The Bossy Bookworm
Review of As Good As Dead (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #3) by Holly Jackson
Jackson doesn't skimp on heart-pounding pacing, captivating character development, and dark turns in this third book in her young adult mystery series. I never would have predicted the twists. Sign me up for all Pippa Fitz-Amobi books, forever, please.
“Or, you know, instead of revenge plots, we could focus our energy on going off to university in a few weeks," he said brightly. "You haven’t even picked out a new duvet set; I’m told that’s a very important milestone.”
Where are all of my fellow Pippa Fitz-Amobi superfans?
As Good As Dead is the final book in A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, a series I've loved, and I've been delaying reading this third and final installment due to my willful denial that the series is ending, my intense love for the characters of Pip and Ravi, and Holly Jackson's smart, sassy, irresistible storytelling.
Ever since Pip's book two detective work ended in an important resolution, she's been coping with the significant trauma of that case's dramatic final events.
She's in danger of being sued for libel by Max Freaking Hastings, who Pip knows is a terrible person who has done terrible things--which is why she said so, passionately, on her podcast.
And she can't shake a general sense of unease, as though she's missing something.
Pip is supposed to be out buying new sheets and a shower caddy for college, which starts in a few weeks. She's in love with Ravi and should be soaking up her last summer days with him. She's going to miss her family terribly, but she can't focus on quality time with them either.
Because now she also seems to have a stalker--and not just any stalker, one who may have unnerving similarities to a local serial killer caught years ago. She's starting to wonder: could the wrong person be in jail for those crimes? It's becoming clear to Pip that it's imperative for her to identify her stalker--before she ends up as his next murder victim.
It's essential to recall the details of past book events in order to grasp the fascinating changes here, and Jackson's recaps are skillfully interwoven into the story on the perfect need-to-know schedule.
A bratty, nitpicky editorial issue: various characters were said to take part in frequent (disdainful) sniffing, particularly in the second half of the book, and I found the repetition of this striking habit distracting. Similarly nitpicky: the use of "round" instead of "around" throughout the book read as distinctly British to me and didn't seem to fit.
However, I was completely hooked not only by Jackson's story but by the character evolution, the loyal friendships, the adorable relationship growth between Ravi and Pip--and particularly by this book's dark shift in Pip's approach to detective work and to ensuring that justice is served.
We begin by witnessing the unraveling of Pip's controlled manner, her desperate attempts to cope with significant past trauma, and her (justified) intense feelings of responsibility for being the one to not only find elusive answers to various mysteries at hand, but singlehandedly ensuring the safety of the whole region.
She's poring through files, making spreadsheets (and predicting Ravi's teasing about them), interviewing neighbors and jailed criminals, and tracking down leads, all the while realizing that justice is often not served and fighting against time to save her own life.
If someone had laid out the events of this book before I could read the story as presented by the talented Jackson, I might have thought the plot sounded potentially outrageous in light of the previous books...but Jackson builds a case for the book's incredibly dark turns.
The direction the book takes is fascinating. Jackson does not let off the gas pacing-wise. The unexpected twists and turns kept me riveted while Pip's unfailing bravery and her hero's struggles and emotional turmoil threatened to break my heart.
Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?
Book one in the A Good Girl's Guide to Murder (AGGGTM) series is A Good Girl's Guide to Murder and book two is Good Girl, Bad Blood.
Holly Jackson is also the author of Kill Joy (A Good Girl's Guide to Murder #0.5) and Five Survive.