Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls

Author: Mary Downing Hahn
Pages: 330
Publisher: Clarion Books
Format: Hardcover (ARC)
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Summary (from Goodreads)Based on an actual crime in 1955, this YA novel is at once a mystery and a coming-of-age story. The brutal murder of two teenage girls on the last day of Nora Cunningham's junior year in high school throws Nora into turmoil. Her certainties, friendships, religion, her prudence, her resolve to find a boyfriend taller than she is - are shaken or cast off altogether. 

Most people in Elmgrove, Maryland, share the comforting conviction that Buddy Novak, who had every reason to want his ex-girlfriend dead, is responsible for the killings. Nora agrees at first, then begins to doubt Buddy's guilt, and finally comes to believe him innocent - the lone dissenting voice in Elmgrove.

Told from several different perspectives, including that of the murderer, Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls is a suspenseful page-turner with a powerful human drama at its core.


Disclaimer: I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. 

My Summary: Life in Elmgrove is quiet and uneventful. Nora knows what to expect from each day - there are never  any surprises. Elmgrove is a wholesome town filled with good people.

But nobody expected Mister Death. He lay in wait, preparing for the day when he would strike back at the girl who tormented him... and when the girls' bodies are uncovered in the park only hours after leaving for school, the town of Elmgrove is thrown into chaos. 

The entire town is sure the killer is Buddy - the heartbroken ex of one of the dead girls. But only Nora believes Buddy isn't the killer, and Mr. Death is still on the loose....

My Thoughts: Before Mister Death's, I had never read anything by Mary Downing Hahn - I plan on remedying this situation very soon. Hahn's writing pulled me in from the first page, and the way she portrayed life in Elmgrove in the mid-fifties kept me hooked. I easy identified with Nora - someone who was a little awkward and counted on her best friend, all the while struggling with her beliefs. The coming-of-age element of this novel was very well-written and really shows how difficult it was to grow up back in the day. The complexity of the main character's emotions made her seem all the more realistic and likable, and I'm sure anyone else who reads this novel will agree.

I loved the mystery element of the book. The way that Hahn portrays the killer (and writes from his point of view! I loved those parts!) is chilling to say the least. I was reminded of a question my law teacher once asked:  What does a killer look like to you?

The pacing was very well done - it never felt too rushed or too slow. Mrs. Hahn also did a great job developing the atmosphere of the town of Elmgrove - the fear of the citizens was tangible to the reader, which really added an extra layer to the book.

Final Thoughts: I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a realistic YA mystery, contemporary literature, and historical fiction as well as coming of age novels. (And just look at that beautiful cover!).


  1. The book sounds interesting and haunting at the same time. Great review.

  2. That sounds awesome! I'll TBR it! Thanks for the review! :D


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