Title: Nine Liars
Author: Maureen Johnson
Publication: December 27, 2022
Publisher: Katherine Keegan Books
Genre: YA Fiction, Teen, Mystery, Thriller
SYNOPSIS: (From Goodreads)
Senior year at Ellingham Academy for Stevie Bell isn’t going well. Her boyfriend, David, is studying in London. Her friends are obsessed with college applications. With the cold case of the century solved, Stevie is adrift. There is nothing to distract her from the questions pinging around her brain—questions about college, love, and life in general.
Relief comes when David invites Stevie and her friends to join him for study abroad, and his new friend Izzy introduces her to a double-murder cold case. In 1995, nine friends from Cambridge University went to a country house and played a drunken game of hide-and-seek. Two were found in the woodshed the next day, murdered with an ax.
The case was assumed to be a burglary gone wrong, but one of the remaining seven saw something she can’t explain. This was no break-in. Someone’s lying about what happened in the woodshed.
Seven suspects. Two murders. One killer still playing a deadly game.
**A copy of this book was was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.**
Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson was a book I had picked up around its release date to read and could not get into it. I read for a while and tried to get into the book and I just could not do it. So I put it down with hopes of coming back to it. As you can tell based on when this book released, it’s been a while. I wanted to try again and I am so glad that I did. I don’t think I’ve ever come back to a book I couldn’t get into and had it turn into a five star review.
The story follows Stevie and her group of friends as they travel to England to hang out, study, and see Stevie’s boyfriend. But as Stevie gets entangled in solving a murder from 1995, nothing goes as planned. I quite liked the jumping back and forth in this book between current time and 1995. It wasn’t every other chapter and it helped build the backstory just enough without giving away who did the crime. It also gave us a larger insight into the original Nine friends, two of which were murdered in 95. I even quite liked all of Stevie’s friends. There is not a character in the story I really disliked, which says something for Johnson. It’s hard to make me like everyone, honestly; even if I was suspicious of a few of them throughout.
The way Johnson builds tension in this story, not only with Stevie trying to solve the crime, but also with tension building amongst the friend groups and between Stevie and David. There were a few side stories building throughout and I think it gave a bit of depth to this story that allowed it to be very realistic and more relatable to a reader. Life doesn’t just stop because you are trying to solve a crime. Things are still happening in the rest of a person’s world. I loved how Johnson built on that.
This story reminds me a lot of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder in a sense. It’s the same type of book and general vibe, although different stories, of course. I love Holly Jackson and now I love Maureen Johnson. Little did I know that this is book five in this series so, of course, I have already downloaded the other 4 books and have started book one. I cannot wait to see what Stevie and her friends got up to before this. A must read for any mystery/thriller fan, especially if you love that teen detective vibe. A page-turner that you will not be able to put down, guaranteed!