Friday, January 20, 2012

The Girl Is Murder

The Girl Is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines
Roaring  Brook Press, 2011
342 pages
YA; Mystery; Historical Fiction
3.5/5 stars

Source: Library

I love the cover for this, as it immediately conjures up a historical mystery for me. This one is set in 1942 New York City, with a young girl and her injured private detective father (lost his leg at Pearl Harbor).  Beyond references to the war and topical events like the zoot suits beatings, the most obvious reference to the time period was the slang. There was a lot of slang, which was a little jarring with how much is peppered through the novel but still easy enough to understand.

Obviously the war plays a huge role. Most of the characters have at least one relative serving or who has served and the uncertainty about their fates hangs over them; food and cloth is rationed and the draft is about to be implemented which will call up most of the young men at the main character's school. I really enjoyed all of these elements as they painted a vivid picture and created a great world. I felt immersed.

What I didn't like was the main character Iris, who starts the book out okay. She's worried about her father and his ability to pay the rapidly piling up bills; she's missing her dead mother; she's scared about starting at a public school after years at a tony private girls school; she seems pretty normal. As the book progressed though, she grated on me. She lied and lied and lied and continually acted in ways that she knew were wrong! She was also a bit of a snob in her transition from private to public school, although the quality of her education definitely decreased.

The other characters were a mix of fun and annoying. They definitely had suspicious qualities and they also had their own changes in personality, with lying, wrong-doing, and double-crossing. They were not nice people. The only characters I liked were the adults, Iris's father and Mrs. Mrozenski, who owns the place where Iris and her father are lodging. She is an immigrant who gives Iris space but does care for her.

I did not solve the mystery and actually ended up a little confused with all of the players involved and their twisted motivations and actions. But I think there is the possibility for more stories in this mystery setting and hopefully Iris will have learned her lesson and behave more correctly.

Cover: Beautiful-love her hair! However it does remind me of some other YA covers so perhaps it isn't exactly distinct enough.


  1. I absolutely LOVE this cover too! <3 I have this huge thing for mysteries right now, and the setting and war aspect of this book sound so cool! :) But the fact that the Iris lies so much makes me wince -- I think that's my biggest pet peeve with a main character, and it's always worse when it ruins a book for you!

    Still, thank you so much for the awesome honest review, B! It never ceases to amaze me how you can make me wary yet completely intrigued by a book at the same time! :)

  2. The cover really reminds me of Judy Blundell's books. Not sure I will be reading this one because I hate it when the main character is someone unlikable who lies all the time (the reason I never bothered to read Liar by Justine Larbalestier even though it received so many good reviews). Thank you for your review!


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