When I heard that a new YA thriller was coming that would pay homage to Agatha Christie, I knew I had to have it! The Agathas by Liz Lawson and Kathleen Glasgow is an exhilarating and throughly entertaining read.
This review originally appeared on The Nerd Daily.
The most popular girl in school is dead – and everyone’s blaming the wrong guy …
When Alice Ogilvie ran away last summer, her disappearance was Castle Cove’s biggest mystery. But then her ex-best friend Brooke Donovan vanishes. Initially dismissed as a copycat case, Alice suspects there is something darker at play.
Joined by outsider and unlikely investigative partner Iris Adams, Agatha Christie-obsessed Alice sets out to get to the bottom of what is really happening in Castle Cove. There are clues the police are ignoring and a list of suspects a mile long. But Alice and Iris have no idea just how many secrets their little town is hiding…
Publication Date: 5th May
TW: death, murder, violence, blood, domestic abuse, domestic violence, stalking, manipulation
The Agathas was a pretty damn gripping read and a fantastic tribute to one of my favourite writers of all time.
Any book that pays homage to Agatha Christie instantly has my heart and the intricate plotting of The Agathas was worthy of the Queen of Crime herself. The way Glasgow and Lawson combined their fiendish brains together meant that a twisted concoction of secrets, alibis and red herrings was formed. In many ways, we have the classic Christie set-up of an isolated location, pretty closed in community and basically everyone having a reason to want someone gone. I loved the way they transported this to a Young Adult setting, creating this network of messed-up relationships and entanglements. The entire book is a love letter to the entire genre and its undisputed queen, but the way Christie’s books are also woven into the plot is ingenious. One of the characters is a big fan of her books and relates the events to plot points. This creates this meta, fantastically enjoyable humour and cheeky wink to the readers. It feels like a book that will go off and inspire a new generation to pick up her works.
That being said, this gem stands well on its own. Snippets of Christie are woven in, but this is a unique and well-crafted story. I loved how all of the narrative threads were pieced together into a complex and fascinating mystery. This was a tricksy little story with plenty of shocking twists and turns that kept me glued to the page.
The dual narrative is handled really well, adding enough seeds of doubt and unreliability in both our narrators. They’re flawed people dealing with their own secrets and trauma, but somehow you just root for them. Despite knowing they could be lying right to your face, you want to believe their version of events and for the truth to shine through. They both have such distinctive voices, with Iris’ snarky closed-off nature betraying a deeper survival instinct and a life spent running away from her past. Alice is cocooned in seemingly the perfect life of privilege, popularity and power but her troubles bubble just under the surface. The way the two of them interact is brilliant, with plenty of humourous dialogue and nuanced conversations about privilege, particularly in terms of wealth and class. Also, the wider supporting cast is fascinating, particularly the extra teammates for solving the mystery. I would happily read more books featuring this feisty firecrackers of a found family. The atmosphere between them all and the vibe created is a playful, fun and relaxed one, but they also always have one another’s backs. You get a modern-day Nancy Drew vibe of teenagers solving all the cases ignored and dismissed by the authorities.
On that note, this book really digs into the idea of the ‘perfect’ victim. It questions why some cases are seen as more worthwhile than other and how issues of privilege, race and class complicate this further. One death becomes national news, while another is forgotten and dismissed. The Agathas asks why justice is selective and dependent on the status of the victim. It also is a pretty feminist book, discussing why women’s testimonies are often ignored and dismissed as irrational or melodramatic. This is a pertinent and timely narrative, looking at recent news. Both protagonists and their suspicions are dismissed for being teenage girls. Lawson and Glasgow interrogate why that is in a thought-provoking and complicated analysis that is further expanded by questions of privilege and victimhood.
The Agathas is a layered mystery, combining thrilling plot lines, fascinating characters and important questions surrounding the politics of justice and victimhood.