cover image Two Truths and a Lie

Two Truths and a Lie

April Henry. Little, Brown/Ottaviano, $17.99 (288p) ISBN 978-0-316-32333-8

In Henry’s (Playing with Fire) intermittently scary mystery, a vanload of Midwestern high school theater kids is headed for a regional competition with their drama teacher when it begins to snow. Six hours later, caught without cell service in a polar vortex, they’re forced to check into the sprawling, difficult-to-navigate Travel Inn and Out. Soon, another group of teens arrives, this one en route to a robotics competition. When they all meet in the common room in high spirits and begin a variation on Two Truths and a Lie—one in which each contribution is anonymously offered and read aloud—the story’s narrator, Nell, chooses a paper-slip submission that no one claims, reading “I like to watch people die,” “My least favorite food is mushrooms,” and “I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve killed.” Then things get bad for the largely white cast: the power fails, large paw prints suggest a cougar prowling around outside, and a body is found hanging from a noose with another message—“THIS IS THE FIRST.” If abundant red herrings result in a less than satisfying ending, Henry’s telling successfully incorporates elements of romance into a snowed-inn mystery with Agatha Christie roots. Ages 12–up. Agent: Wendy Schmalz, Wendy Schmalz Agency. (May)