Friday, December 30, 2011

Australian Murder Mystery Just Okay

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

I've been trying to write a plot summary for The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Australian author Jaclyn Moriarty for an hour now and it's just not working. So, I'm going to use the one I found on the author's website since it says everything I'm trying to say. It's much more clever than anything I've come up with, anyway. Here you go:

The Motive

Bindy Mackenzie is the most perfect girl at Ashbury High. She scores in the 99.9th percentile in all her classes. She holds lunchtime advisory sessions for her fellow students. She keeps careful transcripts of everything said around her. And she has been Kmart casual Employee of the Month for seventeen months straight. No wonder somebody wants to kill her.

The Suspects

Bindy is horrified to learn she must take part in the Friendship And Development Project - a new class meant to provide a "life raft" through "the tricky seas of adolescence." Bindy can't see how airheaded Emily Thompson, absentminded Elizabeth Clarry, mouthy Toby Mazzerati, malicious Astrid Bexonville, silent Briony Atkins, narcissistic Sergio Saba and handsome, enigmatic Finnegon Blonde could ever possibly help her. (Well, maybe Finnegan could.)

The Crime

But then Bindy's perfect life begins to fall apart. She develops an obsession with the word "Cincinnati." She can't stop feeling sleepy. She fails an exam for the first time ever. And - worst of all - she just doesn’t care. What could be the cause of all these strange events? Is it conspiracy? Is it madness? Is it . . . murder?

The Truth

Lots of people hate Bindy Mackenzie - but who would actually kill her? The answer is in Bindy's transcripts. The detectives are the members of her FAD group. But Bindy has made every one of them into an enemy . . . and time is running out.

See what I mean? That describes the book much better than I ever could. The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie is essentially a murder mystery. Except not exactly. Mostly, it's the story of a girl who sees things through a narrow-minded moral tunnel - until her eyes are opened to the fact that people can't be pigeonholed as easily as she wants them to be. The only problem is that her epiphany comes a little too late. She's already offended the majority of people she knows. And one of them is seeking revenge in a way that's becoming more deadly by the day ...

The thing I enjoyed most about this novel was its format. The story is told through a collection of Bindy's diary entries, letters, transcripts, memos, even telephone messages. This method allows the reader to get inside Bindy's head, seeing her strengths and her weaknesses, her fearlessness and her vulnerability. We may not like Bindy - we may, in fact, want to kill her ourselves - but we also understand her in a way nobody else does. She becomes a sympathetic character, if not a particularly likable one. Bindy's strong voice keeps "her" writing entertaining. On the downside, the plot of this novel leaves much to be desired. The motive behind the crime seemed far-fetched to me, which made most of the plot unconvincing. In the end, The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie earns a C from me because, really, it was just okay. Nothing more.

(Readalikes: Hm, I can't think of anything. Can you?)

Grade: C

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs), sexual innuendo and references to underrage drinking/illegal drug use

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie from the generous folks at Scholastic. Thank you!

2 comments:

  1. Sounds cute but also fun. I'd love to find out who did it.

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