Recommended Reads: Murder Mystery

Murder mysteries have long been a popular genre. Names such as Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes have made waves in popular culture, and the ‘who-dun-it’ is a well versed trope. This popularity ultimately means it’s increasingly difficult to write an original and exciting murder mystery.

Whether as a result of an original plot, well developed characters or shocking plot twists, these murder mysteries all have something going for them. Maybe you could pick one of these up if you’re looking to give your brain a bit of a challenge.

I am quite new to the murder mystery genre, so this is just a few of the ones I have read and loved so far!


The Seven deaths of evelyn hardcastle

By: Stuart Turton
Quick summary: A whodunnit murder mystery on steroids
Rating: ★★★★☆

I previously reviewed this book (check it out here) after I got it at one of Mr B’s Emporium’s Reading Spas.

Throughout the book you follow the main character Aiden Bishop through 8 bodies over 8 days as he tries to uncover who murdered a woman called Evelyn Hardcastle at a party in her family home. Every day he wakes up and at the end of every day the same thing happens: Evelyn Hardcastle dies. The only way to end this fatal cycle is for Aiden to figure out who killed her.

The reason this book is so exciting is that the protagonist has no idea what’s going on, and so you uncover secrets and have realisations at the same time that he does. The structure, undeniably, is confusing at first, but stick with it – the beauty of the book is being confused until the end when everything comes together in a wonderful ‘lightbulb’ moment.

If you’re into Agatha Christie, this is one for you.

one of us is lying

By: Karen McManus
Quick summary: Who knew the psychotic inner workings of a teen mind ran so deep.
Rating: ★★★★★

I read this book as part of a buddy-read with Hanne, and I raced through it way quicker than intended because it really was a can’t-put-down book.

In this YA murder mystery, five students go into detention and only four walk out alive. The four remaining students, Cooper, Addy, Bronwyn and Nate, are catapulted into the limelight as prime suspects in the murder of their fellow student. We follow all four of them throughout the school year as secrets are revealed, and the circumstances of the murder grow murkier and murkier.

The thing I love about this book is that you can’t trust the narrator. We switch between the POV’s of the four teenagers throughout, and the secrets they keep run so deep that they don’t even let the reader know them. This really adds a fantastic dimension to the book, because it means the reader is a participant in the murder mystery as much as the characters are.

This book was such an easy one to get into, and the writing is incredibly easy to read, so if you’re in a reading slump or don’t read much then this one is for you.

A study in charlotte

By: Brittany Cavallaro
Quick summary: The refresh the Holmes legacy needed
Rating: ★★★★☆

Jamie Watson has just received a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. He hates his father, and hates Sherringford. However, it gets more complicated when he meets Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight a Sherlock Holmes story, Jamie and Charlotte can’t afford to keep their distance from each other. They are being framed for murder.

I love a story in which the protagonist is being framed (one of the reasons why I loved One of Us is Lying so much.) This book is full of high stakes, confused teen feelings and real-life legal consequences (something that is sometimes missing in murder mysteries.)

If you love the Holmes stories, or are new to murder mystery, then this is the one for you!

and more…

If you particularly enjoy YA murder mystery, then check these out…

Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson

Shortly after Ellingham Academy opened, the wife and daughter of the founder were kidnapped. The only real clue was a mocking riddle listing methods of murder, signed with the frightening pseudonym “Truly, Devious.” It became one of the great unsolved crimes of American history.

True-crime aficionado Stevie Bell is set to begin her first year at Ellingham Academy, and she has an ambitious plan: She will solve this cold case. But then Truly Devious makes a surprise return, and death revisits Ellingham Academy. The past has crawled out of its grave. Someone has gotten away with murder. 

S.T.A.G.S – M.A Bennett

Greer MacDonald is struggling to settle into the sixth form at the exclusive St Aidan the Great boarding school, known to its privileged pupils as S.T.A.G.S.
To her surprise Greer receives a mysterious invitation to spend the half-term weekend at a country manor with the wealthiest students. Over the three days, they all go hunting, shooting and fishing – but things become increasingly dark and twisted. Soon, Greer comes to the horrifying realisation that those being hunted are not wild game, but the very misfits Henry has brought with him from school.

REVIEW: Delirium (series)

Full synopsis of
Delirium (1), Pandemonium (2), and Requiem (3)

Quick summary: The world the book is set in is interesting, but didn’t fully capture me.

Rating: ★★★

This has spoilers – sorry!



To be fair to this series, I did read it after I had just finished the ACOTAR series, which probably means I didn’t give it enough love and attention as it deserved because I was hung up on everything Sarah J Maas. MAJOR BOOK HANGOVER! The writing itself was good and Lauren Oliver created a believable and interesting world, but it just didn’t grab me and make me fall in love with the characters, plot or writing and for this reason I can’t rate it as highly as other books.

The plot of the series was quite well developed and it did become more interesting as the series progressed. I thought the strengthening of Lena’s character and resolve as she fought back against her repressive society was good because Lauren Oliver could easily have left her as a wet, drippy character but she didn’t. The introduction of new characters (such as Julian) in the sequels was also welcome because it moved the plot along and made Lena a more three dimensional character, as we see how she responds to new characters. However, I think there was definitely room for more psychologically complex insight in a lot of this series and following novels such as Shatter Me and ACOTAR in my reading list, I particularly noticed this. Things such as the development of the relationship between Lena and Julian, the grief she feels when Alex reappears and the panic of needing to find her family could, in my opinion, have been further explored. I found it anticlimactic (spoiler!) that at the end of the series she just easily slipped back into a relationship with Alex even though when he came back at the beginning of the second book he told her he didn’t love her and basically started a relationship with someone else. This was perfectly satisfactory, but it left me feeling a bit disappointed at the end of the series.

Character-wise, these books did have interesting characters with different motives and backstories that ultimately added to the depth and enjoyment of the novels. All of the protagonists had something that had happened to them which ultimately made it more compelling to read about them – this is definitely one of Oliver’s strong points. She is good at fabricating the world and personalities within the novels which does incite you to keep reading because you are genuinely interested in what happens to the characters. This is supported by the writing style, particularly in the 3rd book, where Oliver switches between character’s points of view, or points in time (from the past to the present and vice versa.) I didn’t think I would like this writing style, but I ended up finding it a good way to get insight into all of the characters and their thoughts and emotions, which is something you can’t do from a singular 1st person narration.

Overall, these books are generally good, and someone else might enjoy them way more than I did, but I just found them to be a disappointment following other series I read recently. I think the highlight of the series was probably the writing style which had lovely imagery and structure, but there were some aspects of complexity that were missing for me, which dampened my enjoyment.

Rosie x

REVIEW: Shatter Me (series)

Full synopsis of Shatter Me, Unravel Me and Ignite Me

Quick summary: Slow starter, but once I got into it I did enjoy it.
Rating: Shatter me – 5/10
Unravel me – 7/10
Ignite me – 8.5/10

THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS, SORRY!

Full synopsis of
Shatter Me (1), Unravel Me (2), and Ignite Me (3)

Quick summary: Slow starter, but once I got into it I did enjoy it.
Rating: Shatter me – ★★
Unravel me – ★★★★
Ignite me – ★★★★



THIS CONTAINS SPOILERS, SORRY!

Just before I start, this series review is only for Book 1, 2 and 3 of the series (i.e Shatter Me, Unravel Me, Ignite Me.) All of the other spinoffs and the new Restore Me might come up in a later review, or I might re-edit this one, but for the moment it’s just going to be the original series.

This is a series I was majorly conflicted about when I first started reading it. I really wasn’t sure about the writing style, which was modern, and seemed to ramble slightly. However, I had bought all three books as a set and so wanted to persevere so as to feel like I hadn’t wasted my money, like the tight stingy person I am. I am glad I did this because the books did keep improving and I was hooked by the third book.

I found character development to be the strongest part of Mafi’s writing in these novels. Part of the reason I didn’t like the first book was that the characters were not three dimensional enough for me. Although Juliette and Adam each had interesting back stories, I found their immediate love story cliche and honestly quite boring. However, as the second and third books unfolded, I started to become really invested in the characters, particularly as Juliette began to understand herself more, and her relationships with Warner and Kenji began to develop. I loved the relationship between Juliette and Warner; I really like how Mafi gives us insight into the ‘evil’ character. This development of Warner from a psychopath to a genuine man who had a really difficult childhood was so refreshing and interesting. I think it was the psychology behind Warner’s character that kept me hooked on the books – I’m really glad Mafi took this plot path for the trilogy, or I would not have enjoyed it anywhere near as much.

In terms of the plot, I think that there were fascinating twists and turns which made these books different from other YA novels. The relationship between Warner and Juliette was a particularly strong plot point, as it allowed for character development of Juliette, Warner and Adam. Although I would not describe these novels as having been a page turner for me, I do think that they were interesting and the world in which they were set was well constructed.

The third book, Ignite Me, was, for me, the strongest book of the trilogy. By the time I got to the third book I was invested in the world because it had grown on me as the series progressed. It was somewhat repetitive, as certain phrases (such as “I swallow, hard”) were used lots throughout, and this started to annoy me towards the end. Having said this, I did get used to the writing style and there were captivating aspects. I liked that as Juliette became disenfranchised with Adam, the reader began seeing his flaws and failings, inviting us to make a more weighted judgement on him; equally, as she became more infatuated with Warner, he became kinder and sweeter in our eyes as well.

Ultimately, although I did like these books by the end of the series, I feel like had I not bought them as a trilogy then I might not have gone further than the first book. I do think they are worth reading if you want to read a series, because they are psychologically interesting and there is good character development, but for me they were a slow starter and did not immediately captivate me. It was definitely the character of Warner that made these books.

Also, side note, I really like the covers and the books are that satisfying floppy kind, which is really nice.

Rosie x