Book Review – As Good As Dead (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Book 3) by Holly Jackson

First published, 2021

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Okay, I’m going to level with you from the get-go: I didn’t realise this was the third in a trilogy when I started reading. Usually, I would start at the beginning of any series but, in some ways, it can be instructive to see if a book can stand alone without the previous episodes.

So, the story follows teenage detective and podcaster, Pip. Growing up in the village of Little Kilton, she has seen more than her fair share of murder and despair and, in order to cope, she has started self-medicating. As far as anybody knows, there’s a serial killer rotting in prison, having gone on something of a spree a few years ago. However, was the right man convicted? And when it all goes horribly wrong, will the wrong man pay for his other crimes?

The writing is dark and stunning. The descriptions are beautifully detailed and the characters burst out from the page. I did struggle a bit to work out who was who in relation to everyone else, but that’s because I started with book 3; I have no doubt about that.

“Death stared back at her. Real death, not the clean idealised version of it; the purpling pockmarked skin of a corpse, and the eerie forever-whitened imprint of a too-tight belt they must have worn when they died. It was almost funny, in a way, Pip thought as she scrolled down the page on her laptop. Funny in the way that if you thought about it too long, you’d go mad. We all end up like this eventually, like these post-mortem images on a badly formatted web page about body decomposition and time of death.”
Page 37, Chapter Five, As Good As Dead (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, Book 3) by Holly Jackson.

It’s always a bit thorny to review a book where the police are incompetent and the criminal justice system horrifically flawed. Depending on personal experience and what we read in the news, it’s either deeply depressing or worryingly cynical. Luckily, the writing saves it from being either. There are important points made throughout the book about the importance of ethics, and how a podcaster with a crime show, or any amateur journalist, can derail or correct a whole investigation.

Although I didn’t always like the main character – I felt she had a big old dose of martyr syndrome – she was very well-written and believable, and I adored her boyfriend. They had some very sweet moments and a delightful shorthand in their interactions. Now, I just need to go back to the start.