28. February 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Courtney, Mystery, Teen Books

No One Else Can Have You by Kathleen Hale, 380 pages, read by Courtney, on 02/09/2014

Kippy Bushman has lived in Friendship, WI for her entire life. It’s a nice, small, cozy town. The kind of place where everyone goes out of their way to be nice and they’re polite even if they’re upset. Thus it is a considerable shock when Kippy’s best friend, Ruth Fried, is found dead. In a cornfield. Strung up from a tree like a scarecrow. It’s a particularly vicious murder by any town’s standards, but for Friendship, it’s downright unthinkable. The town is paralyzed with the loss. Kippy is given the unsettling task of deciphering Ruth’s terrible handwriting in her journal so that she can redact “the sex parts” for Mrs. Fried’s benefit. Bit by bit, we learn more about Ruth, who, as it turns out, is not a particularly nice person. Kippy is stunned by the terrible things Ruth wrote about her and is left feeling rather conflicted. Ruth was, after all, everything that Kippy was not. Ruth was the party girl; the one who would steal another girl’s boyfriend just for the fun of it. There were plenty of people who weren’t sorry to see Ruth dead, in spite of their crocodile-tear-filled TV interviews to the contrary. The police are so anxious to put the case to rest that they quickly arrest Ruth’s boyfriend and keep him in custody. While Kippy doesn’t like the boyfriend, she is forced to admit to herself that the facts don’t add up. The killer is still out there and it’s very likely that he wasn’t a stranger. Kippy teams up with Ruth’s brother, Davey, and her neighbor, Ralph, to do some investigating of their own, much to the chagrin of the Friendship Sheriff’s department.
I picked this one up because it was billed as a sort of “Fargo-meets-Mean-Girls” premise, but I don’t know if that’s really accurate. It is most definitely a darkly comedic whodunit, so it bears at least some similarity to Fargo (minus the woodchipper, mercifully), but that’s where the similarities end. Honestly, I can’t really compare this to anything else I’ve read; this book takes some very strange turns. I did enjoy Kippy as a character, even if she was a bit hard to relate to. She has a sweet relationship with her father. Many of my favorite characters in this book, however, were introduced very late in the book and left me wishing they’d turned up earlier. While this is relatively straight-forward mystery, the plot takes some very unexpected paths to get there. I kind of wish that the pacing had been more even, but I was reading while on vacation, so my attention may not have been as consistent as usual (which is, of course, my fault and not the book’s). Overall, a very original and darkly humorous twist on the teen murder mystery.

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