Title: Killing Rachel
Author: Anne Cassidy
Series: The Murder Notebooks #2
Genre: YA Mystery
Received for Review from Netgalley
Summary (from Goodreads)
Rose’s mother and Joshua’s father have disappeared. Police inquiries have gone nowhere and the case, it seems, is closed: Rose and Joshua have been told that the police believe their parents are dead. But Rose and Joshua still hold out hope that they are alive. Joshua is determined to follow up his own inquiries, which includes working out the meaning of the cryptic notebooks – the murder notebooks – they have discovered. Then Rose is distracted by odd, desperate messages she receives from Rachel, a former best friend from her school, followed by the terrible news that Rachel is dead. But perhaps Rachel’s death will provide one more piece of the puzzle about what has happened to Rose and Joshua’s parents . . .
When I picked up Killing Rachel, I didn’t realise that it was a second in a series. In fact, I had no idea until I came to write this review and saw that it was #2. There isn’t much in the opening that gives any indication that things have come before it, but I say this because it might go some way to explain why I found it so difficult to get into this book.
I’ve been picking at this a few pages at a time for weeks, not really settling into it and getting through it at any rate until I was more than 50% through. The opening seemed to really drag its feet, and I found it difficult to engage with either of the two mysteries because there just wasn’t any excitement involved. Working towards solving the mysteries involved lots of talking to people and reading books and not doing a great deal.
It didn’t help that I found Rose horribly unengaging. She was aloof and cold, even towards Joshua, who she was supposed to love. On the one hand, I could sort of understand it – she’d lost her mother, and it’s later revealed that she had some difficult times at school. But at the same time, when Rachel cried to her for help, she was cold and dismissive of her, and didn’t say anything to anyone about it until much later, by which time it was too late. (Not a spoiler – it’s in the title.) While it’s believable, it doesn’t make for the sort of character you want to spend any time with.
When action started taking place, things did pick up a bit, but answers were once again discovered by talking and reading, which sapped any momentum out. And I realised when I got to about 75% through that there was no way that the central mystery of Rose and Joshua’s parents would be wrapped up. Which in itself isn’t a problem, but combined with the slow pace of this instalment, it’s disappointing to think that I’d have to read at least one more book to find answers. And given that there’s a book that comes before this one, and the mystery of the parents is barely getting started, it just feels like it’s a book worth of story being unnecessarily dragged out into a series.