Book Review: All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers

Usually the books I review are written by Indie authors, but I picked up Ashley Flowers debut novel All Good People Here at my local library because I am (a huge supporter of libraries and I) love, love, love her podcast, Crime Junkie, so naturally, I had to read her book!

Before getting into the review, I just want to say, that if any of you out there love listening to true crime podcasts, you should give Crime Junkie a try, if you haven’t already. The girls (Ashley and Brit) are very respectful of the lives that have been taken, which is something you do not get with every true crime podcast. They have a way of humanizing the victims and often make a point of telling stories of those from marginalized communities, too. They also work with Crimestoppers of America!

I have been faithfully listening to their podcast since 2020, and have enjoyed every single, well-structured, thoughtful, touching episode.

Did I mention I’m a fan?

Here’s the book blurb:

You can’t ever know for sure what happens behind closed doors.

Everyone from Wakarusa, Indiana, remembers the infamous case of January Jacobs, who was discovered in a ditch hours after her family awoke to find her gone. Margot Davies was six at the time, the same age as January—and they were next-door neighbors. In the twenty years since, Margot has grown up, moved away, and become a big-city journalist. But she’s always been haunted by the feeling that it could’ve been her. And the worst part is, January’s killer has never been brought to justice.

When Margot returns home to help care for her uncle after he is diagnosed with early-onset dementia, she feels like she’s walked into a time capsule. Wakarusa is exactly how she remembers—genial, stifled, secretive. Then news breaks about five-year-old Natalie Clark from the next town over, who’s gone missing under circumstances eerily similar to January’s. With all the old feelings rushing back, Margot vows to find Natalie and to solve January’s murder once and for all.

But the police, Natalie’s family, the townspeople—they all seem to be hiding something. And the deeper Margot digs into Natalie’s disappearance, the more resistance she encounters, and the colder January’s case feels. Could January’s killer still be out there? Is it the same person who took Natalie? And what will it cost to finally discover what truly happened that night twenty years ago?

Twisty, chilling, and intense, All Good People Here is a searing tale that asks: What are your neighbors capable of when they think no one is watching?

All Good People Here: A novel.

When I started reading this book, I was already reading two others (Hierarchy of Needs by Christa Wojciechowski and Matthew Perry’s biography, Friends, Lovers, and The Big Terrible Thing), but I had to set those aside because when the public library says the book you requested is in, you have to pick it up. And once you check it out, you’re on the clock, my friend. (I hate overdue books!)

What I liked:

  • Right out of the gate, this book was compelling. The story begins in the early 1990’s, with the murder of a little girl. Then it jumps ahead to modern time and from there on out, the story happens in two timelines. Overall, I enjoyed the dual timelines. The writing style was easy. The jumps between times and stories did not interrupt the flow of story, but rather enhanced it.
  • Flower’s flair for mystery was on full display as she told Margot’s story: a struggling journalist trying to save her stalled career by solving a decades-old murder, while also taking care of her uncle who suffers with early on-set dementia.
  • Without spoiling the end of the story, I have to say it was good! For the last 25-30% of the book, I was vacillating between suspects, sure I knew who did it until another clue popped up! Then, I’d change my mind and choose someone else, until a different thing happened and then change my mind again! It was exactly what I love about mysteries. It kept me guessing until the very end.
  • This story stuck with me, long after I put it down.

What I could have done without:

The ending. For a couple of reasons (if you don’t want any hints about the end, stop reading! It may be a bit spoilerish!):

  • This was a fast read. I burned through the book in 2.5 days, without even trying.
  • The ambiguity of the final scene with Margot really left me hanging. Everything in this story was so detailed, then the end came and went before I knew it. When I read a book, I like to know what happens after I read the last words. I need some indication of where things go next. I need something to give my imagination a sense of closure. I did not get that with this book, because the story just suddenly stopped.
  • I need something a bit more definitive than a twist (that I loved because I did not see it coming, but also hated because of what it meant, story-wise.
  • The epilogue was unnecessary. If I were an editor, I would have left that baby on the cutting-room floor. It offered nothing new, just the same information the reader already had, but from a different character’s perspective.

That said, this book was still a five-star read. Because it’s not always about how the book ends, it’s how much you enjoyed the characters journey.

I hope you’ll give All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers a read, because it is an amazing, truly original story.

Find it on Amazon

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