Review Blog

Jan 31 2020

Two can keep a secret by Karen A. McManus

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Penguin, 2019. ISBN: 9780141375656. 327pp. pbk.
Twins Ellery and Ezra must stay with their grandmother in a small town in Vermont, Echo Ridge, near the Canadian border while their mother, Sadie is in rehab following a conviction for crashing her car under the influence of a prohibited drug. They know that the town lies under a cloud. Their mother's babysitter, Melanie had a daughter, Lacy, who was killed five years ago. This is still an unsolved murder and everyone has an opinion about who killed her. And Lacy's boyfriend, Declan leaving soon after her funeral, divided people's opinions.
But on the way to Echo Ridge from the airport, the twins discover a dead body on the road - a popular teacher, victim of a hit and run. Settled in, Ellery begins watching. She is a true-crime buff and wants to know as much as she can about Lacy's murder, and her own aunt's disappearance some twenty five years before.
She and Ezra go to the local fun park, once called Murderland, but after the discovery of Lacy's body there, had its name changed to Fright Park. Here the two apply for part time work.
Declan's brother, Malcolm has never felt comfortable with the burden of being in the same family, and now when things begin to happen again, it is Malcolm who is found at the crime scenes. Graffiti is sprayed at the fund raiser for Lacey, Malcolm found with the spray can in hand. At the cemetery where he and Mia go to put flowers on the teacher's grave, he finds a montage declaring that a third homecoming queen will be killed.
When Ellery plucks up enough courage to ask her Grandmother about her missing aunt, she sees the impact the deaths have had on the people of the community and resolves to uncover the secrets hidden in the town. She and Malcolm follow the clues and almost lose their lives in their endeavours to uncover the truth.
A gripping read, this tightly plotted story has an underbelly of secrets, some reaching back into past history, others more recent, but each obscuring the reality of what is going on. Set at the time of the homecoming ball, the backdrop of life in a school in the USA is illuminating.
McManus is the author of acclaimed, One of us is Lying (2017) where five teens walk into the detention room and only four walk out. A thriller writer, McManus is honing her crime writing skills with these two books and will gain a willing audience.
Fran Knight

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