Sooooo….. I have a lot of thoughts. So many thoughts that I wrote a 1,600+ word Goodreads review immediately upon finishing this book, and that’s why today is my first-ever SPOILER REVIEW.
Yes, this review contains major spoilers for this book as well as the previous two books in the series. If you haven’t read them and you intend to, this is your final warning!
(If this is you, though, maybe check out my other reviews for the first two books?)
(I am not responsible for the cringe of my old reviews)
About the Book
Title: As Good As Dead (A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder #3)
Author: Holly Jackson
Genre: contemporary, mystery/thriller
If you read my blog at any time during 2020 you’ve probably stumbled across at least one post in which I raved about this series. I absolutely loved the first two books, and I believe I ranked the first book in my top three books of 2020. So of course I’d been waiting to read this one for about a year and a half, and although I was a bit nervous that my 10th-grade judgement was no longer to be trusted, I finally bought the third installment from B&N and devoured it in a few hours.
Was it as gripping as I remember the other two books being? Yes! Was it as good? Well, I have a lot to say so get ready for a long spoiler analysis. I really enjoyed reading this book, but it is definitely my least favorite of the series and man, did it go in a different direction from the other two.
So, AGAD starts off with Pip in not a very good place. She’s still reeling from Stanley’s death at the end of the second book, she isn’t sleeping and she’s secretly buying sleeping pills from what’s-his-name Luke the drug dealer from the other two books. To make matters worse, she’s being stalked. Someone’s been leaving dead birds and headless chalk figures on her driveway, and messages on Twitter and in her email: “Who will look for you when you’re the one who disappears?”
She goes to the police and they don’t believe her, because this is a YA thriller. She and Ravi continue to investigate, and Pip makes her first mistake. Here’s where my spoiler review is going to start.
So, Pip and Ravi realize that yes, someone is stalking her and they have been right outside her house. They’ve connected to her Bluetooth speakers because they’re so close. They’ve printed through her printer because they’re so close. Yet they decide not to update the police with this information, despite having proof? Yeah, Pip thinks the police won’t believe her because she’s seemingly unstable, but Ravi can corroborate. And when Pip’s whole family was woken up by the metal coming through her speakers… she should have told them what happened.
Not to mention when Pip and Ravi realize that the stalker is probably the DT Killer (don’t ask me why this town has so many serial killers just hanging out in there) who left the same sorts of messages and prank calls for his previous victims. GO. TO. THE. POLICE. WITH. THIS. NEW. SUSPICION. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have that police chief think I’m paranoid than try to sleep at night knowing a killer is watching my house. They know Pip has solved two major mysteries before! They probably somewhat trust her judgement! I can’t imagine they would just brush it off if she presented that article in which it mentioned that the DT Killer had been leaving dead birds and chalk figures for one of his previous victims!
And then the whole Jason Bell thing. I don’t buy it. I just don’t. It very much felt shoe-horned in, and the second they read the Andie Bell email I knew it was him and Pip thinking it was Dan da Silva was just dumb. The Pip we know is smarter than that. But I just don’t buy Jason Bell being the killer… yes it was supposed to be a plot twist, but really there was no indication before that Jason was off. I read the first book a while back, so there might have been something planted, but in the third book there wasn’t. Maybe it’s just the improbability of this town having so many killers in it… but it’s a thriller, I’ll stop.
So Jason Bell is the killer and he’s stalking Pip. Why though? Why her specifically? Why right now? Why did he stop killing people for six years and then start again? Well, I don’t know, but let’s just go with it.
So Pip has very strong circumstantial evidence based off Andie’s email that it was him. Now comes her second huge mistake: not presenting THIS to the police. Yes, the whole point is that she no longer trusts the justice system due to Max Hastings and Billy Karras and Sal Singh yada yada yada but still. Still. Where is your sense of self-preservation, Pip? Show the police the email. Let them at least consider the possibility that she is being stalked by a serial killer. Get a plainclothes policeman to watch her house. Anything logical. But of course, this is still in-character for Pip. She did stuff like this in the previous books.
In a not-very-surprising turn of events, Pip gets kidnapped by Jason and left in the building where he killed the five other women six years ago. He does his villain monologue and confesses to killing Pip’s dog way back in the first book (mwahahahhahaa!) but then he leaves her in there by herself, giving her adequate time to break free and escape.
But then. Here is where things get crazy. Pip is about to leave and go home when she sees Jason come back to the building. So she runs back and kills him. Pip kills someone. Pippa Fitz-Amobi. Okay, okay. So violent murder is a bit out-of-character for Pip, but we know she’s just experienced a very traumatic event and was almost murdered by him, so it is sort of? understandable because we’ve also seen her slowly becoming more and more violent/unstable with the graffiti on Max’s house in the second book, her violent fantasies about him, etc. etc. This has been building up for a while. But then, here is where she makes the worst mistake of all (Well besides killing him) She decides to try to cover it up and involve all her friends in her nefarious plan.
She thinks it won’t be ruled as self-defense because she turned around and came back for him. But the thing is, she was almost murdered and I’m not a lawyer but there could be a self-defense case there. Even if it wouldn’t change the fact that she will face consequences for literally killing someone (again wow, how did she become so morally grey so fast) she’d have a better chance than with what she decided to actually do. Not to mention how much she throws morals out the window despite being such a principled character for the entire rest of the series.
So Pip calls Ravi and asks him to help her cover up the crime scene, and he HAPPILY OBLIGES? What? “Oh of course, my dear sweet girlfriend, you were almost murdered just now and now you need me to help you clean up the crime scene where you just killed this guy? I’ll be right over.”
And then they decide to frame Max Hastings for the whole thing. Which makes no sense. First of all, Ravi. Why would Ravi ever, ever go along with this? Pip I can somewhat rationalize, as we can see how deeply she’s been affected by her previous experiences and how unhinged she has become. She’s already lashed out twice with regard to Max and while first-book Pip probably wouldn’t have, I can see how in the stress of the moment Pip might have the idea to frame Max. But Ravi?
Sal died because he was framed for a murder he didn’t commit. For years the Singhs were ostracized and Ravi was told his brother was a cold-blooded murderer. Only when Pip exposed the truth did they learn Sal’s death wasn’t a suicide, it was the tragic result of someone ELSE framing him.
With this experience, why on earth would Ravi agree to help Pip frame Max? Why would he assist her in becoming just like Elliott Ward, the man who murdered his brother and disgraced his name? I just don’t buy it. It goes against his whole character and backstory.
And of course Pip goes through an entire elaborate plan to cover up her involvement in the crime and incriminate Max Hastings for something he didn’t do, which is just so against everything Pip and Ravi used to stand for, and it just doesn’t make logical sense. Now Pip’s ensnared in this web of lies she created for herself and of course now if one strand breaks she’ll be convicted of something way worse than self-defense. But okay Pip… so you’ve turned into the total anti-hero of your story and made your situation 10x worse in one go.
And how is getting “justice” to Max worth all of this risk? I know the theme is Pip seeking justice outside the legal system and how this has destroyed her, but really. I do not think the audience is supposed to sympathize with Pip, but I’m not sure what the point of the book was overall besides totally destroying these characters we’ve grown to love. And no, Pip, no, framing someone for a murder he didn’t commit is not justice.
The whole aftermath with Pip covering up the story and turning into her evil alter ego was jarring but actually pretty interesting to read. It was disturbing to see the juxtaposition between starry-eyed first book Pip and the podcast she made to expose the truth and now this different Pip and the podcast she made to obfuscate the truth. Thematically it worked, really well. But character-wise, I wasn’t completely on board.
But wow, what a depressing ending. This series really turned around, and I’m still kind of processing it. I miss the Pip I knew and loved from books 1 and 2, but I didn’t ABSOLUTELY hate the direction this book went. I don’t know. Hm. Giving it 3.5-4 for readability because I flew through it in a few hours.
Well, that’s it for my long spoiler rant/analysis. I love this series and these characters, so of course I had a lot to say and I think it warranted a spoiler review.
What did you think of As Good As Dead? What’s your favorite book in the AGGGTM series? Let me know in the comment section!
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