has been sending her threatening notes. What does that person have to hide?
  5. Why does Pippa try to protect Andie’s sister? What happens to her instead?

A Perfect Read for Fans of…

  • One of Us is Lying
  • Sadie
  • People Like Us
  • Truly Devious
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