Book #16

Two Can Keep A Secret by Karen M. McManus

Echo Ridge is reeling.

This picturesque town, nestled near the Canadian border, experienced its first tragic loss in 1995 when high school senior Sarah Corcoran vanished while walking home from the library.

Then five years ago, homecoming queen Lacey Kilduff was found dead in the aptly named Murderland Halloween park.
Now, the killer claims to be back.
A small town that keeps losing its homecoming queens.
Two murders, still unsolved.

I read McManus’s debut One Of Us Is Lying last year, and was blown away. I let a friend borrow it recently, which prompted her to buy Two Can Keep a Secret. It’s very rare people lend me books, so I was delighted to borrow this one.

This little sister has a similar feel to its predecessor; high school, mystery, death, and (my champion of narrative devices), alternating perspectives. I was really into the plot and, since I was desperate to solve the mystery, devoured this in a few days. It’s sure to do well in the YA community with its active storyline and tense undercurrent. 

Despite the above, there was something a lot slower in this plot. It ticked along nicely, and engaged me, but there was a lack of the what the fuck twisty moments, red herrings, and total curveballs I so loved in One of Us Is Lying. Where the debut featured multiple perspectives, Two Can Keep a Secret gave only two, relatively similar, views on the murderous goings on. Here, you know who to trust.

Where One Of Us Is Lying had characters mostly fitting neat stereotypes, McManus has done well here to give us a far more diverse cast in terms of race and sexuality. Although race and sexuality varied across the characters, each of them came across as pretty underdeveloped; I think some more exploration into each of their personalities would have had an excellent benefit into what McManus was trying to achieve here. 

And then I got to the utterly chilling final sentence of the novel, and I was struck by this masterstroke. What a way to leave a reader, what a diabolically frightening way to end a novel. It was glorious, and I screamed on the train.

A good murder mystery which only really suffers from the syndrome of having to live up to an older sibling. I enjoyed the fast pace and the simple narrative here, and although it isn’t the most jaw-dropping thriller to grace YA fiction, I think it’s a worthwhile use of reading time.