I think there is no better way to spend time than reading about someone getting killed. As you read, you come up with new ideas and theories. You stay up way too late to see if you’re right, and you learn all kinds of interesting things about the people who are in the story. I love everything.
It was one of the main goals I had when I started writing Killer Content, my third book but my first murder mystery or thriller. At a house full of famous teenage TikTokers, there’s a murder mystery going on. The six members of the house look like they have it all. They have a lot of followers, good content deals, and good looks. The way they look on social media is perfect, but there are hidden secrets. When a member of the house dies in the infinity pool, the rest of her famous roommates are right away suspects because they all live there.
As I was getting ready for the book to come out on Nov. 30, I thought about the teen murder mysteries I’ve loved and how they’ve puzzled, scared, excited, and inspired me over the years. A few of my favorite things are in this list.
Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard
The series is about a group of girls who are haunted by the death of their friend, Alison. They also get mysterious texts from an unknown sender who seems to know all their secrets and sends them with the sign-off “-A.”
I used to love these books when I was younger, and I read them again while I was writing Killer Content. I found myself completely engrossed in the story. I read until the wee hours, ordered the next book in the series as soon as I thought I was nearing the end, and checked the mail obsessively for the next installment.
When it comes to this series, some things, like sidekick phones and “7’s” jeans, may be unfamiliar to teenagers today. But the suspense and plot twists and turns of this series never go out of style.
One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Described as “The Breakfast Club meets a murder mystery,” this book made me want to read it the first time I heard it. I was hooked from the start. I read this when it first came out and again before I watched the new Peacock movie.
My favorite part of the book was the way it switched between different points of view and kept me guessing until the shocking ending. Aside from the “whodunnit” plot of the murder mystery, I also really liked how this book talked about high school pressures and inequality, too. It’s also the Bronwyn and Nate romance that I can’t get enough of. I love it!
Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson
When Tiffany D. Jackson’s second book, Monday’s Not Coming, came out, I saw her writing for the first time. I won’t go into too much detail about that book and its famous twist, because I don’t want to give away the surprise for people who haven’t read it. I’ll say, though, that I think you should read it. Her writing had me hooked. After finishing Monday, I read her debut, ‘Allegedly.’ There are difficult, real-world themes in all of Jackson’s books, but they’re also page turners and plot twisters that keep you turning the pages. Writing by her is truly a master class in how to write work that’s both interesting and thought-provoking.
Grown isn’t any different. In the book, Enchanted, a 17-year-old who wants to be a singer meets a legendary R&B singer named Korey Fields. It turns out that he doesn’t help her achieve her dreams at all, but he grooms and manipulates her. It’s not clear who killed Korey Fields when Enchanted wakes up with blood on her hands and has no memory of the night before. The police are asking that question, and the signs point toward Enchanted.
Influence by Lilia Buckingham and Sara Shepard
If you’re a fan of Pretty Little Liars, you’ll love this story. It’s a mix of the two. Author Sara Shepard and actress Lilia Buckingham, who has more than 1 million Instagram followers, wrote it. They’re a dream team, and they’re both very good at their jobs.
In this book, the author talked about how our curated social media selves are the same or different from our “real” selves, and I think it was great that this book did that while also giving us an exciting mystery to solve. If you read Killer Content, you’ll learn about Instagram-influencers and YouTubers instead of TikTokers. I think that this book is part of the same larger conversation about social media and how it affects our lives, so I think it’s a good book to read.
There’s Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins
I first fell in love with Stephanie Perkins’s writing when I read Anna and the French Kiss. I read that book on vacation like it was a piece of chocolate, and I also loved Lola and the Boy Next Door and Isla and the Happily Ever After. As soon as There’s Someone in Your House came out, I was excited to read it. I was also happy to find that it was as scary as the other books were swoony.
The book tells the story of a series of murders at a high school in Nebraska, from the point of view of Makani Young, a student who moved from another state. It’s a good book for people who like the Scream movies because it switches between a horror movie and a mystery.
Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig
My favorite Caleb Roehrig book is Death Prefers Blondes. I like all of his books. At first, the story doesn’t sound very exciting. A group of drag queens and a movie star pull off Ocean’s 8-style heists. Then a suspicious death and a job that goes wrong make the situation even more dangerous.
You will enjoy this book because it is both a fun and heartwarming story about a family that was found and also a mystery. Roehrig has written a suspenseful plot that will keep you reading, and he has filled the book with characters you’ll love to spend time with.
A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson
This book is great for anyone who listens to True Crime podcasts and thinks about the clues and alibis of the cases while they wash the dishes or walk their dog (speaking from experience). When Pippa Fitz-Amobi is a high school student, she does a project for her final project about a murder that happened five years ago in the town where she lives. This opens up a case that everyone thought had been closed. As she tries to find out more, it becomes clear that the real killer is out there, and Pippa herself might be in trouble. When I read this story, I was hooked on both the meta level and the story level at the same time.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
The story of a woman named Amy who went missing and the investigation of her husband, Nick, who is thought to be her killer.
When I was in high school, I read Gone Girl for the first time. It was one of the books that made me love thrillers and mysteries. I will always remember the moment I turned to a certain page and threw the book across the room in shock, overwhelm, or excitement. To read one book again from start to finish would be a magical wish I could make. This one is likely to be on the top of the list.
If you’re a teen or a tween, this book is probably not for you. It’s about adults, so it’s probably not for you. This book should be read someday, even if it’s not the right time for you right now. I think this is a modern classic of the genre.