Two can keep a secret, if one is dead. Twenty-three years ago, it was Sarah Corcoran, the twin sister of the beautiful homecoming queen Sadie Corcoran who disappeared and never came back. Five years ago, it was Lacey Kilduff, the homecoming queen found strangled in Murderland, a popular Halloween theme park. The murderer is back, targeting the homecoming court members. Who is the killer? What is his/her motive? Who will be the next victim?
In “Two Can Keep a Secret,” Karen McManus writes an intricate story about Ellery Corcoran and her brother, Ezra, live with their grandmother as their mother, Sadie Corcoran, recovers from her drug addiction in a rehabilitation center. The sudden death of her twin left her without any sense of closure and she turned to opioids to escape reality. Sadie avoids talking about the death of her sister at any cost, but when Ellery is selected for the homecoming court and the murderer returns, she and her brother know that they have to dig deep into their mother’s past to find out who the killer is.
Throughout the novel, McManus keeps her readers wondering who the culprit is. McManus skillfully weaves different characters into the plot, providing each with a reasonable motive. The plot constantly moves from suspect to suspect, keeping readers on their toes. One of the best side characters in the novel is Daisy, Lacey Kilduff’s best friend who just so happens to like Declan Kelly, Lacey’s boyfriend.
In addition, McManus also incorporates valuable life lessons into the novel. For example, she writes about how everyone has their individual way to deal with grief and should ask for the support of others. Where Sadie turned to opioids, Daisy tries to be flawless and puts all of her energy into being perfect in order to avoid thinking about her best friend’s death.
McManus also sheds light on everyday dilemmas that people face today. She writes, “Ezra and I exchange surprised glances. I can’t remember the last time either of us had anything for breakfast other than coffee.” In this quote, she eloquently illustrates the problem of how many people are going to work or school without eating breakfast, the most important meal of the day, leaving the house on an empty stomach.
“Two Can Keep a Secret” is an interesting blend of everyday life problems and not-so-common problems. Karen McManus writes with her readers in mind, never letting the plot slow down. The suspenseful novel contains everything from the ordinary lost luggage to the murder of two girls, woven into a beautifully crafted story.
Although this story was just released in January, it has already received various positive reviews. Teenreads wrote, “McManus once again creates a story that is moved forward simultaneously by its plot and characters.” Buzzfeed named it the Best YA Book of the Year along with EW.com and Popcrush.