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The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie

The Life Murder of Bindy Mackenzie
By Jaclyn Moriarty
ISBN 0-439-74051-7
C2006. Arthur A. Levine Books. 494 p.
Genre: Realistic Fiction, humor, suspense

I first discovered Jaclyn Moriarty, an Australian author, with her book Feeling Sorry for Celia was published here in the US of A. It’s a hilarious book, written entirely in letters and notes about a young girl who is getting reacquainted to her father and dealing with her best friend Celia who ran away to join the circus. The premise (well part of it) alone makes you laugh out loud. Her second title, The year of the Secret Assignment, didn’t disappoint and so I couldn’t resist picking up her latest book.

It didn’t disappoint.
Bindy Mackenzie is a socially inept genius. She’s perfect. She gets top grades, is involved in extra curricular activities, and as of late she types of transcripts of conversations all around her. In her Junior year of high school (Year 11 as its called in Australia), Bindy is required to take a new class, FAD – Friendship and Development – and is forced to interact with a group of kids totally unlike her. At first the students are a bit weary of her, but Bindy takes that lukewarm feeling and decides to get nasty. When that backfires – she tries to act super nice but the group doesn’t respond. In the meanwhile, Bindy is feeling ill, falling behind in her schoolwork and things are just falling apart. When she confides in the group they wonder if someone is trying to murder her.

Moriarty has this way of writing that’s just full of humor, but it’s not slapstick. Bindy is one of the most unique characters I’ve encountered in a long while. With her highfalutin language and unique take on life – the confidence and yet presumptuousness – that is Bindy kept me turning the pages.

What didn’t get me turning the pages was the plot. The book is 494 pages. The title is about her “murder” and yet no one started talking about it until the end. The story is masterfully crafted. Once you’ve reached the climax and as you’re reading the dénouement of the story, I realized how carefully Moriarty wrote this story. All the clues are there. I just wonder if it could have been pared down just a bit.

One of the other bits I love about Moriarty books is that they’re all written in the same universe. Characters from all her novels pop up in the books… and it makes me nostalgic to go back and read them again.

I would definitely recommend this title though. It’s fun and sassy. I would just suggest it to a reader with some patience. Someone who’s willing to stick with the story. Frankly the cover, title and the blurb on the inside jacket will have most readers hooked.