Tuesday, August 14, 2012

"Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls" by Mary Downing Hahn

Release Date: April 17, 2012
Publisher: Clarion Books          
Pages: 330

From Goodreads: "Based on an actual crime in 1955, this YA novel is at once a mystery and a coming-of-age story. The brutal murder of two teenage girls on the last day of Nora Cunningham's junior year in high school throws Nora into turmoil. Her certainties, friendships, religion, her prudence, her resolve to find a boyfriend taller than she is - are shaken or cast off altogether.

Most people in Elmgrove, Maryland, share the comforting conviction that Buddy Novak, who had every reason to want his ex-girlfriend dead, is responsible for the killings. Nora agrees at first, then begins to doubt Buddy's guilt, and finally comes to believe him innocent - the lone dissenting voice in Elmgrove.

Told from several different perspectives, including that of the murderer, Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls is a suspenseful page-turner with a powerful human drama at its core."

When I first received this book to read and review I was extremely excited- this being a different sort of book that I read (a historical fiction rather than a contemporary paranormal). I had hoped that that this book would be the one- the one that could convince me to pick up more books of this nature. However, unfortunately that was not the case.

My largest complaint about this book was that I found the characters to be far too boy-obsessed, especially in the first quarter of the book. In the first quarter of the book there was very few, if any, pages where the girls didn't discuss boys in some manner- from their looks, to their personalities, to declaring their undying love for them. Furthermore, it was a fair bit difficult to keep trap of the characters during this part because couples were continuously changing- a girl growing bored with a boy, dropping him, and having a new one in no time at all. As a result I found the characters to be a bit more juvenile than I would have liked them to have been.

Additionally, I didn't find the emotions of this book to be quite as developed as I would have liked- I didn't have any real impact when Cheryl and Bobbi Jo were murdered. As such I found the plot to be quite monotone and overall fairly unmemorable.

That being said, while at first I was admittedly turned off with the ending, being displeased with the fact that it didn't provide all of the answers I wanted and that I didn't feel that justice was served, I do like it more and more as time passes as I believe it to be wholly unexpected, and, without a doubt, unlike any other ending I have encountered in a YA book before.

Furthermore, I did quite like Buddy, the supposed 'villain' of the book (according to the residents of Elmgrove)- I found him to be the most developed of all of the characters and I couldn't help but feel for him- he was truly an underdog and a character that I am sure that countless others will fall for.

All in all, while this book was not quite my cup of tea I do believe that fans of historical fiction thrillers/ mysteries will thoroughly enjoy this book.

Rating: 6.5/10

I received this book from the publisher to read and review. I was not compensated for said review in any way.


  1. Hmmmm yah I think this one might be one of those quieter reads that you have to kind of think about and reflect on... which can be a good thing, but it takes a certain mood to read about I think.

    Also, have you read the Mary Quinn/Agency books by Y.S. Lee?? They're historical mysteries from Victorian times and they are SO much fun. Plus an adorable romance. =)


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