Despite a genuinely creepy and intriguing premise, I found the execution of Cry Blue Murder somewhat wanting. The story opens with the abduction of Hallie Knight, a school girl from Melbourne’s south-east suburbs, and the subsequent investigation into a possible link with two previous murders. Someone - dubbed the Cocoon Killer - is kidnapping girls in their early teens, poisoning them and leaving their naked bodies wrapped in shrouds of handwoven fabric and hair. Rocked by the tragedies, and as the cases remain unsolved, the community responds with understandable fear. Suddenly, their suburban streets are no longer safe. Cry Blue Murder is related entirely through documents: emails exchanged between the two main characters, spliced with statements, interview transcripts and newspaper articles. The two girls, Celia and Alice, meet on a facebook page for then missing Hallie Knight, and quickly strike up a regular correspondence. Both feel somewhat isolated in their situations – Celia at a new school and Alice banished to a boarding school after a family tragedy – and find comfort in their budding friendship. It’s also a medium for the girls to express their anxiety over the ongoing Cocoon Killer case, and communicate how it’s impacting their lives. With some reshuffling in order to tell the story in a logical and suspenseful manner, Kane and Roberts have attempted to replicate the kind of material that might be found in a Barrister’s brief – organising records of the police investigation to gradually reveal clues. And while the format works exceptionally well for a maximum impact reveal, it unfortunately makes the beginning feel somewhat flaccid and slow. I had expected to be immediately plunged into a chilling story, close to the detail of the mystery. In reality, the first half of the novel is more about the girls themselves and the way their friendship develops. In hindsight, it’s the right choice for the story, but it did take me a while to warm up to the pace. The thing is though, I called the killer early. It’s possible that that was meant to happen, to augment the unsettling tone of the book; I can’t say for sure. By the final pages, I was less shocked by the reveal than by the abruptness of the ending. The authors leave readers with little explanation of the killer’s motivations, just a few breadcrumb hints threaded through the plot. Cry Blue Murder is a quick read, and both Kane and Roberts have a good grasp of their characters’ voices (even if a couple of the cultural references and instances of slang felt somewhat dated given the ages of the girls.) The emails are conversational and expressive, while still conveying detail about their lives and fleshing out the secondary characters, including family members. That said, I never felt particularly engaged by either Celia or Alice, and perhaps this was the problem. For much of the novel, my lack of interest in them resulted in diluting much of what should have been a creepy, unsettling atmosphere. That said, the concept really is clever, and I suspect other readers won’t have the issues with the execution that I did. If you’re looking for an inventive YA mystery, definitely give it a go.