Jess Choudhary is a pupil at Heybuckle, the most exclusive private school in England. Ex- Alumni have gone on to be significant politicians and journalists. Then a pupil is murdered, and Jess finds herself at the heart of the investigation.
The death of a pupil at such a well renowned school obviously has consequences; especially if, like Jess, your prestigious scholarship is threatened by a dangerously classist schoolboard. The stakes of the plot are ludicrously high because not only does Jess face the threat of an actual murder but everything she’s worked hard for could be taken away. At its core this is a YA mystery in the vein of “A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder” or “One of Us is Lying”, but author Ravena Guron injects it with the poignant themes of elitism and class.
A tone is set in the opening pages which is then twisted in a number of fun and interesting ways.Torrin (16)
She successfully juggles these themes whilst also delivering a compelling murder mystery. I feared that the story might get bogged down in some of the more complex ideas, but the novel remains broad enough that teens aged 14 and up can comfortably enjoy it.
A tone is set in the opening pages which is then twisted in a number of fun and interesting ways. While I felt that some of the clues were a little heavy-handed, especially towards the end, the mystery is wrapped up nicely in the end with some genuine surprises.
At first glance the book may look daunting, 400 or so pages is a big ask for even the most hardy bookworm. But don’t be put off, I absolutely raced through it. In part due to the constantly mounting tension but also because the characters were likeable, and I wanted to see how it turned out for them.
A challenge when reading a murder mystery is keeping all the suspects in your head at once. A good author is able to keep each suspect distinct and memorable, Guron made this even more challenging for herself by setting the story in a school; she needs enough characters that the place feels alive and busy but not too many or the reader may lose track. I’m happy to report that she was successful. Not only does each and every character feel unique (even the side-characters are memorable) but they have goals and motivations outside of the main plot – they’re truly characters and not just plot devices.
The murder mystery genre seems to be having quite the resurgence in both books and film. And This Book Kills is a worthy addition to the pantheon of modern whodunnits.