Good Girl, Bad Blood by Holly Jackson (SPOILER FREE book review)
GENRE: YA Mystery (sequel)
LENGTH: 397 pages
This novel is a sequel to A Good Girl's Guide to Murder. Pip swore she was done with her detective days after she solved the Andie Bell case, but when her friend's brother goes missing she finds herself drawn into another investigation.
Right off the bat the lasting emotional impact of the events of the previous novel's case is addressed. If it hadn't been I think it would have rang very false since the culprit was a close family friend and the protagonist lost her beloved childhood dog as a repercussion of investigating the case. This would leave mental scars on anyone but especially a young person so I was glad it wasn't just glossed over.
I also liked how, despite Pip being directly responsible for her dad's arrest, Pip and Cara were able to remain friends and support each other. Readers of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder know that while working together on the Andie Bell case Pip and Ravi Singh became close. This novel sees that bond continue to grow. The two have a very sweet chemistry together and are supportive of one another. The YA demographic is one over saturated with books featuring toxic, controlling relationships which are romanticized. It's refreshing and promising to see a book from a popular YA series which demonstrates what a healthy relationship should be.
Like with its predecessor the novel is told from the third person perspective of Pip. Also like AGGGTM these chapters are interspersed with mixed media sections that include things such as a podcast and evidence photos among other things. I much prefer this novel's use of mixed media over AGGGTM as I feel like AGGGTM's was a tad implausible. The idea of Pip doing a true crime podcast makes a lot more sense than her doing a school project as it offers more freedom from limitations. I can also see this novel appealing to fans of Sadie by Courtney Summers which is a fellow YA mystery about a disappearance. Sadie like Good Girl, Bad Blood incorporates a true crime podcast.
There are several instances of foreshadowing in this novel. This is something that a lot of readers probably won't care too much about but as a writer myself I like to see it. It's very well done as once you get towards the end of the novel you can go back and pinpoint it but it's not so blatant that it spoils things.
The first approx. 10% of the novel is spent has a sort of summary of the events of AGGGTM. This part isn't simply a rehash, though, as I mentioned in the above section it takes a closer look at the characters and how they're coping. As with AGGGTM the mystery and intrigue gradually grows in intensity as clues are discovered.
The stakes when compared to AGGGTM feel higher because this is not a cold case has with the first novel. Pip is racing against the clock and with each clue discovered it becomes more and more urgent that they find Jamie.
The novel takes place in the same small town of Fairview as the first did. This means that we see a number of recurring characters, some of whom were suspects in the Bell case. Small town life and locations around town are once again incorporated into the story.
I mentioned this with the first novel and it holds true with this one that the atmosphere isn't spooky/scary. So, if that's something you're looking for this series isn't going to give it to you. There are a few moments when things are unsettling but that's it.
FINAL THOUGHTS This novel took everything I liked about the first novel and made it even better. It reads like a cleaner (in terms of idea execution) version. As I mentioned above I think this book and even its predecessor are perfect for Sadie fans. If you like the Truly Devious books and what drew you into those was the teen detective aspect then I also recommend this series. Even though I liked this one better than A Good Girl's Guide to Murder I still think the first book warrants reading. If the plot doesn't appeal to you as much as this one's, however, then I think it would be reasonably easy to read this as a sort of standalone. Reading the first book is important but not essential for context.
FINAL RATING: 5 ⭐️