Atria/Emily Bestler Books: 1/3/17
eBook review copy; 352 pages
hardcover ISBN-13: 9781501123429
Everything You Want Me to Be by Mindy Mejia is a highly recommended murder mystery set in a small town.
Hattie Hoffman is a high school senior in Pine Valley, Minnesota. She is a natural actress and has spent her whole life playing the part others wanted her to play - good daughter, brave sister, supportive friend, good student. When she is found stabbed to death in an abandoned barn after the opening night of her high school play, local Sheriff Del Goodman must try to figure out who would want Hattie dead. His investigation is complicated by the fact that he is a good friend of the family and it is set in a very small town.
Mejia tells the story of the investigation and the events over the past school year that have led up to Hattie's murder through the point of view of three narrators: Sheriff Del Goodman, Hattie, and Peter Lund, a high school teacher in an unhappy marriage. Goodman's chapters are set after the murder as he tries to unravel the story of why Hattie was murdered to solve the case.
I liked Del Goodman throughout the whole novel, but became tired of Hattie and Peter. Hattie is a skilled manipulator who managed to play everyone around her, while Peter just became too weak and whiny to elicit any sympathy or support from me. Even with that said, Mejia managed to keep me interested in the investigation and I was surprised by the final resolution. It is a compelling novel and you will find it engaging beginning to end.
The quality of the writing sets what could be considered a standard mystery novel a step higher. This is a character driven novel and Mejia does an excellent job presenting her characters, flaws and all. The case is solved incrementally by Del as the other chapters go through the events of the past school year in the point of view of Hattie and Peter. There is a surprising twist at the end.
Disclosure: My advanced reading copy was courtesy of Atria/Emily Bestler Books.