Growing up in a house of female morticians, Lily Graves knows all about buried secrets. She knows that perfect senior-class president Erin Donohue isn’t what she seems. She knows why Erin’s ex-boyfriend, hot football player Matt Houser, broke up with her. And she also knows that, even though she says she and Matt are just friends, there is something brewing between them—something Erin definitely did not like.
But secrets, even ones that are long buried, have a way of returning to haunt their keeper.
So when Erin is found dead the day after attacking Lily in a jealous rage, Lily’s and Matt’s safe little lives, and the lives of everyone in their town of Potsdam, begin to unravel. And their relationship—which grew from innocent after-school tutoring sessions to late-night clandestine rendezvous—makes them both suspects.
As her world crumbles around her, Lily must figure out the difference between truth and deception, genuine love and a web of lies. And she must do it quickly, before the killer claims another victim.
Given that I absolutely adore How Zoe Made Her Dreams Mostly Come True, I was incredibly excited to see how Sarah Strohmeyer would tackle a mystery novel. Unfortunately, The Secrets of Lily Graves left me feeling pretty whelmed.
Our main character, Lily, had a pretty compelling voice. As someone who grew up in a funeral home, Lily has a rather unique way of looking at the world. She’s not ashamed of her differences, and even goes so far as to dress up in J. Crew clothing for Halloween because she can’t imagine a scarier costume. Unfortunately, Lily’s infatuation with Matt causes her to make many poor and irrational decisions, to the point where she started to get on my nerves.
The romance, itself, was fairly understated throughout the story. Sure, Matt and Lily make eyes at each other and Lily is constantly thinking about him, but that’s as far as it really goes. Matt and Lily don’t spend a lot of page time together, so their relationship progression is mostly told through flashbacks. As a result, Matt’s characterization was severely lacking, and I just couldn’t be invested in their relationship.
The mystery itself was the high point of the story at first. Strohmeyer wasn’t afraid to include somewhat gruesome details about the murder, and the constant revelations kept me wondering who the culprit was. After a certain point, though, my interest in the mystery started to fade. Side characters shared important information with Lily far too readily and conveniently, and the twist at the end was rather rushed, leading to an anti-climactic and awkward ending.
Overall, The Secrets of Lily Graves was a rather disappointing read. I’d only recommend giving it a try if you’re looking for a quick, somewhat entertaining read.