I came for the mystery, I stayed because I physically could not put the books down.
I am not ashamed to admit that I am in the majority of people who absolutely devour BookTok recommendations. They’ve done me a great deal of good (i.e. Emily Henry’s heart-melting rom-coms and Taylor Jenkins Reid’s extraordinary fiction pieces), but of course, they’ve also led me astray a time or two. I’m specifically referring to novels with shirtless men on the cover that I cannot consciously purchase hardcopies of. When I decided to pick up the first installment of Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder (AGGGTM) series, I didn’t have high hopes for it. From the somewhat cheesy title, the suspiciously high praise I’d seen on TikTok, and the fact that it was shelved under Young Adult Fiction (which I have recently been transitioning out of, after a few too many DNFs), I was hesitant to give it a shot. However, my newly-sparked interest in the mystery genre (thanks to two screenings of Netflix’s Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery) was enough to convince me to try. Thank god I did.
Here are some reasons why I absolutely adored this series.
The Mystery (duh)
Like I said, AGGGTM was my introduction to mystery novels. Despite my mother’s pleading and nagging for me to try on an Agatha Christie classic ever since I could read, I refused to give in to mysteries, probably because of the stereotypical clichés that everyone knows and hates. I didn’t feel like wasting my time with novels about static characters running around with their heads loose only for the ending to be some predictable disappointment. Maybe I overestimated my sleuthing skills, or that my mother was actually right this whole time, but AGGGTM shut down every misconception I had had. I am ashamed it took 19 years for me to realize that mysteries rock. AGGGTM showed me it was possible for a novel to grip you by the throat and drag you through countless heart-stopping, spine-chilling plot-twists. It was this grip that had me driving to multiple book stores at 10pm to look for the second and third book the second I had finished the first.
Throughout all three books, not once was I able to predict where the story would go. As the plot progressed, I grew more and more enraptured. It was like my life depended on finding out what would happen next. Who knew mysteries had this effect? (Probably everyone ever.) Each book in the trilogy has its own individual mystery, interwoven with linkages to each other. I could see how this format could be executed poorly, as it is easily susceptible to repetition or plateauing. However, Holly Jackson must have known this herself, as she was careful with how the mysteries escalated with each installment. I was hooked by the first book, already satisfied with how it all came together in the end, and I wondered what could be improved to keep readers interested in the second and third book. As it turns out, there were many ways to darken the plot, and Holly Jackson took advantage of every one. She utilizes readers’ growing attachments to the characters, and gradually siphons in more suspenseful tasks and risks for them to experience, each one worse than the last. The thorough intentionality and delicious pacing of the story makes it absolutely impossible to stop reading.
Pippa (Pip) Fitz-Amobi: my beloved. Pip is our seventeen year old protagonist who makes it her responsibility to solve a murder for her senior class project. We follow her as she uncovers dark secrets of her small town, and get to know her as an extremely intelligent, determined, stubborn, and witty teenage girl. I have a tendency to bend the knee to any strong, empowering female protagonist, and Pip is no exception. As the mystery unfolds, we see the chaotic but purely genius way her mind works as she sifts through new leads and evidence. She constantly demonstrates her unmoving resolve through efficient problem-solving (which often means breaking rules to get what she wants), and her sense of humour shines through her dialogue. All of these qualities make it extremely easy to like her and be interested in her adventures, but the additional arc of adolescent self-discovery and navigating teen girl struggles is what took the cake for me. The duality of the tough, unbreakable kid-detective and the vulnerable, relatable teenager created a sense of realness in her character that makes readers (me) fall in love with her.
“I bet everyone dreads the day they get a knock at the door from Pip Fitz-Amobi.”Holly Jackson, Good Girl, Bad Blood
Ravi Singh: too good for this world. Anyone who knows me would know that if I am reading a book, the book is going to have a romantic subplot! Seeked out by Pip for an interview, we are first introduced to Ravi as the brother of late Sal Singh– one of the primary characters involved in the first book’s murder mystery. He makes a charming impression on Pip and readers alike, that it seemed only inevitable when he decides to join Pip in her investigation, desperate to find justice for his wronged brother. While supplying the jokes and encouragement that only a true partner-in-crime can, Ravi demonstrates his undying loyalty from his very first appearance to his last in book 3. (Slight spoilers ahead!) At times, it seems like Ravi is the only person who is truly there for Pip, and who can understand what she’s going through. Therefore, it is no surprise when Pip and Ravi are officially in a relationship by the start of book 2. Here, I can confidently say: Ravi Singh is a strong candidate for Best Book Boyfriend. I couldn’t help but swoon over his every romantic gesture– from cute nicknames for Pip to aiding and abetting real crimes. Ravi’s ability to know exactly what Pip needs at all times helps to create their bulletproof trust system in each other, and you know I’m a sucker for “I will do anything for you” romances. Ravi brings an element of love and humanity into a somewhat dark story, which captivates readers on a secondary level to the plot itself.
“He was her life raft, her cornerstone for what good truly meant.”Holly Jackson, As Good as Dead
The Reading Experience
Clearly, I had a blast reading this trilogy, which I am sure you could already tell. Nevertheless, I figured it was important for me to regurgitate just how much joy in its own section. Prepare for me to be dramatic. I loved binge reading these books. The suspense for what will happen next and the desperate need for more Pip and Ravi interactions had me pulling multiple all-nighters on weeknights, spending my work breaks with my Kindle in the bathroom, and resorting to purchasing the second and third book on Kindle after the fourth bookstore I visited that night was sold out. Reading these books felt like pumping drugs into my bloodstream. I just could not stop turning the pages. Pip’s obsession with solving her mysteries is completely contagious, and I loved it. Despite the major fatigue and overall distracted state I was in for the entire three days I spent reading (and about a week after I finished), it was all worth it in the end because these books made me feel alive. The best books are the ones that cause readers’ a slight decline in overall wellbeing, and the AGGGTM series is a true testament to that.
In case it wasn’t obvious enough, I highly recommend this series to anyone who is remotely literate. I thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish, and would even say I am a changed person. AGGGTM is approachable for any level of reader, and an excellent guide into the mystery genre, if I do say so myself.
Also, be sure to check out Holly Jackson’s newest mystery novel, Five Survive.
Jackson, H. (2021). As Good as Dead. Delacorte Press.
Jackson, H. (2020). Good Girl, Bad Blood. Delacorte Press.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder Series. (2022). Book Covers [Photograph]. Amazon. https://www.amazon.in/Good-Girls-Guide-Murder-Boxed/dp/0593568478