Secrets are intriguing, until they turn deadly.
Karen M. McManus, author of the NYT Bestseller One of Us is Lying, returns to the genre with the story of Echo Falls, a small town where once a girl goes missing, they tend to never come home. Ellery and Ezra Corcoran have ties to the community: their aunt was one such girl, twenty years ago.
What will this mean when new crimes start again? Vandalism, a new disappearance that might be connected to both Ellery’s aunt and one much more recently. Is it all one big coincidence that this is happening when the Cocoran twins have just moved to town? Ellery’s got a mind for criminal justice and she, along with her twin brother Ezra and local Malcolm Kelly, aren’t going to let things stand by.
Published: 8 January 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Category: Mystery/Young Adult/Contemporary
Echo Ridge is small-town America. Ellery’s never been there, but she’s heard all about it. Her aunt went missing there at age seventeen. And only five years ago, a homecoming queen put the town on the map when she was killed. Now Ellery has to move there to live with a grandmother she barely knows.
The town is picture-perfect, but it’s hiding secrets. And before school even begins for Ellery, someone’s declared open season on homecoming, promising to make it as dangerous as it was five years ago. Then, almost as if to prove it, another girl goes missing.
Ellery knows all about secrets. Her mother has them; her grandmother does too. And the longer she’s in Echo Ridge, the clearer it becomes that everyone there is hiding something. The thing is, secrets are dangerous–and most people aren’t good at keeping them. Which is why in Echo Ridge, it’s safest to keep your secrets to yourself.
Rating: 4 Stars
CW: drug abuse (off page)
Rep: bisexual Korean SC, biracial MC/secondary character (twins) (ambiguous Latinx)
I’ve wanted to read Karen M. McManus’s work for awhile now because I’ve heard good things about her talent for crafting a well written thriller. Like Ellery, I share an interest in criminal justice stories, though I prefer mine to be fictional while her interests like more in the true crime direction.
What I ended up reading in Two Can Keep A Secret made me sure it was worth the wait. McManus’s set up of the town of Echo Ridge was hauntingly familiar to me as someone who lives in a small town, particularly one in the area of New England. From the descriptions of the environment in the late summer and fall to the interactions of townspeople, I thought that the author got the details right for this story. There was one passage in particular when a character talks about how your family, in a town that small, can end up getting known for either the best thing a family member has done or the worst.
Malcolm Kelly knows that better than anyone. One of the main characters in TCKAS, he’s in a tough situation. His brother Declan was the primary suspect when his girlfriend, Lacey, was murdered five years ago. Though there was no evidence, speculation made the family social pariahs. Declan left town while Malcolm & his mother were on the verge of financial ruin until Alicia Kelly (Mom) married Peter Nilsson, one of the richest men in town who “saved” them from social destitution. Malcolm’s step sister, Katrin, doesn’t make things easier with her elitist attitude toward him and his mother.
Ellery Corcoran, the primary main character, has an intense interest in true crime that ends up causing her a lot of trouble when put to the test in her actual life. After she and her twin brother, Ezra, move to her grandmother’s home while their mother is in rehab following a drug induced car crash, she’s stuck in her mom’s hometown with her twin brother, a town with a dark history. Girls tend to go missing and get murdered in Echo Falls. Five years after the last one, someone’s vandalism of the local cultural center promises an anniversary crime much, much worse than the last murder: that of Lacey, for which Declan, Malcolm’s brother, is still suspected.
There are a lot of threads to start the story off and they only become more entangled as the book progresses. There are a lot of ways the plot could have gone and I liked that McManus didn’t lean too heavily one way or the other. Sometimes in thrillers, if they’re done poorly, an author’s hand is tipped early and that makes the rest of the book a chore. This is not the case here, where I found myself interested in the characters as well as the mystery of who committed the various crimes around Echo Ridge. These characters, these people, felt well developed and intriguing, even if not everyone spent as much time on the page as others.
While you might expect that there would be a dark cloud over most of the book. McManus did inject some humor into the story as well, including one of my favorite quotes that comes from Ezra Corcoran:
I have a really strong feeling that on Wednesdays, they wear pink.
The Mean Girls quote just set the scene in the high school lunchroom off perfectly. lol
Two Can Keep A Secret is a well paced thriller that I think very few readers will want to put down. The secrets in Echo Ridge beg to be revealed and the very last line of the book is especially killer.
About the Author
As a kid I used to write books when I was supposed to be playing outside, and not much has changed. I’m a marketing and communications professional who also writes Young Adult contemporary and fantasy fiction in Cambridge, MA.
When not writing or working I love to travel, and along with my nine-year old son I’ve ridden horses in Colombia and bicycles through Paris. A member of SCBWI, I hold a bachelor’s degree in English from the College of the Holy Cross and a master’s degree in Journalism from Northeastern University. Which I have never, ever used professionally.
About the Giveaway
3 winners will receive a finished copy of TWO CAN KEEP A SECRET (US Only)
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I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Quotes included are from an advanced reader copy and may not reflect the finalized copy.