Review: The Killer You Know by A.M. Taylor
The Killer You Know centres on Olivia Hall’s attempts to exonerate her brother Ethan. He’s spent the last ten years in jail for the murder of their classmate Tyler Washington. Tyler was the mayor’s son, about to go to college on a sport’s scholarship and naturally one of the most popular kids in their school. Olivia’s friend Daniel suggests that Olivia have Ethan’s story investigated by one of the hottest crime podcasts. If anyone can find out the truth, they can.
The story progresses through two narratives. In the present day we move forward towards the conclusion of the podcast season, while in the past we hurtle backwards from Ethan’s trial to the night of the murder. Olivia’s experiences are brought to life, especially as the ‘past’ is in present tense. We’re there with her as she watches her brother go to jail for something he didn’t do. Her pain feels very real.
As well as the interesting narrative structure, Taylor has created a sense of duality through the three pairs of siblings caught up in the case. There’s Ethan and Olivia, Morgan and Tyler and orbiting further away are sisters Reid and Spencer. The contrast between the experiences of siblings is a key theme in the novel. Morgan is pregnant with her first child, Tyler died in the woods as little more than a child.
Most importantly though, Olivia and Ethan are both likeable protagonists. Olivia’s attempts to save her brother are admirable and watching her interact with podcasters Kat and Ray her care for Ethan is evident. Seeing the inner workings of how a true crime podcast might come together was fascinating for me, as someone who has yet to watch podcasts at all. After this novel I might have to give one a go!
The story itself is also very topical, reflecting on issues that are at the forefront of public consciousness in 2019. This did, however, make the ending very predictable from the opening chapters. I would have liked the novel to continue for a few more pages to give a slightly more satisfying conclusion though.
The Killer You Know is not so much a who-dunnit but a refreshing twist on the usual story progression of crime novels. Innocence and guilt aren’t the key themes here.
What matters to Olivia and the reader is freeing Ethan and discovering the truth behind that night – what kind of person was Tyler Washington? How about his friends?
I’d recommend this novel to anyone looking for something a little different from your usual crime novel. The Killer You Know’s youthful protagonists and podcast creation focus made it a novel I loved.
Coming 12th July from Harper Impulse and Killer Reads!
I was provided with a free e-copy of this novel by NetGalley in exchange for my honest review, thank you to them and the publishers for the opportunity to read this thrilling tale.