Every now and again, I love reading a mystery/thriller much like this one. They tend to be full of tense, edge of your seat action, and honestly make you guess at what’s going on throughout the novel, leading up to this spectacular twist of a conclusion that you never see coming. I read so many thrillers throughout the year, and I can’t resist a new one when I see it.
To Catch a Killer was on my list of must read books the second I heard about it, and I was so lucky to get a copy from Tor Teen for review (thank you!). When I sat down with this book, I didn’t even bother to pace myself while reading it (I like to draw out my reading time sometimes when I read thrillers, because it helps build suspense) – I kind of just started the book and then got lost in it. I read half of it before going to sleep one night, and then finished it as soon as I woke up. It was such a fun book – fast paced and full of clues and all kinds of plot twists that I just couldn’t wait to discover.
“I didn’t just think about my mother’s killer, I obsessed over him. Is he tall? Short? Mean? Nice? Old? Young? He could be any man walking down the street.”
Erin Blake is a common household name. When she was young, her mother was killed, and she was locked in the house, alone with her mother, until she was found. Unfortunately, they never caught her mother’s killer. Because of this, Erin is known by everyone, and people immediately think of the tragedy that she suffered when she was young as soon as they meet her.
Living with her mother’s best friend, Rachel, Erin has grown up without a father and knowing only the basics about her mother – Rachel doesn’t like to talk about her mother, and Erin has no other family. But she does have her best friends – Lysa and Spam – and together the three of them do and talk about everything together.
However, when Erin is at her teacher’s house one night, she comes upon an unfortunate encounter – her teacher has been murdered, and Erin is the one to discover her body. The only other person at the scene is a basketball player at school, Journey.
“Now come the questions, hard and fast. They’ll expect me to have answers. But all I have are more questions.
Beginning with, who killed Miss P?”
Miss P was Erin’s favorite teacher – a teacher who was helping her to uncover some information that she didn’t feel anyone else would help her with. However, now Miss P is gone, and Erin is one of the suspects of her murder, along with Journey. At first, when Journey sees Erin after that night, he’s none too happy – after all, Erin pretty much told the police he was there, and now everyone things Journey killed her. But did he?
Eventually, Erin confronts Journey, learning his side of the story. Much to their dismay, when Erin and Journey decide to team up, Erin’s friends Spam and Lysa aren’t too happy – they feel as if Erin is making rash decisions, especially due to the fact that Erin has had a crush on Journey for years.
As more and more things pop up, including encounters that almost leave Erin dead, she has to try to put the pieces together and find out who the real killer is, and quickly, before the next time when she might not be too lucky.
This book was a really great thriller, and although crime thrillers aren’t typically my thing, I think this book may have changed my mind about feeling that way. It had me trying to piece together the things that were going on to figure out who the killer was.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of hints, and I guessed at who it was quite early in the novel – if you pay careful attention, you might be able to guess as well, but if you don’t read into things as much as I tend to, then you might be in the dark. While I knew exactly who the killer was before I even reached the middle of the book, I still found this to be quite the enjoyable read, and I loved watching Erin, Journey, Spam, and Lysa try to gather evidence and solve the murder the best they could.
While I liked Erin’s character and I thought that her sassy yet smart attitude brought a lot to this book, there was one instance where I found her a little unsettled. Erin spends a lot of time up in her attic, where she has some things that were her mother’s – and at one point in the book, her friends discover a chalk outline on the floor – something that made them all a little uneasy. The weird part was, after that section in the book, the outline isn’t talked about again, and during that chapter, Erin’s character seemed a little bit off from the rest of the book, but then she was fine. It’s hard to explain without giving too much away and ruining the story, but I thought that was kind of…strange. It just seemed out of place and made Erin seem unreliable. But then again, she has dealt with a lot in her life, including the death of her mother and not knowing the identity of her father, so of course she’s going to be grieving in different ways.
This was definitely a well rounded book – with the whole murder investigation going on, there is still time for Spam, Lysa, and Erin to spend time together, and we learn about some neat things that they have going on, such as Cheater Check, a service they provide to the girls at school where they investigate their boyfriends (and the hair or lipstick on their clothes) to make sure they’re faithful. It’s interesting, and really nice to see a main character (and supporting characters) that have plenty of talent and skills that allow them to do this sort of thing. I love strong and driven characters in books, and this one definitely has them.
I loved the ending of this book, too. It all gets wrapped up neatly, so there’s no loose ends hanging around. There’s closure (subtle closure, maybe, but still closure), and I loved that. It made the story feel complete.