cover image Before She Was Found

Before She Was Found

Heather Gudenkauf. Park Row, $16.99 trade paper (368p) ISBN 978-0-7783-0773-0

This scintillating psychological thriller from bestseller Gudenkauf (Not a Sound) examines the cruelty of children, judgmental adults, and the consequences of pranks. Newcomer Violet Crow and class bully Jordyn Petit are having a sleepover at meek Cora Landry’s house. The three 12-year-olds are obsessed with their subject for a class project on urban legends—Joseph Wither, a killer who lived in their town of Pitch, Iowa, decades before. At midnight, they sneak out of Cora’s house to meet someone claiming to be Wither in an abandoned rail yard. Cora is later found beaten and barely alive, Violet is in shock and covered in blood, and Jordyn has run back to the house she shares with her grandparents. Each girl’s personality, shaped by her home life and the events that led to this violent episode, skillfully unfolds through text messages, journal entries, therapist’s notes, and police interrogations. The stunning plot builds to a chillingly realistic ending. Only one girl may be harmed physically, but each is forever scarred. Gudenkauf is at the top of her game. [em]Agent: Marianne Merola, Brandt & Hochman Literary Agents. (Apr.) [/em]