Buy it: Pretty Dead Girls by Monica Murphy
Beautiful. Perfect. Dead.
In the peaceful seaside town of Cape Bonita, wicked secrets and lies are hidden just beneath the surface. But all it takes is one tragedy for them to be exposed.
The most popular girls in school are turning up dead, and Penelope Malone is terrified she’s next. All the victims so far have been linked to Penelope—and to a boy from her physics class. The one she’s never really noticed before, with the rumored dark past and a brooding stare that cuts right through her.
There’s something he isn’t telling her. But there’s something she’s not telling him, either.
Everyone has secrets, and theirs might get them killed.
If mean girls got murderous…
Let me start by saying if “Pretty Dead Girls” by Monica Murphy is any indication of the quality of books that readers will get in 2018, then we are a lucky group. This book had my heart racing and I couldn’t put it down. I tried several times and I kept coming right back because the story stayed with me that intensely.
This story is set in the wealthy, northern California coastal town of Cape Bonita. It’s wealth, beauty, and over-achievement in every corner. This includes the students at Cape Bonita Prep School. The school even has a special group for ten ambitious female students, called the Larks. Unfortunately, the Larks seem to be targeted for a different reason these days.
This story is told primarily from Penelope Malone’s viewpoint. However, we do see glimpses of our killer. Our villain is cold and brutal. The girls of the Larks are ferocious in their pedigrees but this killer could care less. One aspect I really enjoyed about the villain here is how hard it was to figure out who it was. You aren’t entirely sure if this is a male or a female, you never know what time frame in history the characters are talking about. It never becomes confusing, you only become more curious about the killer and their victim and how on earth they got to the position they are currently in.
Penelope is the president of the Larks and has sometimes been called “the queen”. I enjoyed her character a lot and I have to applaud the author for not only having the suspense and action in this story, but the characters were still exceptionally developed. When we initially see Penelope, she’s so rigid and over-extended. She’s got big plans and there is nothing getting in her way. When she sees her friends being rude, she takes it in stride. Seeing her character evolve throughout this story was enjoyable. There was one scene in particular where Penelope snaps back at someone and I admit I quietly cheered her on as I read along.
Penelope isn’t trying to solve the mystery alone, as she ends up teaming up with Cass, a guy from her class. He’s mysterious but it’s not necessarily in a bad boy, scary way. He’s just unknown and somewhat misunderstood. Everyone in town has secrets and Cass happens to know about a lot of them. It was interesting to watch he and Penelope’s relationship grow, as they are not only getting to know each other, but also trying to figure out who the killer is.
If you enjoy Scream Queens, Pretty Little Liars, Riverdale, The Vampire Diaries (there is no paranormal but there is a similar vibe), I think you would love this book. I read this in a day because it was that captivating and I needed to know what happened. A fantastic book; I would definitely read this one again!