The Secrets of Lily Graves by Sarah Strohmeyer
(Description nicked from B&N.com)
“Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.
But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.
So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.
As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, between genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.”
I don’t often read or review straight murder mysteries, as you all know that I prefer my fiction laced with a heaping helping of fantasy or sci-fi. But this one had an interesting premise—a girl who works in a funeral parlor gets mixed up in a murder—so I threw out a request for it at my local library. I’ve never read anything by Strohmeyer before this, so it also gave me a taste of a new author.
I ended up feeling kind of ambivalent about this novel. Some aspects of it are really interesting, and others just didn’t spark my curiosity. I will say that I liked the way the mystery was presented. Although I had a pretty good idea of where it was headed, I didn’t get all the details until the climax, so for me it was a satisfying read. It was the love story between Lily and Matt that didn’t work very well for me. They spend very little time together, and even flashbacks of their earlier interactions are brief.
As an avid lover of stories, I had another problem: this book reminded me too strongly of other sources. Lily put me in mind of the main character of the movie My Girl. Lily’s family, consisting of mother, grandmother and aunt, reminded me a lot of the family in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle. With the police chief as Lily’s mom’s boyfriend and therefore around in their house a lot, I thought about Veronica Mars. It doesn’t ruin the book, but it did pull me out of the narrative as I recognized why certain scenes or characters felt familiar.
Still, I did breeze through it fairly quickly—I finished it in less than 24 hours—and it held my interest fairly well, so I can’t complain that I wasn’t entertained. I think it’s just that I wanted more from this book. I wanted more character building in particular, and maybe different pacing since the book is pretty short and things pile up at the end.
The Secrets of Lily Graves is a decent novel, although I think it could have been a lot better. Teens who like CSI and other such shows will probably like this one.
Publisher: Balzer and Bray
Page Count: 304
Publication Date: May 13, 2014
Acquired: Borrowed from the Yolo County Public Library, Davis branch
Read an excerpt