A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder on BBC Three review: a zippy, fun treat for the Gen Z wannabe detectives

 (BBC/Moonage Pictures/Joss Barratt)
(BBC/Moonage Pictures/Joss Barratt)

Take one teenage girl. Add a soupçon of intrigue, a dash of danger and a violent murder to solve, and what you get is A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder. That’s right, Holly Jackson’s beloved YA series is finally getting its big-screen adaptation in this fun, zippy BBC Three series.

We enter with the sleepy town of Little Kilton somewhere in the bucolic British countryside.

There, we meet the wonderfully named Pip Fitz-Amobi. She’s played by American actress Emma Myers – last seen in hit Netflix series Wednesday as the title character’s werewolf roommate Enid – with a passable English accent and a cheery grin.

Pip is entering her last year of school, but before she leaves for good, she first must research and put together a project on a topic of her choice. What better time, she thinks, to investigate the murder of Andie Bell? Five years ago, the teenager disappeared (her body was never found), while her boyfriend Sal confessed to her murder via text before taking his own life.

Ravi (Zain Iqbal) and Pip (Emma Myers) (BBC/Moonage Pictures/Sally Mais)
Ravi (Zain Iqbal) and Pip (Emma Myers) (BBC/Moonage Pictures/Sally Mais)

Case closed? Pip isn’t convinced. “I liked Sal,” she tells his younger brother Ravi (Zain Iqbal). “He was always nice to me.” And so begins the attempt to clear Sal’s name and find out who really dunnit, with Ravi along for the ride.

With that in mind, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder feels rather like Agatha Christie was put in a blender with Heartstopper. But if those two things don’t feel like they go together, never fear: the resulting smoothie is delicious.

Putting aside the ethics of Pip’s heavy-handed investigation techniques (impersonating people; rooting through the possessions of others; stealing phones etc), this is an old-fashioned romp that briskly walks us from hedonistic nightclubs to boring old school libraries and back again as Pip attempts to crack the case.

Basing it in the UK is a masterstroke: is there anywhere quite as brilliantly creepy as a small English town with secrets hiding under the surface? And the further we go, the more dangerous things get for our plucky young protagonist.

Speaking of young – this is a very youthful cast. With the exception of Myers and the older hands (Matthew Baynton plays a teacher, Anna Maxwell Martin plays Pip’s mum), many of Pip’s friends are making their on-screen debuts here.

Emma Myers as Pip (BBC/Moonage Pictures/Joss Barratt)
Emma Myers as Pip (BBC/Moonage Pictures/Joss Barratt)

That’s not a bad thing – quite the contrary. The dynamics of their friendship circle feel wonderfully lived-in: you really believe that this bunch of misfits have grown up together, and watching the girls especially interact is a lovely study in female relationships.

Some moments, though, did make me feel rather old, in particular Pip’s aversion to drinking alcohol (despite being peer pressured into doing so at one point). No underage drinking in the supermarket car park for this lot: this is Gen Z out in full force, and they’re doing things their way.

As might be expected, Myers is great as Pip, blending wide-eyed innocence with a steely determination to uncover the truth – and newcomer Zain Iqbal is a great foil as her partner in crime/ love interest Ravi, though he seems to have been mainly put there to be handsome.

Propelled by an appropriately punky soundtrack that veers from Wet Leg to the heavy bass notes of Moderat, A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder is a crowd-pleaser that will delight the faithful and draw in fresh fans to boot. A summery treat.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder will stream on BBC iPlayer on July 1 at 6am, and will air on BBC Three later in July