The Cousins by Karen M McManus

Around this time last year, I was going to go to an author event with Karen M McManus and Holly Jackson – and then a global pandemic struck. However, that does not stop us enjoying the books these fabulous authors write, so I was excited when ‘The Cousins’ hit the bookshops.

‘The Cousins’ is another great piece of YA fiction. In fact, I feel I have enjoyed this one the most, and I have loved them all. This has all the ingredients you expect from a great thriller – secrets, lies, unknown dark figures and a family mystery. And all this creates a brilliant page-turner (in fact, like all dedicated bookworms, I read past my bedtime because I had to know what happened).

As I always say, I don’t want to give away too much about the book, as it is a thriller. What I will say is that if you have enjoyed the other books from Karen M McManus then you will enjoy this one. I could say so much more but I don’t trust myself not to spoil it. But, please, if you love a YA thriller, go on the adventure with the cousins Aubrey, Milly and Jonah Story.

One of Us is Next by Karen M McManus

January was supposed to involve a book-buying ban – a promise to myself that I would finally clear some of those unread books – however, ‘One of Us is Next’ came out and I had to know what was going to happen next. So, bam – there went my book-buying ban.

‘One of Us is Lying’ was such a great piece of YA fiction, I was so excited to know how the story continued. We returned to Bayview as ‘Truth or Dare’ game appears to have taken hold of the community. Suddely, it appears to end in tragedy. Again the teens of Bayview are brought together to try and work out who ‘Intense Guy’ is and what the connection is to their little community.

The conclusion of this novel is a good one – I was honestly surprised by the outcome but, to me, that is simply the sign of a wonderful mystery book. Yet this is not just about the mystery, it also explores relationships – between family members, peers and strangers – as the friends also establish their place in the world. There was one moment between father and son that even caused me to shed a tear.

This is a well-written tale that should not be defined as a YA novel but also one that adults will enjoy too. I hope there is more heading our way from Karen M McManus as she certainly has a talent for the mystery book.

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M McManus

I was excited when I realised that this novel was hitting the bookshops this year. I had really enjoyed ‘One of Us is Lying’, so could not wait to see what thrilling intrigue there was going to be amongst the pages of this tale.

Stories like this can be difficult to write blog posts about as I do not want to spoil this book for anybody, so I will do my best to share my thoughts.

The small town of Echo Ridge has been the scene of two crimes involving the disappearance of teenage girls, although the crimes have been several years apart. When Ellery and Ezra end up with their grandmother, another disappearance occurs and Ellery’s true crime-loving side leads her to carry out her own investigation – although some mysteries she solves are not the ones she expects.

The is edge-of-your-seat stuff right up until the final line. McManus weaves the tale with mystery and intrigue. You are drawn into it all and you really do want to know what will happen next. Especially as the cast of characters are almost a collection of red herrings in themselves. One minute, like Ellery, you may have one suspect in mind only to be completely thrown off. As with ‘One of Us is Lying’, it is a gripping read; a great one for thriller fans.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus

This was a title that had been intriguing me for a while. I had seen a few people out and about reading it and I had added it to my mental ‘to be read’ list.

So, when I found myself without a book on a recent day trip, this was the book that I picked up – and I am glad that I did. This novel reminded me of the classic crime of the Queen of Mystery, Agatha Christie. The reason I make such a bold statement is because the characters were so well developed throughout the tale. Each appeared to have no or very little connection to each other, yet they are drawn together by the mysterious death of their school mate, Simon. There is also a clever use of ‘secrets’ to help weave the tale as it reaches the conclusion. After all, will they work to protect them or free themselves from their burdens?

Although this is a YA novel that works well as an adult novel, I think those of us a little older than the intended audience may read it with a little nostalgia in their hearts. I felt there was a little nod to all those teen ‘friendship’ groups we loved growing up, such as Buffy and her friends (although this novel has nothing to do with vampires, other than a slight goth character), or those misfit teens we spent detention with in ‘The Breakfast Club.’

So, it you love classic crime and want to be reminded of those ‘popular culture’ teen years, then this is the novel for you.