Ellery and her twin brother Ezra are moving cross country to live with their grandmother in Echo Ridge while their mother is in rehab. The teens don't know a lot about their mother's hometown other than the fact that their aunt disappeared while she was in high school and five years ago another homecoming queen was murdered. Ellery is a true crime buff and finds herself with a real crime to investigate when a popular teacher is killed by a hit and run on the day they arrive in town. Within days that event is overshadowed by a public threat promising to kill another member of the homecoming court. History seems to be repeating itself when another girl goes missing. Everyone seems to be a possible suspect but Ellery needs to sort it out because the killer is getting closer to her.
I liked McManus' One of Us is Lying but I like this title even more for its traditional hard-core mystery cred. There are red herrings galore and I was as confused as Ellery as to the identity of the villain but the story itself is not confusing, just a fun ride. What's more, I thought I had guessed a plot twist but I was wrong! That hardly ever happens so it is delightful and a mark of some unique plotting when I am fooled. All the characters were fleshed out enough for me to invest in them and to feel mad when they were treated/treated others poorly. If I were to make one complaint it would be that there could've been more breadcrumbs dropped to lead me to the killer's identity. I've read mysteries where the criminal shows up out of the blue having barely even been introduced and that is just unfair to the reader who has no chance to solve the crime. This was not that low, but I did stop for a minute to think about whether I should be angry about the lack of foreshadowing. Instead, I just kept reading because I was so wrapped up in the story that I wanted to see what happened next. But if there are revisions to be done, I'd suggest more hints along the way for the sleuthing readers.