S02E03 – Cry Blue Murder

How can you stay safe when there’s a serial killer on the loose? Can you be best friends with someone you met online? Cry Blue Murder tells the story of two teenagers who exchange emails after shocking murders devastate a community. We don’t have all the answers, but we can talk about the anxiety and grief that might be present after a crime in schools and the wider community. We also talk briefly about trauma, and nitpick some details about the mental health issues and diagnoses presented.

Mental health issues covered: trauma/PTSD, vicarious trauma, grief and anxiety in response to crime in the community, autism spectrum disorder.

Additional trigger warnings: descriptions of dead bodies, descriptions of murders, drowning, kidnapping, stalking, grooming, slut shaming, fatphobia, stigmatising language around mental health issues.

Listen to the podcast:

About the Book

Celia and Alice share everything – their secrets, hopes and the increasing horror that a killer is on the loose and abducting schoolgirls just like them. Three bodies have been found, each shrouded in hand-woven fabric.

From within the depths of a police investigation, clues are starting to emerge. But as Alice and Celia discover the truth, danger is closer than anyone knows. Who can you trust at a time like this?

About the Authors

Kim Kane is an award-winning Australian author who writes for children and teens. Her books include the CBCA short-listed picture book Family Forest, and her time-slip children’s novel When the Lyrebird Calls.

Marion Roberts is a creative writer residing in Melbourne. She has a masters in creative writing from the University of Melbourne and her first book, Sunny Side Up, was published in 2008. Cry Blue Murder is her third novel.

Our Thoughts

Cry Blue Murder is a quick, intriguing read. We enjoyed the format – the book is written entirely of emails, news reports, and other documents. We have complicated feelings about the story’s implications about strangers on the internet. We have both made friends online, which is totally possible to do! We also don’t love the representations of mental health issues, which are not really flashed out and have some inaccuracies. In the end, how you feel about this book probably hinges on whether or not you predict the main twist and how you feel about it. At least, that’s the case for us: Elise predicted the twist and feels the book lacks some emotional impact because of it, while Priscilla read in increasing horror as the clues pile on and still cannot decide how she feels about the book.

Recommended Readings

Relevant mental health resources:

  • The Australian Psychological Society (APS) talks about the symptoms and treatment of trauma. Headspace also has an info page about trauma aimed at adolescents. For resources about PTSD, check out our blog post on out A Court of Mist and Fury episode.
  • Kids Help Phone has some suggestions for young people coping with tragedy in the community. APS also has a fact sheet of strategies for coping with community violence. For parents, Child Mind offers some ideas for helping children cope with traumatic events.

More stories like Cry Blue Murder:

  • If you would like to read another Young Adult thriller, we recommend Small Spaces by Sarah Epstein. Check out our review episode of Small Spaces (warning: spoilers!) and the related resources in our blog post.
  • If you enjoy epistolary novels, check out The Illuminae Files by Amie Kauffman and Jay Kristoff, or Letters from the Inside by John Marsden.
  • We also recommend Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a Netflix show, for a comedic story that explores life after a significant traumatic event.

Voices from Lived Experience

Here are some of the views we found from people who have experienced similar situations from the book. There’s no particular review that we’d like to highlight, but here are some stories from survivors of abduction:

  • Elizabeth Smart survived her kidnapping and is now a child safety activist.
  • Natascha Kampusch’s biography of trauma and kidnapping has been adapted into a movie, 3096 Days. Here is an interview with Natascha in The Guardian.

On the TBR Pile

  • We are looking forward to reading Leanne Hall’s The Gaps! This story also covers the impact of kidnapping on a school community.
  • If you have any recommendations of books that explore similar themes to Cry Blue Murder, let us know!

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