If you have made it through the first four novels in this series, you might feel as if you are in the middle of a shaggy dog story. Emma and her ghostly shadow Sutton have continually identified a suspect in Sutton's murder, become absolutely convinced of said suspect's guilt, and ultimately cleared said suspect and moved onto a repetition with a new candidate. The books are well-written, and Sara Shepard does an excellent job of ratcheting up the suspense each time. Unfortunately, the existence of the unidentified murderer constricts the story and prevents the action from moving in new and exciting directions. Emma cannot take anyone into her confidence out of fear for the safety of friends and family. I think that the television program made the better choice in keeping Sutton alive. Her frenemy relationship with her twin has allowed the plot to spin in unexpected ways.
I don't want to be spoiler-y, so I won't comment on the extent to which the identify suspect, clear suspect, and find new suspect pattern holds in this fifth book of the series. Except, of course, to note that a sixth volume has already been scheduled! I will say that more significant events occur and more interesting facts are revealed than was the case in the last couple of volumes. So, if you are interested in Emma's world, you will enjoy this book.
I do have to say that I find Emma's relationship with Ethan a tad difficult to understand. She is obviously very bright, and always discerns clues pointing to other suspects. And yet, she appears never to have considered the possibility of Ethan's guilt, despite the fact that he is surrounded by more red flags than the rest of the suspects put together! Okay, she has an excuse, although a bad one: she is in love, and love, they say, is blind. But what about Sutton, her ghostly shadow? She has no emotional attachment to Ethan, but she shows no doubts about Ethan, either. This all seems rather unrealistic, and is, for me, something of an irritant.
Of course, Ethan as the killer would be a terrible letdown, because he is so obvious, and the discovery of his guilt would consequently be boring. I would like Emma and Sutton to identify him as their main suspect at some point, though.
A much cooler ending would be a version of the old Agatha Christie plot: there is no single killer, but, rather a murderous conspiracy among all of her friends and family! They all became sick and tired of Sutton's malice and decided to do her in. They have all been covering for each other through the whole series, so they all conveniently have alibis! Obviously, they know Emma's real identity and have been playing her all along - and probably Ethan, too, since he was never part of their clique! Okay, totally absurd, and I wouldn't buy it either, but it WOULD be fun!