Park Row Books: 4/16/19
eBook review copy; 368 pages
Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf is a very highly recommended psychological thriller and mystery. I could not put this novel down!
Twelve-year-old Cora, Violet, and Jordyn are having a sleepover at Cora's home in the small town of Pitch Iowa.
When they decide to sneak outside and go to the abandoned rail yard,
the end result is Cora found severely beaten, Violet is in shock and
covered in blood, and Jordyn is at her home with her grandfather. The
police and the parents are trying to find answers to who did this and
why, but the answers are much more complicated than first imagined. Who
could be responsible for this kind of crime?
Cora has been struggling to make friends and navigate the emotional
cesspool that is Middle School. Violet is shy, new to town, and it looks
like she and Cora are going to be good friends. Jordyn is the school
queen bee and a bully. She has been cruel to Cora, so her change of
heart is suspect. The three girls have been working together on a class
project on urban legends. They have chosen a local man, Joseph Wither,
who was lived decades ago and is reputed to be a killer of young high
school girls over the years. The three supposedly thought they were
going to the rail yard to meet a man claiming to be Wither, who would be
in his 90's now.
Before She Was Found opens with the assault and then the past
events leading up to are slowly disclosed. The narrative unfolds through
the point-of-view of several different characters along with journal
entries, text messages, therapist notes, and police
interrogations. There are so many layers to this story and as each new
clue is revealed, your suspect will change. Finding answers through
girls who aren't able to say what happened, parents who are protecting
their kids, authorities who are struggling to find clues and answers
makes the investigation into the truth complicated and constantly
changing. The ending is absolutely disquieting and stunning.
The writing is superb and the pacing of the narrative is perfect. I
was totally immersed in the mystery and compulsively said "Just one more
chapter..." while trying to figure out what happened. The characters
were all believable and well-developed, although they aren't all
reliable. At the conclusion of Before She Was Found I sat there, stunned. I did not even have a hint of a guess about what really happened. Before She Was Found is an excellent novel, compelling and engrossing throughout the whole novel.
My review copy was courtesy of Park Row Books.