Missing Clarissa / Ripley Jones / Book Review

 Summer 1999: one recent high school graduate, cheerleader and golden girl Clarissa Campbell goes missing, never to be seen again.

Twenty years later, two high school juniors take on the case. Best friends Blair and Cameron need a focus for their journalism project, and there's nothing people like talking about more than a missing white girl... or a dead one. Cameron is sure this subject will be a hit, especially when their podcast goes live. But even small towns can hold big secrets, and digging into the past--the jock boyfriend, the charismatic art teacher, the potential stalker--may not be the best move. Clarissa Campbell is long gone, but not everyone has moved on from this story. 


I enjoyed this book. It's exactly what you expect it to be, in a good way. Ripley Jones nailed the premise. Is it particularly unique? No. But I don't think that's a problem. 


  • Gal Pal Duo: So many YA mystery/thriller reads--and so many mystery/thriller reads in general--place a lone girl at the center of the mystery, tracking down the clues and inevitably putting herself in danger. Here, that is not the case. Sure, these girls end up in some (pretty avoidable, if you ask me) danger, but they do so together. At the core of this plot stand two best friends, and the book is stronger because it has both of them, foils to each other and excellent company to track down a murderer with. 
  • Blair: The two best friends who stand at the center of this book are complete opposites, and against the stereotypical-for-the-genre Cam's particularly-on-top-of-things character, Blair is a nice addition. She's an Every Girl character, flying under the radar even in her own estimation, though she is dear to her friends and her family. But throughout this book, go-with-the-flow Blair comes into herself, learning to be confident in her own abilities and her voice, and I loved that growth. 
  • Cam's Crush: Opposite to Blair, Cam is a prodigy of sorts, beyond her years and above her paygrade in a similar fashion to the main character of A Good Girl's Guide to Murder and many other contemporary YA thrillers. What Cam has that these other MCs don't, however, is a sudden and overwhelming crush who just happens to Always. Be. Present. She gets distracted by her crush, and this throws a continual wrench in her plans... which is only to be expected, given the fact that she is, you know, a teenager. It is nice to have an archetype character like Cam feel a little bit more human than super-sleuth. 


  • Long Chapters: I know why the chapters were long, and I like the idea of one chapter per episode of the podcast. I do. But this still made it hard to get through the book. Don't get me wrong. There are ample breaks in these very long chapters so you're not just stuck reading so much all in one go. But the completionist in me doesn't like to leave a chapter unfinished, even when there's a good stopping point, and so it was disheartening to have to push through so much at one time. 
  • Too Academic: I loved Sophie's involvement in this plot. I love her character, and I love what she does for Cam, for the character development around her, and for the whole vibe of the book. I did not, however, like a lot of her dialogue. I get it. She's supposed to be an intellectual match for Cam, right? But the way she spoke felt very much like reading a term paper--not like listening to someone speak about a passion project. Even in the most academic circles, people don't actually talk like this. It felt off. 
  • Too Quick to Share: This is the plot-hole-est critique I have, and it isn't a big deal. This is forgivable. My disbelief could be suspended. But the question did still occur in post-production. Why would these people, all these years later, start to share these little secrets and great testimonies with two random high school girls? They've held this close for decades, but these secrets aren't safe to share now. The case is still open, ready for more evidence. So why would they share, if they didn't think it was important (or safe) to share back in the day? What's changed? It doesn't make much sense, really. 



Fans of Holly Jackson's A Good Girl's Guide to Murder will enjoy tackling this cold case. Those who loved Goldy Moldavsky's Lord of the Fly Fest will appreciate this new true crime podcast. 


Publisher: Wednesday Books
Date: March 7, 2023
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


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