Gripping, haunting, and thrilling— these are the three words I’d use to describe A Good Idea by Christina Moracho. Reading this book gave me the same eerie feeling that sitting in my empty apartment during the middle of a thunderstorm gives me, lights flickering, thunder shaking the windows, Wi-Fi signal only showing one bar. Scary. When eighteen-year-old, Finley returns to the rural Maine town that she grew up in the summer after her best friend, Betty, was brutally murdered there by her boyfriend, she’s looking to send Betty’s boyfriend to jail, but she finds that perfect, golden boy Calder Miller walks the streets freely as if nothing had happened. However, it’s not just Calder who’s pretending he didn’t confess to killing Betty. The entire town acts as if she was still alive and had only run away, even Betty’s mother. Finley starts on a dark journey to understand her town’s nonchalance about Betty’s death and to prove that Calder is a murder who deserves to be punished.
This book reads like a Southern Gothic. I only knew as much as Finley, meaning while she believed Calder to be the murder after he confessed to doing so, there were so many other mysterious circumstances arising over town that I wasn’t entirely convinced he did it. Moracho constantly kept me on my toes in suspense, waiting for the real killer to be convicted. Then, when citizens start to sight Betty’s ghost around town, I was convinced she was still alive but in hiding. This story kept me guessing what actually happened to Betty Flynn up till the last few pages. Not only did the spooky setting and apathetic townsfolk keep me on edge, but Finley’s devotion to Betty also kept me feeling on the verge of an emotional breakdown. Moracho forces readers to become involved in this mystery. A Good Idea explores the unchanging ways of small towns and what happens when one girl acts out of the natural order and when one boy, beloved by all, makes sure she never acts out again. This novel will draw you into a world darker than you’ve ever entered before, a world so familiar it feels as if you’ve been here before, a mirror image of something you know so well.