Ears on the Odyssey

Review: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder

If you were assigned a senior capstone project, what would you focus on? Well, if you’re Pippa Fitz-Amobi, you decide your project will be to prove the innocence of a teen who killed his girlfriend and then died by suicide. Totally normal project, right!? Well, for Pippa it is. Pippa doesn’t have a strong desire to become a crime scene investigator, or the next high profile defense lawyer. She does have an interest in journalism, but primarily chooses this as her senior project because she just cannot believe that Sal Singh is a murderer. Pippa lives in a small town, and though Sal was older than her, he was nice to her and her friends, and everything she knows about Sal is telling her he is not the killer.

As Pip’s investigation unfolds, including excerpts from her project report, recorded interviews, and text messages and emails, we learn more about the night that Andie Bell disappeared, and the secrets that were lost forever when Sal died by suicide. Pip also finds an unlikely ally in Sal’s brother, Ravi. Red herrings and misdirects abound in this story, and it is a perfect read for anyone who loves true crime podcasts! Pip and Ravi have a natural chemistry, and the action ramps up as Pip gets closer to discovering the truth about the murder of Andie Bell. Pip is instantly likeable, and the intelligence of her character and her ability to see things others can’t is done in such a believable way. This mystery flows so organically that one can’t help thinking they are listening to a real account.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is a perfect book for an audio medium. One reason is because this story reads so much like a true crime podcast, as Pip is interviewing many different people and also because she narrates the information she is collecting and inputting into her senior report. She basically outlines the facts of the case, those that are known and those that she discovers through her own investigation. 

Another reason the book is perfect as an audiobook is because author Holly Jackson utilizes recorded phone and in-person interviews to reveal the plot. Recorded phone conversations are very casual and sound impromptu, like an actual recorded phone call. The same can be said of the recorded in-person conversations. Both have noises in the background. For example, you can hear the click of the recorder and Pip’s pencil writing. There’s even a few text conversations in the story, and those include button clicks in the background and a send message “swoosh” noise. What I liked most, however, is that you can also hear the other performers interacting as they would in character to the questions that Pip is asking: angry, offended, shaky, hesitant, anxious, and with a tremble in their voices. 

What lends the most authenticity to this production, however, is Bailey Carr’s performance of Pip. Through the recorded interviews she makes natural conversation sounds: gasps when she learns something surprising, uses um’s and hmm’s and uhhmm, and uses empathetic oohs to fill in the space between talking. Pip’s character voicing is also very engaging. She is very factual and that comes across in her tone: it is very even and easy to listen to. When the action ramps up, it never gets too overdone, and I think this helps a lot for the listener to understand how all the clues come together.

I would highly recommend picking up the audiobook production of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, especially for anyone who is a fan of true crime podcasts. It’s pretty early in the year, but this is definitely a contender for one of the best productions, in my opinion. If nothing else, you will have a treat for your ears as you listen to an edge-of-your-seat murder mystery!

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, by Holly Jackson, narrated by Bailey Carr, Marisa Calin, Michael Crouch, Gopal Divan, Robert Fass, Kevin R. Free, Sean Patrick Hopkins, Carol Monda, Patricia Santomasso, Shezi Sardar, Amanda Thickpenny and a full cast. 10 hours, 53 minutes. Listening Library, 2020.

Colleen Seisser is the Collection Services Manager at the Aurora Public Library in Aurora, IL. She is a current Board Member at Large on the YALSA Board of Directors and she also reviews audiobooks for Booklist Magazine. Colleen attributes ramping up her obsession with audiobooks from serving in various roles on YALSA’s Amazing Audiobooks for Young Adults Committee from 2012-15. She has been listening non-stop since then! When not listening, Colleen is either crafting, gardening, or jammin’ on her planner!  @colleenTS81

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