Friday, May 17, 2024

#Review - The One That Got Away with Murder by Trish Lundy #YA #Thriller #Mystery

Format: Hardcover, 384 pages
Release Date: April 16, 2024
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Source: Publisher
Genre: Young Adult / Thrillers & Suspense / Mysteries

First comes love, then comes murder . . . in this edge-of-your-seat debut YA thriller about a teen racing against time to catch a murderer targeting young girls—before she ends up the next victim—perfect for fans of Karen McManus and Holly Jackson.

Lauren O'Brian might be the new girl, but she's never been a good girl. With a dark past that she hopes will never come to light, she's looking forward to a fresh start in Happy Valley. Things might just be looking up after she meets her new broodingly handsome no-strings-attached hookup, Robbie Crestmont.

Except Robbie's got a body count—the murderous kind. Actually, it might just run in the family. Lauren's entire town believes the Crestmont brothers are responsible for the deaths of their respective ex-girlfriends. And when Lauren is invited to the Crestmonts' lake house, she finds evidence enough to prove their guilt.

But Lauren starts to think Robbie's not the only suspect. There's a town full of possibilities. Will she be able to let her guard down to find the real killer? Or is the murderer just waiting for her to get vulnerable?

  • The One That Got Away with Murder is the debut novel by Trish Lundy. Full of nail-biting twists, The One That Got Away with Murder is a gripping debut about owning your past, the cost of our mistakes, and the hardest question of all: Was it him all along? Be careful who you fall for. Robbie and Trevor Cresmont have a body count—the killer kind. Handsome and popular, the Crestmont brothers have enough wealth and privilege to ensure they’ll never be found guilty of any wrongdoing, even if all of Happy Valley believes they're behind the deaths of their ex-girlfriends. 

  • First, there was soccer star Victoria Moreno, Robbie’s ex, who mysteriously drowned at the family lake house. Then, a year later, Trevor’s girlfriend Jess Ebenstein died of a suspicious overdose. But the Crestmonts aren’t the only ones with secrets. Lauren O'Brian might be the new girl at school, but she's never been a good girl. With a dark past of her own, she's desperate for a fresh start. Except when she starts a no-strings-attached relationship with Robbie, her chance is put in jeopardy. During what’s meant to be their last weekend together, Lauren stumbles across shocking evidence that just might implicate Robbie.

    Lauren is in a tough spot, not knowing whether or not to believe the rumors and if she made a mistake by getting involved with Robbie. If she continues her relationship, she will lose the trust of her new soccer teammates who have already made up their minds about Robbie and Trevor. With danger closing in, Lauren doesn't know who to trust. After a third death rocks the town, this time someone thought to be a killer, she must decide whether to end things with Robbie or risk becoming another cautionary tale. 

  • Meanwhile, Lauren has her own problems to deal with when people start digging up her past which forces Lauren and her mom into moving to Happy Valley. No spoilers. Further complicating things is the fact that Trevor has a binder that seems to indicate that he has been investigating Jess and Vic's death, and it seems as though the investigation is now up to Lauren, Robbie, and his best friend John to find the proper evidence before yet another girl, maybe Lauren, is the next victim of a serial killer. 

  • *Thoughts* The rating of this book is based on the fact that I truly didn't like much of the cast of characters. Lauren's past is finally revealed, and I said to myself that perhaps if she hadn't been doing half the things she claimed she was doing, she may have still been on her former High School's soccer team, she would likely still have friends, and a boyfriend, and her mother likely could have had a relationship. Robbie and Trevor are victims of their father's wealth, and nothing more. This story is certainly more on the darker side and probably geared towards a more mature reader. Some people may be triggered by things like drinking, smoking, drug use, sex, eating disorders, suicide, and of course murder to name a few.


My mom doesn’t need to know the real reason I visit her at work.

I slip her a venti iced chai latte as she’s charting her patients, and she gives me a quick kiss of thanks before her eyes dart back to the computer screen. She thinks I’m a good daughter, treating her to her favorite drink at dawn. In her eyes, I’m her little pick-me-up. In reality, she has no idea why I’m here. Why I visit her at Valley Hospice every Saturday morning with her chai; why I haven’t missed a Saturday for the past six weeks. And like so many things in my life, it’s easier if she doesn’t know the truth.

I leave the nurses’ station and head into the oldest wing of the hospice center, the Crestmont wing. Soft, battered floorboards creak underneath me as I pad down the hall. The rising sun makes the faded photos hanging on the walls come to life again. The largest one is of Carmichael and Rosemary Crestmont, the wing’s namesake. A pair of scissors glints in Rosemary’s gloved hand as she cuts the ribbon on opening day in 1973. She’s dressed in a floor-length fur coat and stands in three inches of snow. Carmichael has his arm around her, a huge diamond bracelet dangling off his wrist.

I turn the corner, finding myself in the hallway with supplies. Dust coats everything like a thick layer of frost. I stride past each dark door until I reach the one at the very end. I grip the cold brass handle and push it open, my insides already softening. How I always feel right before I see him.

I find him leaning against one of the storage shelves. His volunteer T-shirt is untucked. His dark hair falls around his pale face.

“Hey,” Robbie says, his voice still warming up for the day, all throaty and tired.

“Hey,” I say back. I drop my keys onto the threadbare couch. Then he’s in front of me, and the best part of my week begins.

His lips find the back of my neck, the place no one ever touches except for him, at least for now. I close my eyes and I’m back in my old bedroom, a taller body on top of me that smells like sun and salt. I pull off his shirt to bury the memory, and he’s slipping my practice jersey over my head. The faster we do this, the faster he helps me forget. Luckily, he smells like cedar and musk with a tinge of menthol and the slightest hint of tobacco. His bad habit. He kisses me as we fall together onto the couch. He makes his way down my body, past my collarbone, my stomach. I want him more than anything and pull him closer, savoring the way he tastes. I surrender to the way his teeth graze my lips, the way his hands find my jaw. He strokes my cheek and his touch is smooth and careful. I shut my eyes tighter, imagining a calloused hand instead.

“You’re a little tense,” Robbie says, breathless. I open my eyes. His lips curl into a hungry smile. “I can fix that.”

He pins my legs down. I close my eyes again. I try not to picture anyone this time. Just darkness. Nothingness. Because Robbie knows exactly what to do. I lose myself in it. The warmth returns. Then it builds and builds and builds until it can’t build anymore and I collapse.

He rises and I unbuckle his jeans. He reaches for the condom in his pocket before I slide them all the way off. I run my fingers through his hair, pulling him even closer. I wrap my legs around his waist and kiss him, hard, pressing myself against him until he shivers and lets go. The two of us are left sprawled on the couch, hearts still racing.

I will give myself a few minutes to catch my breath, then get dressed and tell him I’ll see him next Saturday. This is our routine. The same one we’ve had ever since I first crossed paths with him in the hallway. He’d asked me if I wanted a tour. When I saw the way his eyes focused on me so intensely, I knew. I knew what I wanted. What I needed. I’ve done this enough to know how it works. And I knew he wanted it, too.

As I’m slipping my jersey over my head, I catch Robbie staring at me.

“What?” I say.

“I just like looking at you,” he says.

I feel my cheeks flush. “You can look all you want next Saturday,” I quip back, turning the other way.

“About next Saturday,” Robbie says, sliding on his jeans. “I’m going to be at my lake house for Labor Day weekend.”

“Oh,” I say. I can survive one weekend without hooking up with him. “Right.”

A curious look emerges on his face. “I could text you so you won’t miss me so much,” he says.

I bend down to grab my shorts. “I’m not big on texting,” I say.

The less connected we are, the better.

I slide on my shorts, then my socks. When I turn around to pick up my keys, I find Robbie. His head tilted slightly from looking down at me. He smiles. “Don’t forget this,” he says, pressing my phone into my hand.

Warmth spreads from my throat down into my stomach. I have to throw it on ice.


Then I’m gone, fixing my messy hair into a ponytail. A few strands fall out of place, and I can’t help but notice how well they hold his scent.


Coach makes us run a mile on the track before practice. It’s already so humid I can feel the eggs I doused in hot sauce fighting for a way out of my mouth. I’m not used to it at all, being from California. I’m not used to a lot of things in Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, where we just moved so Mom could take things to the next level with Mark, who she thinks is her soulmate. And partly so I could have a “fresh start.” Or maybe mostly so that I could have a fresh start.

This is my shot to not entirely screw up my life like I did back home. I need to maintain at least a 3.5 GPA to make up for the disaster that was my junior year. Getting into a semi-decent college is doable. I’ll stay focused. I’ll go to school, play soccer since it’s the only thing I’ve ever been good at, and study. Robbie is a nice bonus. He told me he also goes to Valley High. As long as things stay exactly the way they are, we can keep seeing each other on weekends once school starts next week.

It’s perfect. A no-feelings arrangement. Because seeing him helps me forget, and forgetting is the only way I’m going to move on from everything that happened in California. Things are going to be different here.

They have to be.

I don’t think my legs can pump any faster. Then I see the dark swoosh of Mara Kumari’s hair in front of me. I force myself to pick it up, just a little bit more. Mara’s left forward, and she’s not in love with the fact that I’ve joined the team. Even after I sent three perfect corner kicks her way during tryouts. I kind of get it. I’m breaking into a circle of teammates who’ve played together since seventh grade.

I have to earn my place to start as right midfielder. That means getting a mile time that beats Mara’s.

I sprint down the straightaway of sun-soft rubber, but have to slow up around the curve of the track. This pace is actually killing me. I need to catch my breath if I plan on going all out for the last stretch. Just as I’m about to race down the next straightaway, there’s a smell. The one that makes my stomach go cold even when it’s 85 degrees out.

I look out, beyond the track. Plumes of smoke rise up from the farm on the other side of the road. A farmer carries a torch, deliberately stoking the flames on a small area of her land. It’s just a small fire. A contained fire, to burn weeds and decaying crops. But then every logical thought I have is overridden by panic.

Suddenly, everything around me is on fire. I lurch forward, stumbling because I’m drunk. Sweating because it’s hot as hell. The smoke is black as night and I can’t see anything. Then I feel his hand, gripping mine. Leading me out.

Until something crashes down around us, and he’s screaming. I inhale ash. His burning skin. His burning hair. It suffocates me.

I cough and it’s like I’m hacking up a lung. Another ponytail whips by. Shit. I give it everything I have.

I’m relieved when I cross the finish line near the front of the pack. Nice to know my legs still work even in a state of panic.

“Six thirty. Not bad, O’Brian,” Coach Holliger says, glancing at his watch. He’s wearing a faded Penn State Soccer 2014 T-shirt, the year he graduated. The sleeves are tight around his tanned arms.

He flashes me a quick smile. “Those long legs carried you ten seconds faster than yesterday.”

I narrow my eyes at him. I’ve only had women coach me my entire soccer career, and they’ve never commented on my body. Not even a little bit.

I try to shrug it off. It’s probably his version of an awkward compliment since we barely know each other. Coach had been surprised when I was the only person he didn’t recognize at open practice sessions in July. Who transfers schools—let alone coasts—right before their senior year?

Sometimes it doesn’t feel real. I live here now. I can never go back to California. There’s nothing left for me there, anyway.

Rachel was my last tie to home. We grew up together, playing soccer since we were eight. I’ll never forget the first day I came back to practice after it happened. My teammates were surprised to see me. It had only been a few days. But I was losing my mind, staying in our apartment. Being alone with my thoughts. Dry heaving whenever I thought about Clint, because there was nothing left in my stomach to throw up.

It felt amazing to exhaust myself. It was a Friday. Rachel and I always got dinner after practice on Fridays.

“I can’t wait to inhale a McFlurry,” I told her.

She looked at me and blinked. “Oh, I made plans, Laur. I’m really sorry. I didn’t think you’d be back so soon.”

It was the first time in three years she told me she couldn’t. But I could tell by the hesitant look in her eye that it was more like she wouldn’t. That was the end of that.

I may not have to win Coach over, but my new team is another story. If I’m starting, that means I’m taking Taylor Covington’s spot. That means I have to beat her record for assists.

No pressure.

I guzzle down half my water and I’m trying to catch my breath when I feel a strong pat on my back. I turn around to find Alexis Okada, one of our team captains.

“Good run, Lauren,” Lex says. She isn’t even a little bit winded, and I know she came in first.

“Thanks,” I say, still huffing.

Lex is all muscle, with quads that can send a ball halfway across the field. She plays center mid, and is already committed to Penn State. She bends down next to me, pulling a roll of white prewrap out of her bag. She tears off a piece with her teeth and ties her short black hair back. “My parents are in Hawai‘i visiting my grandma so I’m having a kickback tonight for a little team bonding. You can spend the night, too.”

I cap my water and shove it back in my bag. All my teammates need to know about me is that I’m dedicated to helping us win on the field. I’m not interested in making friends here.

It’s for their sake as much as mine.

“I have plans actually. But thanks.”

I jog over to our field, kicking up tufts of freshly cut grass. Then Coach blows his whistle. Time to work my ass off.

* * *

I take a seat on a locker room bench. After practicing all morning, my shin guards are ripe. I peel them off and stick them in the sides of my bag, then slide on my sandals. I check my phone. A new text from Mom.

Hi honey! Mark is coming over tonight. I’m thinking we could go out since it’s Saturday. There’s a noodle house downtown. How does that sound? He’s really looking forward to spending more time with you.

I let out a groan. Mark’s been over three times this week.

It’s not that I hate Mark. He makes Mom happy. But sometimes I get sick of being their third wheel. Sometimes I just want to go to dinner with Mom. The two of us. Like we used to do.

Just then, a sharp laugh shocks me out of my bitching. When I look up, I see Mara keeled over laughing while she and Lex exit the locker room together. As the doors close behind them, and the sliver of light from outside vanishes, I think about how pathetic it sounds to spend the last nights of summer third-wheeling my mom and her boyfriend’s dinner.

I chuck my phone in my bag.

I could show face at Lex’s. Show everyone I’m a team player. I’ll leave before anything has a chance of getting out of control.

I race out the door to catch Lex.

“My plans canceled,” I lie. “What’s your address?”

Damn, I probably look desperate. But I kind of am.


I eat a late lunch of radioactive-orange mac and cheese to make sure I’m not a lightweight tonight. I’ll have a couple of drinks instead of explaining why I’ve been trying to stay sober. If they’re anything like my team back home, they like to party. I’m not trying to draw even more attention to myself by pretending like I’m better than everyone else.

I shovel the last of the macaroni into my mouth and my phone lights up with a new text. From a number I don’t recognize. My stomach drops. I changed my number right before the move to put an end to the constant messages from Donovan and the rest of his teammates.

I take a deep breath and slide open the text.

I’m one step ahead of you

Blood rushes to my head. What the hell does that mean?

But then Mark and Mom are here, their arms full of groceries. I darken my phone. Maybe if I just ignore the text, whoever it is will leave me alone.

“Hey, babe,” Mom says.

I tried to let her down easy for tonight’s dinner, telling her I had mandatory team bonding. It’s not a total lie. Still, my heart twinges a little bit. I know it hurts her feelings that I’m not obsessed with Mark.

“I grabbed a couple things for you to bring to Lex’s,” she says. She pulls out a huge bag of barbecue chips and bag of peanut M&M’s.

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