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Abandoned by Booklikes

Government drone by day and book lover and geek girl by night!

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Enough to Turn You Off True Crime

Two can keep a secret  - Karen  M. McManus

I didn't like the two leads (Malcolm and Ellery) and the whole book really showcases why a lot of true crime fans like Ellery suck. They don't really care about the victims of a crime, they just want to play amateur sleuths and think they can find the guilty party. That said, there was not really anything suspenseful in this read. I was bored from beginning to end. Even though this is a Young Adult mystery novel, the actual mystery part should make sense and be intriguing. I maybe laughed in a disbelieving way when the guilty party is finally identified. Maybe I have read too much Christie, Penny, Rule, and other books to find this one gripping. 


"Two Can Keep a Secret" follows Ellery and her twin brother Ezra as they relocate to Echo Ridge, Vermont to live with their grandmother. Through a long and tedious explanation, readers find out that Ellery's mother Sadie is a twin as well, though her twin sister went missing. And Echo Ridge has had a lot of missing and or murdered people through the years. You would think this would be off-putting to a teenager, but Ellery is a professed true crime fan and wants to find out what happened to her aunt and to a neighbor's daughter who was found killed. 


Malcolm is dealing with a new step-dad and step-sister after his mother remarries. He's a bit of an outsider since his brother Declan is still a suspect in his long time girlfriend Lacey's murder. Ellery and Malcolm slowly become friends though Ellery mistrusts him and thinks he could have something to do with another murder that occurs in Echo Ridge.


The only thing that made me laugh a bit is that Ellery is actually terrible at true crime. Reading books does not make one a sleuth people. I just hated though how she's painted at salivating over details of young girls who went missing or were murdered. I love true crime books, but I love those books who focus on the victims and get into their lives and not just become a case of let's focus on who I the author thinks is the main suspect. I have actually gone off some true crime podcast since they seem to bask in the salacious details and not even really care about the victims. 


Malcolm was just there. He harbors a mistrust of everyone around him (his step-father and step-sister) and due to being influenced by Ellery, starts to wonder if his brother is a killer. 

We have other characters in this one (Ellery's grandmother, Malcolm's step sister, his brother Declan, Officer Rodriguez, etc.) and a reveal about one of them that made me go are you serious. No spoilers, but I maybe went why and started to think about DNFing the book at this point. A lot of the characters though are so cookie cutter it's not even funny. 


The writing was so-so. I think shifting the narratives between Ellery and Malcolm didn't help things in the end. I kept getting whiplash trying to follow just one thing. Telling this from Ellery's POV alone would have been fine and maybe could have upped the suspense with Ellery wondering who in Echo Ridge should she trust. Instead we had some weird romance thing start and I was just baffled by it. I found myself longing for a Christopher Pike book to clean my palate.

The flow was terrible. I blame it on the book bouncing back between Ellery and Malcolm. The chapter headings would tell you who was "speaking" and the date too so that was fun (heavy sarcasm) especially when I realized that a couple of days had suddenly gone by in the other character's POV. 


The setting of Echo Ridge, Vermont needed more substance. With everything going on there, the place felt blank to me. It's not like I needed a "Fear Street" or anything, but geez, I yawned through most of this book. I grew up in a small town, this place needed more to make it come alive to me as I was reading. 


The ending was a hard shrug to me. It was a total cop-out and then we had things being explained to one of the characters about what happened and I just rolled my eyes again. The last lines I think were supposed to evoke a spine tingling feel as a reader and I maybe just went good lord Ellery's a drama queen.