Karen McManus’s One of Us is Lying is a young adult mystery that adult readers will enjoy. The story is narrated by four people: all murder suspects. McManus mentioned that one of her influences for this book was The Breakfast Club, and the influence is obvious from the initial set-up. A jock, a nerd, a popular girl, and a burnout are all stuck in detention together. They start out strangers, but when the fifth person in their detention has an allergic reaction and winds up dead, they become murder suspects and unlikely friends.
The victim’s name is Simon. He was a pariah at school who ran a gossip blog that posted vicious (and always true) rumors. Police discover that he had planned to post a blog post the day after he was murdered with juicy, possibly life-ruining secrets about all four of the students who were in detention. As the suspects come under fire, their secrets are revealed, and only serve to muddy the waters of who is guilty and who is innocent.
What makes One of Us is Lying a delightful mystery is the combination of great characters with a slow revelation of information to the reader. Unlike many mysteries, this isn’t one that’s easy to solve half-way through. I often find that when I read a mystery that is difficult to solve there was no way to solve it, because the author had not given me the necessary information. That is not the case with One of Us is Lying. McManus doles out clues chapter by chapter, as each suspect reveals a little bit more about his or her secrets and relationship with the victim. Along the way, the reader meets some interesting characters, watches each of them develop, and enjoys seeing the bonds they form.
By the time you find out who the culprit is in One of Us is Lying, it will feel like a well-earned reveal and leave you wishing there were more mysteries as well-paced and fresh.