Read a full summary of A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, book #1 in Holly Jackson’s A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder series. This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder, then you are in the right place!
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***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder?
Five years ago in Fairview, Connecticut, a 17-year-old girl named Andie Bell went missing. Her younger sister saw her before she left her home at 10:30 p.m. The family became concerned when Andie failed to pick up her parents from a dinner party as promised. As part of the missing persons investigation, police asked Andie’s boyfriend, Sal Singh, where he had been on the night of her disappearance. He told them he had been hanging out with friends at the home of another friend, Max Hastings. Sal walked home, arriving at 12:50 a.m. Although his friends initially confirmed Sal’s alibi, they later told police he had asked them to lie because he actually left his friends around 10:30, the same time Andie was last seen. Police were unable to question Sal again because he committed suicide by swallowing a large amount of pills and then suffocating himself with a plastic bag. Because Andie’s blood was found under his fingernails, her phone was found on his person, and because of other circumstantial evidence, it was assumed that Sal killed Andie, even though her body was never found. Although it was never proved that he murdered his girlfriend, the town believes it to be true. The Singh Family has been ostracized ever since.
Pippa Fitz-Amobi is a high school senior living in Fairview. For a required school project, she proposes researching the disappearance of Andie Bell. She also wants to examine the role the media played in unofficially convicting Sal Singh of being responsible for Andie’s disappearance, thus ruining his reputation and leading to his suicide. Although Pip doesn’t tell her teacher this, her real purpose is to prove Sal Singh’s innocence. Pip’s teacher grants her permission as long as no ethical lines are crossed. She also forbids Pip from contacting either the Bell or Singh families.
Ignoring her teacher, Pip goes to the Singh house to talk to Ravi, Sal’s younger brother. During her interview with him, Ravi says that Sal told him everything Andie did was deliberate and that maybe she disappeared to “punish” someone. Ravi assumed the “someone” to be Andie’s emotionally abusive father, Jason Bell, but Sal never specified to whom he was referring. Ravi also tells Pip about a text his father received from Sal before Sal died that said: It was me. I did it. I’m so sorry. Ravi says he doesn’t believe his brother killed Andie or that he was suicidal because he was a very calm, kind, and happy person. When he asks Pip why she is investigating his case, she says Sal was kind to her, and she doesn’t believe he was capable of murder.
Pip does some Facebook research on Andie’s father, Jason. He and Andie’s mother, Dawn Bell, divorced shortly after Andie was declared dead in absentia. Soon after, he moved away and started appearing in social media photos with a younger blonde woman. Pip thinks he looks off in the pictures—too intense and possessive. In videos, he also refers to his daughter in the past tense, which Pip finds suspicious. She considers him a Person of Interest in Andie’s disappearance.
Pip interviews Naomi Ward and Max Hastings, both of whom were with Sal on the night Andie disappeared. There are inconsistencies in their stories that make Pip suspicious. She’s especially interested in Max’s comment that Naomi went “MIA” at his house that night. Naomi was in love with Sal and didn’t like Andie. Could she have harmed the missing girl? Pip adds Naomi to her Persons of Interest list.
Ravi visits Pip at her home. He says he wants to partner with her and help with her investigation into Andie’s disappearance. He brings her Sal’s phone, which the police had returned to the Singhs after Sal’s death. They notice that Sal called Andie over 100 times on the night she vanished, which they think indicates he didn’t know she was gone and, therefore, could not have killed her. The police believe the opposite—that Sal’s calls were made deliberately to make himself seem innocent. Pip also notices that Sal’s texts show he always texted in lowercase letters with no punctuation. His “confession” text contained proper capitalization and punctuation, indicating someone else may have written in.
Pip interviews Andie’s two best friends from high school, Emma Hutton and Chloe Burch. Emma recalls that although Andie was beautiful and popular, she could be mercurial and cruel. She was especially unkind to her younger sister, Becca. In fact, Andie was supposed to stay home the night she disappeared because Becca had been self-harming. Her parents had to go out, so they asked Andie to keep an eye on her at home. Chloe tells Pip that Andie enjoyed keeping secrets because it made her feel powerful, like where she got all the money she always had. Chloe also hesitates when Pip asks her if Sal and Andie were exclusive. Was Andie secretly seeing someone besides Sal? Chloe is not very forthcoming in her interview, so Pip decides to catfish her by texting her, pretending to be Emma. During the conversation, she finds out that (1) Andie knew her father was having an affair with the blonde woman, and he knew she knew, and (2) that Andie told her friends she was seeing an older guy but never told them his name. He could have been the source of her money as well as her killer. Jason Bell was known to be having an affair. Could he have been Andie’s older lover?
While camping in the woods with friends, an unknown intruder leaves a note for Pip that tells her to stop digging into the Andie Bell case. Pip suspects Naomi Ward of writing it and sets up an alert on the family’s printer so that Pip can see any documents printed on it.
In an interview with Emma Hutton, one of Andie’s best friends, she tells Pip that Andie hated Elliot Ward, a high school teacher and the father of Naomi. Could he be her secret older man? Elliott explains to Pip that Andie was mad at him because he caught her bullying another girl (Natalie da Silva) and reported it to her father. Naomi tells Pip that Natalie was traumatized by the bullying. While in college, she was arrested for assault. She also left a note with a death threat in Andie’s locker. Further, Pip discovers that Natalie’s older brother is a Fairview police officer, one that did not treat Ravi well when he asked questions about holes in the Sal Singh investigation. Andie Bell ruined Natalie’s life with her bullying. She had a motive to kill Andie, and her brother could have helped her cover it up. Daniel da Silva could also have been Andie’s secret older lover.
Pip acquires a transcript of an interview the Fairview police did with Sal on the day after Andie disappeared. He’s evasive in his answers. Sal says he and Andie had argued the day she vanished, but he refuses to say why.
While interviewing Jess Walker, a friend of Becca Bell, Pip learns that Jason Bell bullied his wife and daughters. Jess also says that Jason left his home the night Andie died for a brief period. Further, she says that Max Hastings was Andie Bell’s boyfriend, even though he said he barely knew her. Max Hastings goes on Pip’s Persons of Interest list.
When Pip confronts Max, he confesses that he was buying drugs from Andie, which explains why she always had so much cash on her. Pip also spies a nude photo of Andie in Max’s bedroom, which he says he found at the high school. Pip later learns Andie’s supplier is named Howie Bowers. When Pip confronts Howie, she finds out that Andie had a secret cell phone for her drug dealing. Since the police didn’t have it, it must still be hidden in Andie’s bedroom. Also, Howie doesn’t have an alibi for the night Andie disappeared.
Pip receives a threatening text from an unknown number warning her to back off.
Pip and Ravi sneak into Andie’s bedroom, looking for her secret phone. They don’t find it, but they do find her planner with notes written in code. Inside, they find a reference to the Ivy House Inn. Its website has pictures that show a bathroom Pip recognizes from the nude photo of Andie. She was there at some point, presumably with her secret older lover. Pip and Ravi go to Ivy House Inn. They show the elderly owner a picture of Andie Bell; the woman says Andie has been there recently. The owner’s son tells them the old lady has Alzheimer’s and her memory can’t be relied on. When Pip and Ravi return from their trip, they see Howie and Max Hastings talking, indicating that the two know each other when they said they didn’t. Could they have worked together to kill Andie?
After learning about “calamity” parties that were happening at the homes of high schoolers during Andie’s time, Pip learns that a number of girls who attended had their drinks spiked with “roofies.” Max Hastings organized the parties and is, presumably, the one who used the roofies. When one victim tried to report what was happening, her concerns were dismissed by a young Fairview police officer (Daniel da Silva).
Pip gets onto Max’s secret Facebook account and finds photos he posted from the night Andie disappeared. The pictures are time-stamped. One of them shows all the people known to have been at his house the night Andie vanished, so who took the shot? Pip assumes it was Sal, meaning the time-stamped photo gives him a much-needed alibi. Pip and Ravi reenact the crime using this new information, proving that Sal did not have time to commit the murder.
Pip visits Naomi and Max (who are dating). They admit that they lied about Sal, asking them to lie about the time he left Max’s house on the night Andie went missing. They said they received an anonymous text demanding that they change their story about the time Sal left Max’s house or the texter would reveal to the police a secret they had been keeping. Naomi, Max, and some other friends had drunk too much at a party. With a drunk Max behind the wheel, they were involved in a hit-and-run accident that left a man paralyzed for life. They all swore each other to secrecy about what had happened. Pip agrees not to take the time-stamped photos to the police because she has another way to prove Sal’s innocence.
When Pip returns home, she finds a note in her bedroom: You need to stop this, Pippa. She finds another threatening letter the next day in her locker at school.
Pip goes to see Becca Bell at work. She asks Becca, who had access to Andie’s bedroom after her disappearance, who could have removed her secret cell phone. Becca says Daniel da Silva was the first to access the room.
Pip’s dog, Barney, goes missing while she’s walking him. She gets a text from an unknown number: Want to see your dog again? She gets another one the following day, instructing her to take her computer and all of her notes on her project to the tennis club parking lot and leave them in a designated spot. If she does, she’ll get Barney back. When she’s in the lot, another text arrives, telling her to destroy everything and ask no more questions. She destroys her laptop and returns home. Later, her father tells her that someone found Barney’s body in the river. He’s dead.
Devastated, Pip lets the project go to protect the people she loves. Ravi convinces her to continue, just on the sly.
How did A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder end?
Naomi calls Pip using a new phone number because her phone isn’t working. Pip recognizes the number from Andie’s planner. Naomi says she’s using a SIM card she found in her father’s desk drawer. Pip also discovers that someone has been using the Wards’ printer to create the threatening notes Pip has been receiving. Pip suspects that Elliot Ward hasn’t really been tutoring students three times a week like he says he is; she suspects he is keeping Andie alive somewhere and visiting her when he says he’s tutoring.
Pip fakes an ankle injury to get a ride home from school with the Wards. She leaves her cell phone, armed with a phone-finding app, in Elliot’s vehicle. Pip and Ravi watch to see which address Elliot visits and discover it’s that of a home that the Wards used to own and Elliot had supposedly sold. Pip calls the police and then goes to the address. Mr. Ward is there. He confesses to sleeping with Andie even though he was married, she was underage, and she was his student. Andie threatened to expose the relationship and ruin him. On the night she disappeared, Andie went to the Wards’ house and confronted Elliot, who pushed her. Then, she vanished. Elliot thought he might have killed her, so he framed Sal Singh for her death by murdering him and planting evidence on his body. Months later, Elliot saw Andie walking in another town, messed up on drugs. He picked her up, brought her to the house he had not actually sold, and has been keeping her in ever since.
The police arrive to arrest Elliot. Pip runs up to the attic where Elliot has been keeping Andie. Although the girl imprisoned there looks like Andie and says she is Andie, she isn’t. The prisoner is actually a runaway with special needs who Elliot, in his shocked state, thought was Andie.
After Elliot is arrested, the Fairview police tell the Singhs they will release a statement declaring Sal innocent of all charges.
Pip realizes that even though Elliot Ward killed Sal Singh, he didn’t actually kill Andie. She surmises that Becca Bell killed her younger sister. Becca was raped by Max Hastings at a party after he had drugged her with roofies he bought from Andie. When Becca confronted Andie, Andie said she didn’t care and that Becca couldn’t tell anyone she was dealing drugs or she would get in trouble. Becca pushed her, which caused Andie (who was already injured from being pushed by Elliot Ward) to throw up and then choke on her vomit. Becca watched her die, then hid her body in a septic tank at an abandoned farmhouse.
Too late, Pip realizes that Becca has drugged the drink she gave her. Becca tries to kill Pip, but Pip is rescued by her dad and Ravi before she can.
The book ends with Pip triumphantly presenting her senior capstone project to a large group of people.
There you go! That’s what happened in A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. We hope you enjoyed this A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder summary with spoilers.
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