Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls Mary Downing Hahn Book Review

Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Han is a well-written historical fiction YA novel about the murder of two girls which shakes a small town in the 1950s. Nora, the main character, is at the heart of Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls. Nora is friends with the victims, Cheryl and Bobbi-Jo and hangs out with them the night before their murders. The deaths of the two girls come as a shock to Nora. Much of Elmgrove, the Baltimore suburb in which this book is set, believes Cheryl’s ex, a ne’er do well named Buddy was the killer, but Nora has her doubts, which the book explores.

Mister Death's Blue-Eyed Girls Mary Downing Hahn Book Cover

Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls

The structure of Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls is quite interesting. The book is divided into alternate point of view chapters with letters as well as diary entries. Further, we also get the point of view of the killer which is incredibly creepy. The narrative structure lends itself quite well to exploring themes of tragedy and growing up.

Tragedy changes Elmgrove. The residents’ sense of safety is shaken. Those close to it experience deep hurt and pain, as is typical to the grieving process. Yet, we also get to see Nora’s reactions to those who sensationalize the tragedy, those who are kind to her because they want the lurid details. Mary Downing Hahn does a fair job portraying the very real emotions and different faces that tragedy can wear.

Perhaps the best part of Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls is the dynamism of Nora as a character. She starts out as quite an immature young girl, with her biggest worry being if the popular jock notices her or not. Then we see Nora deeply questioning different aspects of her life as an outcome of the murders. Nora does question her faith as well, but in a respectful manner. I think that a lot of teenagers will be able to identify with Nora’s turning points and with her questioning, even if tragedy has not struck their lives.

In all, Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn is a book that stands out. It is fast-paced, engaging and thought-provoking. While Mister Death’s Blue Eyed Girls may not have the fanfare of bigger YA releases, it is a gem of a book that I absolutely would recommend for readers who enjoy true crime as well as historical fiction.

Disclosure: Received for review via Amazon Vine. 

Other reviews of Mister Death’s Blue-Eyed Girls by Mary Downing Hahn:

Rather Be Reading – “has the meat, the themes, and the human insight to be received by a wider audience with open arms

The Hiding Spot – “I found the character development and plot intriguing

Attack The Stacks – “a quietly moving novel

Other Mary Downing Hahn Books:

The Ghost Of Crutchfield Hall

About April (Books&Wine)

April is in her 30s and created Good Books And Good Wine. She works for a non-profit. April always has a book on hand. In her free time she can be found binge watching The Office with her husband and toddler, spending way too much time on Pinterest or exploring her neighborhood.


  1. I heard about this book from Mermaid Visions just a little while ago, and it’s on my tbr 🙂 All the way at the bottom of the list, but maybe it will jump its way up if my eye catches it on a library shelf or something.

  2. I started this one but couldn’t get into it. I plan to go back and give it another chance, but I tend to be picky with my historical fiction. I do think I’ll try it again though since I had a surprise review copy, I was only maybe 30 or 40 pages in.

    • I have to say, I wasn’t in love with the beginning of the book, but once Nora starts questioning things it gets much better. She stops acting vapid and it definitely takes a turn for the more interesting.

  3. I’ve got this book on my Nook and started it a few weeks ago, then got distracted. I love her kid’s novels and was excited to see her venture into the teen world! Thanks for the review.

  4. This one sounds like something I’d really love. I definitely enjoy a good murder mystery! I also love that it’s set in the 50s. There’s something more harrowing about a murder set in the 50s…

  5. Oh yay! I am loving the sound of this one. Once I saw it was historical, I had it in the back of my mind to read but after learning more through this review (alternating perspective, letters/diary entries, dynamic MC), I’m really excited to read this!

  6. Glad u liked this one! It’s high on my TBR list! Thanx for the review! 😉

  7. I’m glad I have a copy of this book! I saw another good review on Mermaid Vision and so I am bumping it uuuuuuppp.

  8. I really want to read this book. It sounds different from the books I’ve been reading lately, plus it sort of reminds me of The Lovely Bones.

  9. I love the sound of this! I haven’t heard of this book before now. Thanks for the review.

  10. Estelle mailed this one to me as soon as she was finished. I haven’t picked it up, but the way you two rave about it makes me want to immediately! 🙂

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