Podcasts have risen so much in popularity lately and when I saw that Girl, 11 featured a true-crime podcaster investigating a serial killer I was hooked on the premise. Did the book live up to the premise? Most certainly it did. I thought it was a brilliant read.

Elle Castillo is a podcaster focusing on the victims of unsolved crimes. Her latest series looks at The Countdown Killer who, 20 years earlier, started to kill women, counting down in age from 20 backwards. Those murders came to an abrupt stop but Elle is bringing a new interest to the case and her investigations are leading her to wonder if TCK is back.

Isn’t it a fantastic idea for a book? The podcast is ‘aired’ in between chapters where we follow Elle in her investigations and I thought it was a really clever way of telling the story, interlinking events of the past and what’s unfolding in the present. The podcasts consist of Elle’s voiceovers and also her interviews with key people such as cops, medical examiners and people linked to the victims. I loved Elle who is courageous and smart. I could see one of her future podcasts maybe making it into book form too. I’d love to see more of her.

This book is so fast-paced but also a book that I needed to concentrate carefully on. That’s not a criticism, it’s just the kind of book that I didn’t want to miss a moment or detail of. It had me turning amateur detective, suspecting everyone, right up to the very tense finale. Throw in a couple of cunning twists in the tale and this book was quite the ride.

Girl, 11 is a thrilling and disturbing tale of a twisted serial killer and the woman who fully intends to bring him down. It felt so original and inventive. If you like podcasts, true crime, or simply exciting and addictive thrillers then this is one for you.

Reviewed by Nicola Smith, Short Book and Scribes

Published by Pushkin Vertigo (3 Jun. 2021)
Paperback, ISBN 978-1782276890