Friday 6 May 2022


Book review: The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson [blog tour]

With the comeback of golden age murder mysteries, it was only a matter of time before a novel would emerge in the young adult genre reminiscent of these old school detective stories. And while The Agathas by co-authors Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson may not be the first one to be released (or it might be!), it is the first one that I've picked up. The title refers to the novel's protagonist, who is a big fan of Agatha Christie (hard relate) and, coincidentally, gets embroiled into a real-life murder mystery. Dun, dun, dun...

Alice Ogilvie was one of the most popular girls in her school, until she disappeared one summer and had all her friends and family worried for her safety. If something bad had happened to her, people would've forgiven her disappearance, but it turned out that she "just" ran away of her own accord. Her former friends don't understand why and she becomes a pariah in her school. 

So when another girl goes missing, people assume she's pulled an "Ogilvie" and has simply run away. Because that's what teenage girls now, apparently, do. But the missing girl is Alice's former best friend and Alice know something is seriously wrong. And with knowledge from her new-found love for Agatha Christie novels under her belt, she sets out to uncover the truth. 

Like so many readers, I have been devouring golden age murder mysteries in the last few years. Sparked by the popularity of Richard Osman's "cosy crime" books The Thursday Murder Club and The Man Who Died Twice, I'm rereading Agatha Christie novels and picked up any new release that mimics these kind of detective stories, such as The Christie Affair, The Maid, A Fatal Crossing, and Miss Aldridge Regrets. The Agathas first piqued my interest with its title – and with the cover blurb referring to Veronica Mars, the OG teen detective, so the bar was set high. 

The Agathas doesn't have the same dry wit that Veronica Mars was known for. Having grown up in privilege, Alice isn't as street-smart as the teen detective, and it shows. Also, the first part of the book was more focused on establishing the typical American high school setting; from the popular kids to the "losers" (or "zoners" as they're called in this book). It details their relationships (romantic and otherwise) and the main takeaway is that the majority of them are terrible people.

And what they care about really isn't that important. Even when Alice is no longer part of the popular crowd, she still comes across very unrelatable at first – as years of privilege doesn't get shrugged off so easily. Maybe I am getting too old for young adult books (I really hope I'm not) but I couldn't connect at all with the characters, as it felt that they were obsessed with pointless drama. 

Having said that, I did really enjoy the mystery at the heart of this novel. The way the authors established the main players, debunked alibis, and threw in plenty of red herrings for good measure, made this a very gripping read. And it was a fast-paced one too, something I really appreciate in a good mystery (I'm very impatient and instantly want to know whodunnit). Also, while the eventual reveal wasn't wholly unexpected, the pacing and misdirections were just right to keep me on my toes throughout. 

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson is a decent attempt at bringing an Agatha Christie story into a contemporary American high school setting. While I didn't love most of the characters and the large focus on their interpersonal drama (and that's probably more of me-problem, outgrowing contemporary YA), the plot, pacing, and mystery tying it all together was very entertaining. And while Alice was an unlikeable protagonist, reluctant-friend Iris added some much-needed, down-to-earth perspective. If there is a sequel, more of her please!

The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson is published by Rock the Boat (an imprint of Oneworld Publications) and you can order your copy now from your favourite book shop.

Blog tour stops for The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson

This review for The Agathas is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure to check out the other stops too!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me by the publisher, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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