The hosts of the popular My Favorite Murder podcast open up about their struggles with depression, eating disorders, addiction, and their biggest mistakes and deepest fears, reflecting on the formative life events that shaped them into two of the most followed voices in the nation.
Although it’s organized around quotes from the podcast...the chapter titles in Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered are often only tangentially related to the content of said chapters. In fact, it’s almost humorous when the book does come back around to true crime toward the end, the kind of 'Oh, right, what were we talking about again?' moment you might have with a friend when you realize the conversation has gone way off topic ... The book is at its best in earnest passages...whether that comes in the form of a detailed 10-step breakdown of what to expect when going to therapy for the first time or a devastating personal anecdote about a close call with a predatory stranger ... Stay Sexy & Don’t Get Murdered is written like a conversation between best friends, complete with sidebars, and both women’s personalities translate very strongly (and warmly and charmingly) to the page through their first-person stream-of-consciousness writing styles. If occasionally the jokey bits that punctuate the heartfelt confessions come across as slightly distancing, well, they warned you a few pages earlier they had a shared neurotic impulse to fill awkward silences with nervous chatter ... their biggest strength...is radical vulnerability. Hardstark’s and Kilgariff’s different personalities and life experiences complement each other quite nicely in this regard ... What makes this advice effective is the tone with which it’s conveyed ... Lots of people will tell you that there are no real shortcuts to happiness, that if you don’t believe in yourself no one will, and so on. But Hardstark and Kilgariff do so with such specificity and openness that you actually believe them.
The genres of true crime and self-help might seem like odd bedfellows, but Kilgariff and Hardstark, hosts of the humorous podcast My Favorite Murder, create a winningly quirky amalgamation of the two ... in a conversational style that mimics their on-air banter ... Fans of the podcast—and those who recognize that it’s as much about the cases discussed as the lives of the hosts—will be particularly engaged by this candid, personable dual memoir.
The most appealing anecdotes of the book, for me, though, do not quite follow this didactic structure ... this book is primarily for those who are already invested in Kilgariff and Hardstark ... while Kilgariff and Hardstark’s voices do come through the page, the book often feels like two parallel monologues. The book format allows for focus and depth, but the charm — and also the power — of the podcast lies in the chemistry between the two hosts. The relationship between Kilgariff and Hardstark, their shared vulnerabilities, and their ability to laugh at each other and themselves: this is what is most compelling about the podcast and most missing in the book. In the medium of the book, their voices and humor often fall flat ... there is very little reflection on the podcast ... Throughout the book, Kilgariff and Hardstark are quite aware of the concerns of their private lives but not nearly cognizant enough of the concerns that their sensational podcast raises. As a murderino, I would have liked to read more about how they understand and engage with their work ... I am sorry that the authors missed the opportunity to engage with their ... an often funny, sometimes sweet, and occasionally wise memoir of Kilgariff and Hardstark’s lives and particularly their spotty youths.