The Body in the Woods
by April Henry
Published on June 17th, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, Young Adult
Source: ARC Provided for Tour
Amazon | Goodreads
Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.
This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.
Body in the Woods is the type of book that I really enjoy. It has mystery, action and conflict galore.
Our main characters are Ruby, Alexis and Nick. They are all 16 and volunteers for Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue. They are training together and that’s how they meet each other. They join Search and Rescue for different reasons, but they are all committed to making a difference. Ruby was my favorite character. She is very logical and lacks the social interactions and clues that most of us take for granted. Many situations don’t make any sense to her (sort of like the main character in the series Bones), but she is brilliant and has an almost photographic memory.
“Ruby had an excruciating awareness of her own strangeness. No matter how hard she tried, she found it impossible to fit in”
Alexis is a beautiful girl with a lot of secrets. Her mom has a mental illness and Alexis is deadly afraid of being separated from her (and with good reason.) I hope that she learns to trust others with her secret and that she gets a good support system, as it’s clear that she can’t do everything by herself. All in all, she is also smart, street savvy and had a big heart. I feel that Nick was the character less explored. He is brave (or tries to be), loyal, and smart. He is prone to imagining himself as the hero that he believes his dad to have been and his mind is not always at the task at hand. He has ADHD, which I understand very well, as one of my sons has it.
“She had never seen a dead body before. It was hard to believe that this was real. It was like she had stepped into a TV show.” – Alexis
Our three protagonists take it upon themselves to find a murderer when they believe the authorities apprehended the wrong person. It was fascinating to see how they arrive to the conclusions they did, but I wouldn’t advice going to such extremes! All in all they make a great team and I hope that their friendship is expanded in future books.
The story is told in the third person from four points of view. From each of our protagonists, Ruby, Alexis and Nick, plus from the murderer’s point of view (and sometimes his victim.) I often love the third point of view because it allows me to understand better all the characters and to ‘be’ in more places with them. The writing is straight forward and easy to read. Even though Body in the Woods is a murder-mystery, it is not hard to read or extremely morbid (you can’t expect murder to be too nice or neat, right?) An underlying theme of the book is not only obsessive murder, but the problem of homelessness. It is portrayed with a lot of detail and it is heartbreaking to read about.
What the volunteers in the Search and Rescue group do is admirable. It involves a lot of field and classroom training, time away from school/work, searching in parks and forests in the middle of the night. But they make a real difference locating lost people and assisting in criminal investigations.
I didn’t even noticed that this was the first in a series, but I’m glad it is because after I turned the last page my first thought was “I want more.” I will definitely read the next book *not-patiently waiting*
Q. Please tell us in 20 words or less what is The Body in the Woods about.
A. Three teens who join a search and rescue group find a murdered girl, then team up to find the killer.
Q. What sparked the idea behind the book?
A. Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, a local teen-led group. About 30 percent of their callouts are to assist law enforcement by searching for crime scene evidence.
Q. Which of the three main characters was easier for you to write about? Why?
A. I like Ruby, who is perhaps a little too fascinated by crime. I have been accused of that myself. Ruby doesn’t quite get social niceties, and while I’m better at it than she is, it’s true that a lot of human interaction isn’t particularly logical.
Q. Why mysteries/thrillers, instead of, say, romance?
A. I like high-stakes books, and what is more high stakes than having your life be at risk? When I see a news story about someone caught up in a terrifying situation, I always wonder how I would fare and think about what I could do. I always have a little bit of romance in my books, but not a lot. I am probably never going to write a kissing book.
Q. Can you give us one of you favorite quotes from the book?
A. “Alexis tired not to dream of the dead girl, lying alone in the woods, the white edge of her eye showing.”
Q. In your website it says that you love all things salty. What’s your favorite salty treat?
A. Kettle chips has unfortunately discontinued their Loaded Baked Potato flavor. When I saw it was being discontinued, I stockpiled a dozen bags. (And this is terrible to admit, but I still ate them all long before they reached their expiration date.)
Q. Cake or Pie?
A. Pie. Especially lemon meringue. Or sour cherry. I buy 40 pounds of sour cherries every year and pit and freeze them.
Q. Coffee or Tea?
A. Coffee all the way. I have too much blood in my caffeine stream. Portland is a real coffee town.
Q. Anything else that you would like to add?
A. I love to do research. In the past year, I have been handcuffed, learned how to grapple, had a [training] gun held to my head, worn a bullet proof vest, learned knife blocks [with both training and live blades], been fingerprinted, stood six feet from prisoners being booked, been choked until I tapped, consulted with one of the world’s top DNA experts in the world, figured out how to do wrist, elbow and shoulder locks, and learned what to do if an assailant pulls a plastic bag over your head. I think I have the best job in the world.
For every sale made in person or online at Powells.com the first week The Body in the Woods is on sale, I will donate $1.69 to MCSO SAR.