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The Girl Is Murder Hardcover – July 19, 2011

21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Adult mystery author Haines's YA debut is a meticulously crafted slow burn…. Haines writes gracefully, immersing readers in Iris's perceptive thoughts, suffering, and transformation. Nuanced relationships and a social climate shadowed by ethnic tension and war result in a compelling reflection on a complex era. (Publishers Weekly)

...the compelling characters, superb setting, and myriad twists and turns will keep readers intrigued till the very end. (SLJ)

Take a powder, Nancy Drew. 1940s girl sleuth Iris Anderson is on the case. A stylish, slang-filled teen noir that is as entertaining as it is absorbing. (Kirkus)

What makes this such a standout is the cast. Sounding like they're right out of the 1940s (well, a 1940's movie, anyway), the characters, young and old, pop off the pages. Iris, intriguing and infuriating, captures the tension inherent in the teenage years, no matter what the decade. This joint is jumping. (Booklist, Starred Review)

Iris' story has considerable crossover appeal, enticing both mystery lovers and historical fiction fans, with a cunningly devised plot and a cast of period-specific characters... (BCCB)

About the Author

KATHRYN MILLER HAINES is an actor, mystery writer, and award-winning playwright. She lives in Western Pennsylvania with her husband, son, and their three dogs. The author of the popular Rosie Winter mystery series, The Girl Is Murder is her first novel for young adults.

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 700L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Roaring Brook Press; 1 edition (July 19, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596436093
  • ISBN-13: 978-1596436091
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,635,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Kathryn Miller Haines is an actor, mystery writer, and award-winning playwright. In addition to writing the Rosie Winter series for HarperCollins, she's also writes a mystery series for young adults also set during World War II for Roaring Brook Press. The first book in the series, The Girl is Murder, is about 15 year old Iris Anderson whose life is turned up side down when her mother kills herself and her father returns injured from Pearl Harbor. She also blogs about World War II and pop culture at

Here's a brief Q&A with Kathryn about why she decided to write a young adult novel:

This is your first mystery for young adults, after penning several of popular mysteries for adults in your Rosie Winter series. What made you decide to write for this new audience?

I love reading YA books and, as when I first tried my hand at mysteries, I wanted to see if I could write one for myself. I also felt like there was a whole world of World War II that hadn't been explored very much - what was the war like from the perspective of teenagers? In fact there's a great non-fiction book called Teenage that talks about adolescence through history that really got me buzzing about what life was like then.

What were some of the mysteries you enjoyed reading when you were young? I'm assuming Nancy Drew, due to the mention in the book, but I'd love to hear a few of your early faves.

Absolutely loved Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys. Truth told, though, I didn't read a lot of mysteries as a young 'un. I was a big Judy Blume fan (particularly Blubber, a book that has stayed with me all these years). Bridge to Terabithia will still make me cry. And I never met a Lois Duncan book I didn't tear through (though I guess those kind of are mysteries/thrillers).
What kind of research did you do to create an authentic early 1940s-New York City setting? Was there any difference in your research process for a young readers title compared to your work for adult titles?

I read a lot of great non-fiction books about the war, went through contemporary to the war issues of newspapers, magazines, comic books; listened to music and radio shows; looked at fashion; watched movies - pretty much surrounded myself with the kind of pop culture that I would've probably been into had I lived during that time.

With the adult mysteries, I think readers are looking for the nitty gritty details about the period whereas I don't think YA readers have the patience for a four page info dump on the history of air conditioning. It was freeing in some ways because I didn't have to be as specific and heavy handed with creating my world. I felt like I could create a flavor of the period without having to drown each scene in period detail. It became a lot more about experiencing the world through the character for me.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By D. White on September 14, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'm an enormous fan of Haines' Rose Winters mysteries and was broken-hearted when the series was discontinued. I had never read a YA mystery before and was thrilled that Haines snappy dialogue and penchant for historical accuracy came through intact. As a historical mystery writer, Haines is especially good at immersing the reader in a specific time and place in a way that's poignant and enthusiastic without ever falling into the trap of nostalgia or sentimentality. THE GIRL IS MURDER is no exception. The New York of Iris Anderson is substantially different from the haunts inhabited by Rosie Winters, but both are complimentary and fully realized. Iris is a neat character. She's not overly precocious but she isn't a frustrating teenager either. She thinks about boys (a lot) but never descends to the level of a helpless swoon. She's not a superhuman, Holmesian detective or an idealized Nancy Drew. Iris is just a really smart girl who grieves, laughs, worries about fitting in and somewhere along the way discovers that she has a thirst for justice and a strong sense of morality. She's a fantastic role model for young readers but she's an ideal protagonist for adult readers as well. You won't be disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Figment Review on July 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Iris is the daughter of a private detective living in the Lower East Side of New York City in 1942, and she's not who you'd expect her to be.

You see, Iris used to live in the Upper East Side and attend a private school and associate with "all the right people." That was until her mother committed suicide, and her father, who is essentially broke, moved the family.

As the book begins, Iris attends public school for the first time. The first day, she meets Tom. Tom is the kind of kid who could be really studious and handsome, but chooses not to be. He's one of the only people in Iris' new school to whom she feels connected.

A while later, Tom goes missing. One day, Iris comes home to her father talking to Tom's parents about the case. Iris, of course, wants in, but no matter how many hints she gives, her father is adamant about keeping the facts of the case from Iris.

Soon enough, she's drinking, sneaking out of the house behind her father's back, and disobeying what seems to me to be every rule she has...

Kathryn Miller Haines employs a writing style that I quite like. She does an especially great job writing the mystery. I love the twists and turns she adds to The Girl is Murder. Although some plot elements are very small, they add a lot to the story. In this sense, the story is similar to some of Agatha Christie's tales, but not as complicated.

I'm also impressed by Haines' ability to produce emotions in her readers similar to those Iris feels throughout the story. For example, there were times that I was as annoyed by Iris's Pop as Iris was because he seemed to be `holding back' the story by not asking Iris for her help.

Though, as with any story, I have complaints. Mainly, they are about Iris.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By mudwoman on July 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Well written, engaging characters, and obviously well-researched for the time period that serves as the setting of this story. The protagonist is likable. You are rooting for her, cringing for her, and hoping she'll pull it off. But what's the "it"? The narrative, and even the title, hints at several mysteries, and I was waiting to see which one of them would be the actual climax of the book. Would it turn out that our heroine is investigating this mystery over here, but unbeknownst to her she is actually on the path of another? Will she be as surprised as the reader, once the real mystery is revealed? Alas, while one mystery is solved, the teasers are left dangling, and not in a "Tune in next week" kind of way. They are dismissed as if they don't matter. The book is not really about what the title and set up suggest it is about, and that is disappointing.

What the book IS about is a girl finding her way through a challenging life change, in circumstances foreign to most of us (a country hunkering down and sacrificing, rationing, changing "normal," to support a war), while coming to grips with her rearranged family and her distant father. As a somewhat tame teenage adventure, and a taste of what life was like in WWII America, it is a worthwhile read.
But the reader might well miss it if they are looking for a mystery.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JennRenee on July 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
I was so excited when I came across this book. I love Historical Fiction and I love Mystery. The cover is eye catching, the title is interesting, and the synopsis pulled it all together to sound like a good read and it was a very good read.

The story is about a 15 year girl who just lost her mother, her father is home injured from the war, and her life was drastically changed. Iris is lost in her new world. She is having a very hard time finding her place this new world she now lives in, which contains public school, no money, and a father who she hardly knows. She quickly finds herself mixed up in a missing person's report, attempting to help her father but only lands herself a in big mess. Before she knows it the only thing she is able to do is tell lies, and that's not going so well either. It's full of laughs, mystery, and growing up.

I really liked Iris. She came across clueless at times, but she is only 15 and has lived a very sheltered life up to this point. I enjoyed reading her adventure and all the trouble she ran into. She wants to make friends, get close to her father, and help people, but her intriguing mind seems to always land her in trouble. She tells her lies with the best intention and finds that getting into a mess is a lot easier than getting out of one. I was really drawn to her and felt a strong connection to her. I was rooting for her even when she was clearly screwing up.

I found all the characters likeable, Suze in particular really warmed my heart. She was the girl that pegged as trouble, but deep down she has a big heart and horrible home life. She was doing the best she could for herself and her friends. Loyalty and friendship really went a long way with her.
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