Two Can Keep a Secret, by Karen McManus

After their mother is court-ordered into rehab, twins Ellery and Ezra have moved in with their grandmother in the small town of Echo Ridge, Vermont. It’s a place they’ve never been, as their mother ran from it after her twin sister disappeared 25 years ago. But Echo Ridge holds more than one secret, and the disappearance from so long ago was only the first. More teenage girls have gone missing or are found dead, and there’s a new series of threats aimed at the current sweethearts of the small town school. Ellery and Ezra find themselves wrapped up in the mystery when suddenly Ellery becomes a target as well.

In some mystery novels, particularly ones that follow 90s/00s tropes, the narrator or investigator have a handful of suspects, and each is presented with equal potential to be the culprit. In some, the reader knows the culprit, and reading along as the narrator figures it out. Then there are the mysteries where there are so few hints that the reveal comes seemingly out of the blue. This book is one of this latter type. Now, these mysteries can come across disappointing, if the solution is too sudden or farfetched, but when played right, the surprise hits you perfectly. This was one of those perfectly-done mysteries.

I really enjoyed this story. I don’t read a ton of YA these days, but I thought McManus did a good job balancing the high-drama world of small town high school with the more serious aspects of the book. Neither of the two narrators – Ellery and a town local named Malcolm – were perfect characters. Ellery is deeply into true crime, but has all the wrong instincts. Malcolm makes a lot of really stupid choices, ones he knows are stupid yet can’t help but act on the instinct. There are secrets and mysteries beyond the murders and disappearances, which provide excellent distraction for both reader and characters. The adults in the book aren’t absent or incompetent. All of that made for a good balance and a compelling story.

One really interesting thing: I found the writing to be highly cinematic. A few times, I had to put the book down in order to do other things. Between reads, I’d find myself thinking back to the storyline as if it was a TV show I was watching, rather than a book I was reading. I kept wanting to get back to my show, rather than my book. Maybe it’s because I tend to watch a lot of mysteries in the form of serial shows, I don’t know. But I thought this one would make a really excellent multi-part serial. Then I discovered that 1) another of McManus’ books has already been made into a show, and 2) IMDB has an “in development” entry for this book, though I can’t tell if it’s meant to be a show or a movie. Apparently I’m not the only one who sees this cinematic quality and potential, though!


About Amanda

Agender empty-nester filling my time with cats, books, fitness, and photography. She/they.
This entry was posted in 2023, Prose, Young Adult. Bookmark the permalink.

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