I’m a huge fan of UKYA, crime fiction and growing up, I adored Anne Cassidy’s Looking For JJ so her latest YA series, The Murder Notebooks sounded right up my street. Please note, Killing Rachel is the second book in this series, the first being Dead Time, so there will be some mild spoilers for the first book.
Five years ago, Rose’s mum and stepdad went out for dinner. They never came back. In Dead Time, Rose reconnected with her stepbrother, Joshua, and they learnt there was a much greater conspiracy behind the disappearances after finding several mysterious and cryptic notebooks that may uncover the long awaited answers.
While Josh is following up his own leads about where their family is, Rose is thrown when she learns that a former friend at her old boarding school has died after several attempts to contact Rose. Did Rachel really kill herself or was she murdered? And could her death lead to one more clue in the mystery of Rose’s mum?
At times, if I am honest, I found that Killing Rachel was a little less fast-paced than I had hoped. I think this is because I found Cassidy’s narrative style felt a little at the younger end of YA and I perhaps still associate anything to do with crime in fiction with traditional crime fiction. However, this may in fact be a good thing as it will entice a wider range of teenagers into reading thrillers, suspense and the mystery genre as a whole.
Despite these tiny niggles, I did find the flashes into Rose’s life in boarding school and her toxic friendship with Rachel very realistic and compelling and a worthwhile addition to the plot. Rachel comes across as an incredibly damaged girl, who lies and clearly doesn’t feel good enough on her own. Rose’s own reluctance to challenge Rachel was something I think is very true to many teenagers and I liked that Cassidy contrasted this with Rose’s character development from Dead Time and how much stronger she now is.
I am very interested to find out what has happened to Rose’s mum and Josh’s dad and I think the developments and revelations of Killing Rachel will whet readers’ appetites for book three. I love that just as I thought I knew what was happening with regards to this plot, Cassidy turned it completely around with a twist.
While the Murder Notebooks may not be guns blazing action on every page, I think they are an exciting series for teenagers to read. Anne Cassidy is one of the most eminent UKYA voices and I am pleased to see the author I so enjoyed reading growing up is still writing fun, thrilling mysteries. I received a free review copy from Bloomsbury for my honest reviewing purposes. Killing Rachel is available to buy now.