Review: The Girl is Murder by Kathryn Miller Haines

The Girl is Murder
By Kathryn Miller Haines
352 Pages
Published by Roaring Brook Press

Iris Anderson is only 15, but she’s quickly mastering the art of deception in this YA novel for fans of Veronica Mars. It’s the Fall of 1942 and Iris’s world is rapidly changing. Her Pop is back from the war with a missing leg, limiting his ability to do the physically grueling part of his detective work. Iris is dying to help, especially when she discovers that one of Pop’s cases involves a boy at her school. Now, instead of sitting at home watching Deanna Durbin movies, Iris is sneaking out of the house, double crossing her friends, and dancing at the Savoy till all hours of the night. There’s certainly never a dull moment in the private eye business.

Oh, kids. I have a weakness, and that weakness is teenage girl detectives. Ever since my dad brought home my first Nancy Drew book when I was a little girl I have been hooked on the girl detective. I was a faithful watcher of Veronica Mars, even when she broke up with Logan and went to college and hooked up with that dude who was cute but about as interesting as a sink full of cold dishwater.

And! Not only does The Girl is Murder have a girl detective, it’s set in the 1940s. POW. I love anything set in the 1940s. I’m totally fascinated by that entire wartime era. If I could pick a period of time to go back in time to visit, I think it would be this time. Obviously it’s not without its problems (racism and classism both play roles in The Girl is Murder) but just for the styles, slang, etc. Social issues aside, it just seems like a simpler time in a lot of ways.

Oh, the 1940s. Quite possibly the last era in which a badass gang could call themselves The Rainbows and still be considered badass instead of getting beaten, pantsed, and laughed out of town. All of the 40s references, slang, etc. were totally awesome. Miller Haines must have spent a ton of time researching the period to get everything historically accurate. I got a lot of the references but had fun looking up some of the others.

The story itself is slow-paced but engrossing with a lot of twists and turns. The characters are really interesting, particularly because the gang members are actually far and away some of the most likeable characters in the book (certainly more likeable than the richie riches). Overall I really enjoyed reading about Iris’s adventures and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series later this year.

And as a side note, I read most of this book with a soundtrack of Squirrel Nut Zippers, Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and Brian Setzer Orchestra stuck in my head, which only added to the joy.

4/5 Stars.

Leave a comment


  1. I hadn’t heard of this book, but oh, man, the synopsis had me at “for fans of Veronica Mars.” I LOVE that show. I just got season 3 on DVD for my birthday (I’ve been wanting it FOREVER) and it’s going on my IMM this weekend even though it’s not bookish – I just love VMars that much! And I’m with you – I was totally a Lo/Ve shipper! Why be with anyone other than Logan?!?!

    But anyway, this sounds like a fantastic read and it is now on my TBR list! Awesome review, and I love how you always make me giggle a bit as I’m reading your reviews! 😉

  2. chimneywriter

     /  February 5, 2012

    I have yet to read any girl detective novels, but this one sounds like it may be a good place to start. I have been a bit fascinated with the time period ever since I watched Baccano! for the first time. I haven’t explored it much reading wise though outside the webcomic Lackadaisy and that is something I should really fix. Thanks for the awesome review! 🙂

  3. I also have a thing for Nancy Drew even dressing up as her to go see the movie. I loved the beginning of this book, and I completely fell in love with the author’s writers style. If you like girl detectives then you should try reading the Flavia de Luce series by Alan Bradley.

  1. Bri Ahearn : Writer & Blogger
  2. Review: The Girl is Trouble by Kathryn Miller Haines « Attack the Stacks

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