112 pages 3 hours read

Holly Jackson

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2019

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Summary and Study Guide

Overview

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is a novel for young adults with elements of mystery and crime. Written by Holly Jackson, it was published in 2019. This study guide refers to the 2019 Delacorte Press hardcopy edition of the novel.

Plot Summary

Pippa “Pip” Fitz-Amobi is a teenager in Fairview, Connecticut. In the summer before her senior year of high school, she is starting to work on her senior capstone proposal project, an investigatory attempt to prove Salil “Sal” Singh’s innocence in the accusation that he murdered Andrea “Andie” Bell and disposed of her body five years prior. Pip teams up with Sal’s younger brother Ravi in her investigation.

The book includes periodic capstone log entries that Pip uses to keep track of information relating to the case. She determines that, based on the known facts of the case, whatever happened to Andie occurred Friday, April 18, 2014, between 10:40pm. and 12:45am. A few days later, after much police scrutiny, Sal was found dead in the woods, presumably having died by suicide—especially after he sent a confession by text, which solidified his guilt in seemingly everyone’s mind but Pip’s.

Through interviews with various people in Andie’s life, Pip learns several facts relating to Andie: She was involved with a secret older man, she bought drugs from a man named Howie Bowers and sold them at house parties, and she bullied a girl named Nat da Silva into dropping out of school. Several suspects also begin to emerge, and all seem interconnected in complex ways. For example, Mr. Ward, Pip’s best friend’s dad and her history teacher, had a tense relationship with Andie; Max has a naked photograph of Andie; and Andie’s car was discovered on Howie Bowers’s street. All the players in the story had opportunity and motive to be involved in Andie’s disappearance.

Throughout the course of her investigation, Pip undertakes many perilous endeavors, such as confronting dangerous characters and going undercover, and she receives several threatening notes warning her to stop her investigation. At one point, Pip’s dog is even kidnapped and found dead when she continues to ignore these warnings.

At the climax of the story, Pip discovers that Mr. Ward was having a secret liaison with Andie, and when Andie became belligerent and threatened to ruin him that fateful night, he attempted to restrain her, and she hit her head on his desk.

Likely concussed, she vanished, and Mr. Ward feared that if she was found, his secrets would be revealed. He therefore framed Sal for her murder and made it appear as though Sal died by suicide. Mr. Ward later spotted a girl he believed to be Andie walking down the road in a confused state. He took her and hid her in the attic of his old home, where she has been for the past five years. Mr. Ward is arrested, but Pip quickly realizes that the girl he has been keeping captive is in fact not Andie Bell but instead someone he confused for her.

After more dogged investigation, Pip determines that Andie’s sister Becca killed her and disposed of her in a septic tank at an old farmhouse. When confronted, Becca attempts to kill Pip, but Pip is saved by Ravi and her father. The novel concludes with Pip’s capstone presentation, in which she turns a finger on the Fairview community for their role in judging Sal before all the facts were out.

The book utilizes the stylistic tool of investigative journalism to help Pip get to the bottom of what actually happened to Andie Bell and Sal Singh. The novel also raises several themes that are interwoven throughout the text, such as public shame, identity, and the danger and deception involved in how far Pip is willing to go to discover the truth.

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