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A Good Girl's Guide to Murder

Check out our episode here! A Good Girl's Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

Pippa Fitz-Amobi is working on her senior capstone project, proving Sal Singh did not kill his girlfriend Andie Bell and then himself five years ago. To begin her project, she goes to the Singh house, even though everyone in town thinks they’re all murderers and terrible, mostly because they are brown, to speak to Sal's brother Ravi. She really doesn't believe Sal would have done it and hopes to get his brother to help her. As this is a school project, she keeps excellent documentation of all her research, like articles, interviews and transcripts and such. She learns all about what the police do when someone is reported missing, but stops working when her Dad, (step-dad really), her brother (half-brother really) and her dog start crashing around the house. The dog is wearing the dad’s shirt here, just so everyone knows. Don’t get attached though. Spoiler alert. The dog dies.

She reads through police reports and Facebook posts and things and we learn “the story.” Sal was at his friend Max’s house Friday night with a few other friends, Naomi, Jake and Millie. He left Max’s place at 12:15 am and his dad reported him getting home at 12:50, which is a plausible time for him to have walked home. Andie was supposed to have picked up her parents from a party at 12:45 but she never showed. On Tuesday, Sal’s friends told the police that Sal asked them to lie for him and say he left at 10:30. Andie was seen leaving her house at 10:40. Police decided that, because there was some of Andie’s blood under Sal’s fingernails, some in her own trunk, Sal had her phone and Sal’s fingerprints were in her car that Sal murdered her and then killed himself. His body was found Tuesday afternoon in the woods with a bag around his head, having taken too many sleeping pills and suffocating himself.

By talking to Ravi and then watching lots of YouTube videos about the case, Pippa learns that Andie’s dad is a sleaze and she might have run away to punish him and then he talks about her in past tense, making him Suspect #1. She reveals to Ravi that Sal was basically her hero when she was 10, so there’s no way he could have done it. He agrees because he thinks his brother was pretty great. Next she talks to Naomi, who Ravi said had to have been in love with Sal, who is her best friend Cara’s sister, and she’s really nervous and anxious during the interview, but she’s like that most of the time anyway. Cara pops in looking for butterfingers and then their dad, Mr. Ward, who is a teacher at the school, comes home. The interview reveals nothing new and Naomi gives Pippa Max’s phone number and she contacts him next. Max says Naomi was missing most of that night and he played a lot of Call of Duty and never really talked to Andie. He’s basically a bag of dicks, but now Naomi has joined the persons of interest list. Next she interviews Mr. Ward who called in sick the Tuesday Sal’s body was found. He mentions really liking Sal and not really knowing much about Andie.

When she meets up with Ravi again, he gives Pippa Sal’s phone. On it, she sees he called Andie more than 100 times the day she went missing. She reads his texts and quickly decides that the text he sent his dad, the one admitting to killing Andie, was written by someone else, because things are properly punctuated. She also finds a note with random numbers and letters, obviously a license plate, but they don’t know whose. They talk about how he couldn’t have had time to murder and bury someone if he’s calling them 100 plus times and why would he have done that anyway if he had her phone? Pippa decides to call Andie’s best friends next. Emma says that Andie was pretty much a bitch to everyone, not to speak ill of the dead, and Chloe talks about all the money she always had and that she was pretty much a bitch. THEN PIPPA CATFISHES EMMA. She texts, pretending to be Chloe with a new phone, and learns about an older guy she was seeing. New suspect for the list.

Pippa and her friends go camping after this. I guess she still has to have a life even though she’s solving a murder and always doing homework, right? So they’re camping and drinking and then they hear a mysterious noise and investigate, but when they return to the campsite, there’s a menacing note inside Pippa’s sleeping bag. Stop digging, Pippa. Uh… what? She thinks Naomi did it because she knows where she was camping since her sister was there also. So she sets up Cara’s printer to track what gets printed at the Ward house to catch Naomi the next time she prints something menacing, if it is Naomi I mean. Pippa later follows up on her catfishing and talks to Emma about the secret older guy and Naomi. Emma says that Andie didn’t have anything against Naomi, but Mr. Ward on the other hand was an asshole. Is he the secret older guy? Surely not. She confronts him about it and he reveals that he found out Andie was cyberbullying a student and threatened to turn her in. DIDN’T, but threatened to. So maybe he’s not the older guy after all… Better talk to Naomi again to see who Andie was bullying. A girl named Natalie who is the younger sister of a janitor-turned-cop that Andie said she had sex with. Huh.

Natalie left a murder note in Andie’s locker. She could have done it. Daniel could be the older guy that Andie could have “ruined” as she told her friends she would do. Around the time of her death, he was a newly married police officer, so she could have double-ruined him. Both are now on her list. She runs into Becca, Andie’s younger sister who she was also a bitch to and tries to ask her questions but no, she doesn’t want to talk about it. So she Facebook stalks her and finds out about her best friend at the time of Andie’s death, Jess, and talks to her instead. Sheesh. Jess says that the dad was a creep and Andie was awful and that Becca got raped at a party and Andie was there talking to Max, who earlier said he hardly ever talked to her. Uh oh. Something’s not adding up here. Also, in all her Facebook stalking, she finds pictures of Max tagged not as Max Hastings but as Nancy Tangotits. Oh man is this guy a bag of dicks.

She goes to Max’s house to talk to him and while she’s in his room, she notices him glancing at a bulletin board so she also sneaks a peek and finds a topless picture of Andie. Yeah. He says he found it in the back of a classroom at school and kept it because she’s hot. Ugh, dick bag. We also learn that Andie was a drug dealer. But who’s dealing drugs to students now if she’s dead? Better go to a house party and find out. She and her friends do exactly that and she awkwardly tries to find out where a guy smoking weed in the backyard gets his drugs from. A guy named Howie. She steals the guy’s phone for a second, finds Howie’s number and plans to go on a stake out, which ends up with her following the drug dealer to his house, which so happens to be on the street where Andie’s car was found. She calls Ravi for backup. Before they go inside, because yes, they go to interrogate the drug dealer, they realize the license plate number that Sal had on his phone belongs to Howie the drug dealer. So Sal must have known about Andie dealing drugs…

Drug dealer Howie says that Andie had a burner phone, I mean, what good drug dealer wouldn’t? He also reveals that Andie started dealing in 2013 and sold weed, ecstasy, mephedrone, ketamine and rohypnol. Yes friends, roofies. And you know who frequently bought roofies? Max. And he also had a topless picture of her. Pippa decides she really needs to find that burner phone, which Howie said is probably in Andie’s closet under a loose floorboard. Back at home later, Pippa gets a mysterious text from an unknown number… You stupid bitch. Leave this alone while you still can. Excellent. Let’s not go to the police or, you know, tell anyone about this. Let’s keep investigating instead. Let’s find that burner phone! She and Ravi break in, well, use a hidden key and secretly go inside the Bell house and up to Andie’s bedroom. Everything is just as it was, except, well, the burner phone is no longer in the hidden compartment. Pippa takes photos of Andie’s planner and then they hear someone come in...

It’s just Becca though, and she’s only home for a few minutes. They safely leave the house and Pippa investigates the photos she took of Andie’s planner. There are lots of initials that she and Ravi were able to figure out, like drug pickup locations and people’s names, but there’s one that they don’t figure out immediately and a scribbled out phone number that they don’t recognize either. The initials are IV. They search and find a bed and breakfast called Ivy House, which Pippa checks out online. It’s got pictures of all the rooms available and one of them looks exactly like the room Andie was in in the naked picture of herself that Max had. So Pippa goes to visit. She shows a picture of Andie to the elderly lady running the bed and breakfast who says that, yes, she was just here recently. Oh! Is Andie still alive?! Ehh… Turns out the sweet old lady has Alzheimer's and got confused. But she’s definitely been there. As they’re leaving, they see Drug Dealer Howie meeting up with Max and Max looks angry. So they know each other, too. Better investigate Max some more. Or should we say Nancy Tangotits?

Using Naomi’s Facebook log in, given to her by Cara, Pippa looks through Nancy Tangotits’ pictures from the night when everything happened. And discovers something huge. A photo of the four friends taken by someone else. At 12:09. The only other person that it could have possibly been is Sal, and judging by the reflection in the window, that’s exactly who it was. But why would everyone lie about Sal leaving and asking them to fake an alibi? What’s going on?! She tells Ravi and they decide to have a murder reenactment, testing travel times and locations if Sal really did leave the party at the time he said he did. They test and it’s just not possible. Sal is innocent and the photo proves it. BUT, BETTER NOT TELL THE POLICE. BETTER ASK YOUR FRIENDS WHY THEY LIED INSTEAD.

Well, they lied because someone told them to. They all got a text the Monday night before they lied to the police that told them they had to tell the police that Sal left the party at 10:30. And why did they listen to this someone? Because this someone knew about something that they did a few years ago. They got drunk, drove, hit a pedestrian and left him for dead. They I-Know-What-You-Did-Last-Summered someone. And now Pippa knows BUT STILL WON’T GO TO THE POLICE to protect Naomi and Cara. Freaking come on. When she goes back home, she realizes that someone has been in her room. Couldn’t’ve been her family, because they’ve also been gone all day. There’s a message on her laptop that says YOU NEED TO STOP THIS, PIPPA over and over again. Murderer in your house? Time to tell the police? Nope. Because clearly she’s getting close. The next day at school, there’s a note inside her locker, This is your final warning, Pippa. Walk away. Instead, she talks to Becca, Andie’s sister, about the burner phone and the drugs and Max and Daniel the cop and all the other suspects. Then she goes to talk to Daniel di Silva. None of these conversations go well, though, of course. And it gets worse.

Pippa takes her dog for a walk and lets him off the leash and he runs away. She gets some texts later asking if she wants to see her dog again, and if she does, she needs to go 100 paces out into the woods in the park and destroy her laptop, flash drives, hard drives, anything containing information about her project. And she does, then lies to her dad about her laptop being stolen. You know what though? None of that was worth it because her dog was found dead anyway. She tells Ravi that she’s not working on the project anymore, not going to go to the police or anything, not share what she discovered because she’s scared. She doesn’t tell him that, but that’s the reason why. She doesn’t want anyone else to get hurt so she gives up.

But don’t worry, she doesn’t really. That only lasts like a day. And she didn’t actually destroy any of her work, she had emailed everything to herself, so she just broke her computer for funsies really. She and Ravi get back to work. She gets a call from Naomi offering help with getting into college (she’s been working on essays and stuff this entire time, trying to get into Columbia and/or Cambridge depending on which version of the book you read) and she realizes that the number that Naomi called from is very familiar. It’s the number that was scribbled out in Andie’s planner. Naomi had previously accidentally broken her phone and used an old one of her dad’s that they found in his desk. So the secret older guy that Andie was seeing had to be Mr. Ward. Better make super sure by checking their printer. At the Ward house, carving pumpkins and having a generally good time, she goes to check the printer and yes, finds the letter that was shoved into her locker. Printed from Mr. Ward’s computer. So he is the older guy. And Andie’s and Sal’s murderer. And her dog’s! BASTARD. She and Ravi hatch a plan.

They decide that Mr. Ward is not really tutoring like he’s been telling everyone he’s been doing a few nights a week since 2014. Maybe he’s going to visit Andie’s grave. MAYBE ANDIE’S NOT DEAD AND HE’S GOT HER KIDNAPPED. Pippa hides her phone in Mr. Ward’s backseat and they track it. They find that instead of going to the college to tutor, he’s going to the house that he supposedly sold several years ago. She tells Ravi that she’s going to come over to his house later and that they’re going to call the police, but instead, she follows Mr. Ward. Before going into the house, she calls the police and tells them where she is and what’s going on. She confronts Mr. Ward, who tells her the whole story. Andie started coming on to him. They slept together, but then he ended it. She got angry and he pushed her. She left his house with a concussion and the next day he finds out that she’s missing. She probably died somewhere from her head wound. So he kills and frames Sal because he can’t leave his daughters without a parent since their mother recently died. He knew Naomi was involved in the hit-and-run accident because he read her diary, so he texted the group to lie about Sal’s alibi.

But what’s going on at this house right now? A few months after he murdered and framed Sal, Mr. Ward saw a disheveled Andie walking on the side of the road. She was really messed up, so he brought her to this house and locked her in the attic. He’s been coming here a few times a week to take care of her. Pippa asks how he could do all this, how could he kill Sal and her dog?! He doesn’t know what she’s talking about with the dog, but then the police arrive. Pippa goes up to the attic, but when she gets up there, she doesn’t find Andie. This is just a girl who looks a lot like Andie. Outside, there are police everywhere. The Bells are there, too. And Ravi. She tells Ravi about what Mr. Ward did, killing and framing his brother, kidnapping “Andie”. She looks over and sees Becca Bell looking really distraught. Man, could you imagine thinking your sister is alive but it’s another girl instead? Yikes. Things are wrapping up now. The Singhs visit Pippa and are very appreciative of her for solving their son’s murder and clearing his name. But something’s still not quite right.

Pippa thinks about Mr. Ward when she yelled at him about killing her dog. He didn’t understand what she was talking about. So something else is still going on. She goes through all her suspects again and calls Max. She asks him if he drugged and raped Becca Bell. He says he did, but, like, it wasn’t, like, rape because she didn’t, like, technically say no. So she goes to talk to Becca. The last person to see Andie alive. Andie turned up back at home that night after leaving Mr. Ward’s. She was hurt. Becca confronted her. She found out that Max bought the rohypnol from her sister and when she asked her about it, she didn’t care. She said Becca should be happy that someone wanted her. Yikes. So Becca pushed Andie and she fell, already injured remember, and then got sick and choked on her own vomit. Becca took her body to an abandoned farm and put her in the septic tank. How convenient then that Sal was found guilty. Everything was going fine until a few years later when Pippa started investigating. Becca had to make her stop, so she sent angry texts and kidnapped her dog. She didn’t mean to kill him, she said, that was an accident. But she did mean to drug Pippa and drag her out to the backyard and strangle her to death.

But she just couldn’t do it. Pippa’s dad and Ravi show up just in time with the police. Two months later, Pippa gets to present her capstone project. But it’s not just in front of a few teachers and students. It’s the entire town. And reporters. And TV crews. She tells everyone everything that she discovered and everything that happened. Then she invites Ravi to join her. He talks about his brother, how great he was. Pippa joins in, saying that there was one more player in this whole thing. The city that they live in and how they turned a boy into a monster and that they need to do better. The end.

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