Keep This to Yourself by Tom Ryan
oh my GOD, this was an incredible mystery/thriller read! I’m hardly ever surprised and usually have the killer pegged early on, but this one kept me guessing until the very end! absolutely incredible and highly recommended
About the Book
Publisher: Albert Whitman Teen | Release Date: May 21, 2019 | Pages: 320
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller | Format: eARC | Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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I’ve been in the mood for a mystery/thriller, and when my friend Meaghan wrote a glowing review I decided that I needed to read this one myself. And friends, I am not joking when I say that this book cured my freaking reading slump.
“Last summer a serial killer paid a visit to Camera Cove. By the time the dust settled, four people were dead.”
Ryan manages to pack so much information into the opening page of the book, relaying complex histories between the characters and hinting to a great tragedy. The writing is almost lyrical, which is not something that I typically equate with mysteries. I was instantly swept away into this story where Mac struggles to let go of his pain. But after he finds a clue from Connor on the night he died, Mac embarks on an adventure to uncover the truth no matter the consequences.
“It’s a message from beyond the grave, a year too late.”
Keep This to Yourself is told in the first person perspective of Mac Bell, an 18-year-old gay kid that drifted apart from his friend group after Connor was murdered the year before.
Convinced that the killer wasn’t a drifted and determined to uncover the truth, Mac begins to look for clues and connections between the murder victims that may have been missed. Through his snooping, he meets Quill, the cousin of one of the victims. The chemistry between Mac and Quill is palpable from almost the beginning, and the will-they-won’t they dance of first attraction was a thrill to read. I’ll admit that I groaned when the first black character we encounter in the story is in the trailer park, but I appreciated Ryan’s subversion of what seems to be the typical poverty representation in media and fiction for black characters: Mac meets Quill in the trailer park, but we learn that he lives in an affluent neighborhood and is just visiting his aunt.
“All the things I wanted from my life, I just stopped wanting them, and nothing else stepped up to fill in the space.”
I also really appreciated the depiction of grief and how each of the characters processes the loss. The truth is that the pain of losing someone close to you doesn’t go away quickly, and each journey is different. I feel that this is handled with care and nuance. It works as a motivator for Mac to try and find answers, but Ben and Doris just want to forget and move on. This helped the characters to feel so incredibly real to me.
I read a lot of mysteries and typically can guess the killer early on, but not here my friends. I guessed incorrectly every single time and relished in that fact leading up to the big reveal I didn’t see coming a mile away (I never would have seen the ending coming but it makes sense once revealed). Honestly, Tom Ryan has earned a fan that will be working through his backlist after this book!
I highly recommend this book to fans of mysteries, but there is also so much more to it than just uncovering the truth of the Catalog Killer. It’s about the bonds of friendship and how fragile those connections can seem to be, a wonderful m/m relationship, and the setting of a small town trying to pick up the pieces after a horrific tragedy.
REPRESENTATION: biracial couple, black rep, lgbtiap+, m/m relationship
CONTENT WARNINGS: depictions of grief, drugs, loss of a loved one, murder, queer slurs (challenged in the text)
Many thanks to Albert Whitman & Company for providing me an eARC via NetGalley for my honest review! Quotations are taken from an uncorrected proof and may change in the final publication
Let’s go on another adventure together!