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The Girl Is Murder Hardcover – July 19, 2011

4.0 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Girl is Murder Series

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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: #2,113,460 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This historical mystery immersed me in New York's Lower East Side in 1942. Iris Anderson is adjusting to lots of changes. Her mother commits suicide, the father she barely knows comes home from Pearl Harbor missing a leg, and she is attending public school for the first time.

Her father has set up his own detective agency after and argument with his brother. His loss of a leg has made many parts of detective work difficult and money is tight. She wants to help her father but he sees her as a child and refuses her help. She decides to help him without his knowledge. When the case she wants to help with is centered around a boy she know at school, she finds it easy to go undercover.

Besides making new friends at her new school, she does meat again with her "best friend" from her old school. She finds her very changed but doesn't know which of them has done the changing.

The mystery has a pretty non-mysterious resolution but Iris's investigations, the atmosphere and attitudes of the time, and her growing acceptance of her new life carry the book.

Fans of historical fiction and mysteries will enjoy this story.
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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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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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