I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Suddenly a Murder by Lauren Muñoz
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers on September 5, 2023
Pages: 320 •Format: E-ARC •Source: NetGalley
Seven friends throw a 1920s-themed party, where it's all pretend--until one of them is murdered.
Someone brought a knife to the party.
To celebrate the end of high school, Izzy Morales joins her ride-or-die Kassidy and five friends on a 1920s-themed getaway at the glamorous Ashwood Manor. There, Izzy and her friends party in vintage dresses and expensive diamonds--until Kassidy's boyfriend turns up dead.
Murdered, investigators declare when they arrive at the scene, and now every party guest is a suspect. There's the girlfriend, in love. The other girl, in despair. The old friend, forlorn. The new friend, distressed. The brooding enigma. And then, there's Izzy--the girl who brought the knife.
To find the killer, everyone must undergo a grueling interrogation, all while locked in an estate where, suddenly, the greatest luxury is innocence.
I love a good thriller, and the elements of this novel having a Latinx protagonist and a 1920s themed party had me instantly sold from the synopsis!
Protagonist Izzy goes on a graduation trip thrown by her very privileged BFF, Kassidy, at a famous estate owned by an eccentric mogul that served as the setting of many of their favorite silent film era movies. It gave me MAJOR Heart Castle vibes (a landmark on the Central Coast of California that was owned by William Randolph Hearst who threw parties that were rumored to have inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Gatsby parties). The themed week of high school shenanigans takes a dark turn when one of the 7 guests turns up dead, leading to a literal murder mystery party. The rest of the week is spent with the 6 teens trapped on the island amidst a storm, being interrogated by two detectives.
At first, it seems obvious (almost too obvious) as to who the killer is going to be. I was honestly almost confused as to where the story was going to go because it seemed so on the nose. However, as the story unraveled, it becomes clear that each character has a pretty compelling motive (which is the mark of good mystery writing, IMO). While dealing with the anxiety of the police interviews and wondering who will get caught (and for what, as many of the characters are hiding one thing or another), Izzy also struggles with her own feelings of inadequacy and vulnerability next to her peers who will have access to unlimited funds and resources once they return to the protection of their wealthy parents back on the mainland.
With any good thriller I am hoping for a twist or two at the end, especially one that I didn’t see coming. While I eventually guessed the identity of the killer, this book took a some really unexpectedly dark turns, not just with the motive behind the murder, but with some other secrets that led up too and boiled over into a motive for the murder. While shocking and compelling, I’m not sure if I found there were adequate breadcrumbs for it to really make sense to the reader- some of the twists, while interesting and shocking, seemed to really come out of left field for me.
Overall: Thematically lush and with some surprising twists and turns at the end, Suddenly a Murder managed to surprise me! While I found some of the reveals at the end a little far-fetched, it was a quick and atmospheric read that scratches the itch for a YA mystery.