Keep This To Yourself follows 18-year-old Mac Bell who is still reeling from his best friend Conor’s murder the year prior. Conor was the fourth victim of a serial killer named The Catalog Killer that terrorized Camera Cove for a few months and then vanished, with everyone being confident that the killer was a random drifter who had moved on after the killings.
Now a year later, everyone is trying to move on with their lives, including Mac. But when he finds a cryptic note from Conor that was written on the day of his murder, Mac is once again thrust into the case, determined to find out what happened to his friend. Mac also now believes that because of the note, Mac might have been able to prevent his friend’s murder, this belief making Mac all the more determined to solve his friend’s death when the police could not. I think there was some survivor’s guilt going on here.
So this book hooked me right from the get-go, and once Mac decides to reopen the serial killer case himself, the tension and the pace never slow down as Mac becomes more and more obsessed with uncovering the truth. The tension really ramped up once Mac began to suspect that the killer never left Camera Cove at all and has been here the entire time.
I loved how chock full of twists and turns this story was and how everyone ends up being a suspect at some point during the story. I loved journeying along with Mac and he slowly uncovered clues and reopened old wounds by interviewing the survivors’ families, and along the way, we’re introduced to a multitude of rich characters which added to the realism of the setting. So through these characters, it becomes quickly evident that many in the town are keeping secrets which might have hampered the original murder investigation. I always love the trope where nobody can be believed, and that was certainly the case here.
My only niggle with the book was the romance. I just didn’t feel it, and I don’t think it was developed enough to be realistic. It felt kind of unnecessary in this story actually, and it seems like it was thrust in as an afterthought with not all that much chemistry between the two of them.
As for Mac, he’s a delightfully flawed and realistic character with many layers. Here we have a young gay man who is not only struggling with guilt from his best friend’s murder but is also trying to come to terms with his feelings for Conor — that is, feelings for his friend which may have been much more than mere friendship. Mac is quite a relatable character I thought, and I enjoyed seeing his character growth throughout the story.
All in all, I thought that this story was an absolute gem. It was a terrific thriller that kept me guessing right until the utterly shocking — and chilling — ending. It was a clever and solid whodunit, with plenty of red herrings and misinterpreted clues to throw the reader off track from guessing who the real killer is. This story had kind of a “Murder She Wrote” vibe to it except we have a busybody teen boy taking the place of Jessica Fletcher and I thought this aspect of it was a lot of fun. Mac turned out to be a delightful young gay detective. But most of all, I love the fact that I didn’t figure it out and was totally taken by surprise by the huge reveal.