Ok so Two Can Keep A Secret was EXCELLENT and exactly what I want a thriller to be!
Usually I’m tentative about thrillers and One of Us Is Lying, while I admire it for being super-famous, it didn’t click for me. However this one?! Miiiiine. It had the small town vibes, an autumn-y Halloween aesthetic, and siblings dynamics that I adored. It took time to develop the characters and there was muuuuurder. Obviously. It is literally a murder mystery. But someone must be Captain McObvious here and I volunteer.
And no joke: I obsessed over solving the case whenever I wasn’t reading! I was invested!
Thank you to Penguin Australia for the review-copy! This was out January 8, 2019!
➸ I really cared about the characters!
That’s what I want out of a book ok. Make me CARE. (Which is hard with my stone cold little rock of a heart.) But the book balanced unwinding this twisty murder mystery AND developing both the narrators (Ellery and Malcolm) into dimensional and complex humans who need a hug several times during the course of the book. Or two hugs, in Malcolm’s case. Kid had it rough.
✧ Ellery: She just moved to Echo Ridge (while her mum is in rehab) and she and her twin brother, Ezra, are staying with their estranged grandma. Ellery has a bushel of curly hair, possibly Latinx complexion (her dad is unknown), and a deep love of murder mysteries. Her brother is the chill sweetheart who frequently has to say things like: “NO MURDER BEFORE BREAKFAST, ELLERY.” And I loved them so much. (I wish Ezra had been more developed though. He’s queer, but his storyline is just a sliver.)
✧ Malcolm: His older brother is the aggressive epic jock dude, who was heavily suspected in his girlfriend’s murder several years ago. Never arrested. But Malcolm lives in that shadow, despite his mum having remarried this rich flashy lawyer and now Malcolm’s actual step-sister is like the QUEEN BEE of highschool which gets Malcolm a little school cred. (He also plays IN THE BAND so like…not that much cred.) Malcolm is a little nerdy and dorky and Soft™. I absolutely adore how his relationship with Ellery was really slow-burn, despite the shortness of the book. Also he has an epic platonic relationship with Mia and they are!! so nice !!! (Mia is also Korean-American and the book discusses how it feels to be part of a minority in an overly white town.)
I lowkey suspected Malcolm of murder at one point but like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ I SUSPECTED EVERYONE. SUREFIRE WAY TO BE RIGHT AT THE END.
➸ The plot had me super invested.
I think because I cared about the characters so easily! I wanted to know if these string of missing-girls was connected. It reminded me of Sadie when they called out how missing girls need to be taken seriously, not just called a statistic. It’s twisty and there’s lots of theories with Ellery playing detective (but she’s not obnoxious about it). I called one of the twists about her mother’s past! I’M PRACTICALLY SHERLOCK. Nevermind that I was so wrong about the actual murderer. Lmao. Minor detail.
➸ I do confess I (a) got confused with all the characters, and (b) it didn’t chill me to my bones.
Honestly they’re such small complaints anyway! I felt like this was a Quiet Murder Town (shh that’s now a thing) and I didn’t actually have my heart in my mouth for Ellery’s safety. But I still WANTED TO KNOW so that’s a win. And hey I’m just generally bad at names and there are SO many characters here. And everyone just had these very common-American-names like LIZ, SARAH, MIA, DAISY, BROOKE, OH HELP ME.
It was really satisfying. I just wanted to keep reading and find out all the answers. Sure I didn’t get goosebumps, but I had a thoroughly good time investing in the characters and this odd little town of Echo Ridge. It felt like a sinister contemporary, full of autumn leaves and family secrets, with a background of murderrrr. Perfect.
Ellery’s never been to Echo Ridge, but she’s heard all about it. It’s where her aunt went missing at age sixteen, never to return. Where a Homecoming Queen’s murder five years ago made national news. And where Ellery now has to live with a grandmother she barely knows, after her failed-actress mother lands in rehab. No one knows what happened to either girl, and Ellery’s family is still haunted by their loss.
Malcolm grew up in the shadow of the Homecoming Queen’s death. His older brother was the prime suspect and left Echo Ridge in disgrace. His mother’s remarriage vaulted her and Malcolm into Echo Ridge’s upper crust, but their new status grows shaky when mysterious threats around town hint that a killer plans to strike again. No one has forgotten Malcolm’s brother-and nobody trusts him when he suddenly returns to town.
Ellery and Malcolm both know it’s hard to let go when you don’t have closure. Then another girl disappears, and Ellery and Malcolm were the last people to see her alive. As they race to unravel what happened, they realize every secret has layers in Echo Ridge. The truth might be closer to home than either of them want to believe.
And somebody would kill to keep it hidden.