Killing Rachel: The Murder Notebooks by Anne Cassidy

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Killing Rachel: The Murder Notebooks by Anne Cassidy

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Second in this interesting series - two teens, an "episode" mystery, and an overall arc of disappearing parents. Cassidy manages all the elements really well and we loved the character development here. Original and enjoyable stuff.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 336 Date: March 2013
Publisher: Bloomsbury
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1408815516

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Rose's mother and Josh's father - both members of the police cold case squad - have been missing for more than five years now. Although their bodies were never found, the authorities have always insisted that they are probably dead. But in the first book in this series, the step siblings find information that suggests Kathy and Brendan are still alive. So Rose, Josh and friend Skeggsie are pursuing every lead they have - including trying to decipher the cryptic notebooks they have discovered.

But then Rose's attention is dragged away by strange and desperate messages from Rachel, an old school friend. Rose and Rachel did not part on good terms, so Rose ignores the pleas for help. And then comes the terrible news that Rachel is dead. Wanting to understand exactly what happened, Rose goes to her old school while Josh heads to the coast to check out a lead on their parents. Could it be that both trips will provide another piece of the puzzle surrounding the disappearance of Kathy and Brendan?

I really enjoyed this second story in Cassidy's Murder Notebooks series. The mystery of Rachel's death gradually unfolds and it reveals a great deal about Rose, our central character. The friendship between the two girls was not a healthy one - one girl reserved but needy and the other damaged but volatile. As Rose tries to find out what happened to Rachel, she's forced to re-evaluate the past and look at herself more clearly than is at all comfortable. At the same time, she's dealing with her deepening feelings for Josh, feelings which seem inappropriate somehow, even though they are not blood relatives. Josh is the one moving the overall arc for the series forward. I don't want to say too much about that for fear of spoilers, but suffice it to say that things get very interesting!

It's an absorbing read - tense but unhurried and rather claustrophobic at times. All the characters are well-drawn, but Rose is particularly credible and interesting. She's far from perfect but she's had an awfully tough time and you do feel for her. And the whole thing feels fresh and original. So we're recommending it to anyone looking for something a little bit different.

Make sure you read the first book in the series before you start on Killing Rachel. You might also enjoy Quarry by Ally Kennen or Wasted by Nicola Morgan.

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