First Lines: Pip knew where they lived. Everyone in Fairview knew where they lived. The home was like the town’s haunted house; people’s footsteps quickened as they walked by, and their words strangled and died in their throats. Shrieking children would gather on their walk home from school, daring one another to run up and touch the front gate. But it wasn’t haunted by ghosts, just three sad people trying to live their lives as before.
As someone who grew up on mystery novels, I find myself constantly coming back to them. But it has to be a good mystery, you know? I heard good things about this one and thought it might be worth my time.
Five years ago, popular Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, Sal Singh, who then killed himself. The town of Fairview has talked about nothing else since. But now, Pip plans to investigate it further. See, she knew Sal when she was a kid and he was so kind…it doesn’t seem right that he killed Andie. Something doesn’t add up. Now a senior herself, Pip is examining the closed case as part of her senior project, just to cast doubt on the official ruling. But the more she digs, the more secrets she finds…secrets that might prove Sal’s innocence. And someone in Fairview isn’t happy that Pip is searching for answers…
I now fully understand why this book is rated as highly as it is. It’s masterful.
Where do I start? Pippa “Pip” Fitz-Amobi has questions about the disappearance of Andie Bell and the subsequent suicide of Sal Singh, Andie’s boyfriend. So she decides to make investigating the crime her senior capstone project. (Side note: do schools really do that? Colleges, yes, but high schools??) Pip is highly intelligent, picking up on subtleties the entire story, whether it’s someone saying “was” instead of “is” in reference to Andie or the way they look at her when she asks a specific question. At first, all she wants to do is provide reasonable doubt about Sal’s guilt and let the police do the rest, but as she continues to dig, it’s too hard not to follow through with the investigation.
The mystery itself is a true winner. I mean, you have a suspect list nearly the entire story, but it keeps shifting and changing. Sometimes, one person looks more guilty than another, then it changes. It’s very cleverly written, I will absolutely give it kudos for that. The mystery makes sense, the reveals make sense, and there isn’t really this “gotcha” moment that turns the entire story on its head for no reason. I mean, I like a surprise ending as well as the next mystery fan, but there’s something to be said for the plot making sense.
The story also isn’t written in straight narration. It’s framed by the senior project. It’s written in text messages, phone call transcripts, maps, and photos. That makes the story go faster while giving you something almost tangible to make you feel like you’re part of the sleuthing team at the same time. I mean, I flew through those early pages as the mystery started to unfold.
I really enjoyed just letting this mystery play out rather than trying to predict everything. Besides, I would have been wrong.