Life Murder of Bindy Mackenzie
By Jaclyn Moriarty
Levine Books, 2006
Life Murder of Bindy Mackenzie is a Young Adult general fiction novel. It is also the third book in the loosely connected Ashbury/Brookfield series, which starts with Feeling Sorry for Celia. However, these novels do not need to be read in any particular order.
While the other books in this 'series' tend to focus primarily on normal (well, mostly normal) high school kids, Bindy is not at all normal. She is a perfectionist, an overachiever, and quite probably on the autism spectrum. She does not have many real friends, but that is about to change. For reasons unclear, her school has decided that all Year 11 students must take a course entitled 'Friendship and Development' to support peer relations and good life choices. Unfortunately, she hates her group, and her group hates her. Also, someone is trying to kill her (maybe). But no matter, Bindy is nothing if not supportive of the needs of lesser students, and undertakes to guide them in the ways of well-adjusted A students.
As with the other Ashbury/Brookfield books, this novel is written entirely as a selection of letters, memos (Bindy is the sort of person who sends memos), diary entries, and other primary source documents, with absolutely no supporting narrative. As with the other books in this series, it works. Bindy emerges as a very odd but quite engaging character, and while the plot buries the lead quite deeply (we don't learn what's actually going on with the whole 'murder' thing until the very end), you don't mind it too much because there are simply too many interesting characters doing too many interesting things.
While I quite liked this book, it is arguable that it jumps the shark; while all the novels in this series deal with over-the-top situations, the whole 'murder plot' storyline is more than I would generally expect from Moriarty. But it is fun and well-worth reading, particularly if you read and enjoyed the other books in this series.
While this series does not need to be read in order, the most logical place to start is with the first book, Feeling Sorry for Celia; the second book, immediately prior to Bindy, is The Year of Secret Assignments; the fourth book in the series is The Ghosts of Ashbury High.