Solid mystery

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skhathaway Avatar


I’m excited to see this book getting lots of love in the reviews. It’s a good, solid, twisty mystery that was entertaining and suspenseful. Lauren is a reliable and relatable narrator, and the characters, relationships, and issues felt authentic. I appreciated the teen sleuth vibe.

Having read so many thrillers, I had an inkling of an idea whodunit (no red flags), yet I still enjoyed the ride. I’m disappointed there was no clear motive. The three third-person chapters that oddly pop up as the reveal for the major twist only suggest a “thing in the pit of him, the thing that is always ravenous and never satiated.” This is where the book fell apart for me. It seems like the third person perspective - including the motive - was edited out of the majority of the book and the edges weren’t smoothed over to fill the gap. At least he didn’t get away with murder at the end of it all like the title suggests.

I also question why “what really happened in California” is withheld. I’d have preferred that backstory to unfold throughout the story as character development rather than a secondary mystery revealed at the end.

My favorite part of the story was the intensity in the beginning, from the secret fling between Lauren and Robbie to Lauren establishing herself in a community with secrets and trauma. It’s relatable that Lauren and Robbie lost trust for each other as their dark pasts were unveiled and the present unfolded. But it also felt like their relationship lost its spark and was never truly rekindled, despite an effort to give us a happy ending in Happy Valley.