The Body in the Woods

I love a good crime drama. It’s not uncommon for me to spend hours watching Criminal Minds, Law & Order (any of them), or my personal favorite, Sherlock. The same can be said for reading crime dramas, particularly those involving teenagers. Crime dramas–whether in print or visual media–have a way of sucking me in and not letting go until the mystery is solved.

When I got the opportunity to read a galley (courtesy of NetGalley) of the first book in a new YA crime drama series, I jumped at the chance…especially when I realized it was written by April Henry. (I’ve previously read and reviewed a couple of her books: Torched and The Night She Disappeared.)

The Body in the Woods, book one in Henry’s Point Last Seen series, will be released to the masses on June 17th, and readers who enjoy a good mystery will eat this book up.

Told from three different perspectives, The Body in the Woods begins with a Search and Rescue mission in a Portland park. Alexis, Ruby, and Nick are SAR volunteers, and they’re in the woods looking for a missing autistic man. They end up finding so much more. Not long into their search, they stumble upon something their training didn’t really prepare them for…a dead body. It’s not the body of the man they were looking for. No, this is the body of a teen girl, and, based on Ruby’s cursory examination of the scene, this girl was strangled.

The police have a lot of questions for Alexis, Nick, and Ruby, and the authorities urge the trio to leave the murder investigation to the professionals, but that’s not something these kids can really do. For different reasons, each of them is determined to discover who killed this girl.

Nick wants to be a hero. His dad was killed in action in Iraq, and Nick wants to live up to the heroic example set by his father. He imagines himself saving the day and being revered by those around him. Reality, though, doesn’t quite match up with Nick’s imagination. Tracking down a killer forces Nick deal with fear, bone-deep fear that makes him wonder if he’s really hero material.

Alexis needs to escape her life at home. Joining the SAR team seems to be a way to do that, get a good mark on her college applications, and help people at the same time. Even when Alexis is forced to deal with her mentally ill mother, she continues her work with SAR, hoping that she can help to solve this mystery which is growing closer and closer to her own life.

Ruby is a crime buff with no friends, and when she latches onto something, she can’t let it go. She knows she can figure out who committed this crime…and possibly others in the area. When Ruby discovers that another girl was murdered in a nearby park, she takes her suspicions to the police, but they brush her off. Alexis and Nick, however, listen to her and agree to keep digging.

Even when the three are warned off this case–and Ruby’s parents force her to abandon her work with the SAR team–they keep trying to figure out who could be killing homeless girls in Portland. But what will happen when the killer targets one of them? Are three teenagers any match for a sociopath with a taste for murder? Can they stop a killer before one of them becomes yet another body in the woods? Time will tell…

_______________

As with most galleys, there were a couple of grammar, spelling, and punctuation errors that jumped off the page, but I’m sure those will be corrected in editing.  Those few errors aside, this was a riveting book. While I did enjoy reading each of the teens’ perspectives, I was even more intrigued when given a glimpse into the mind of the killer. (Not sure what that says about me.) Even with those glimpses, though, I didn’t figure out who the killer was until fairly late in the book, and that definitely served to keep the suspense going.

My favorite character in The Body in the Woods would have to be Ruby. When I was reading her point of view, it was all too easy to imagine her as a young, female version of Sherlock Holmes. She just didn’t think the way those around her did. (I swear, if she had told the others to shut up because she needed to go to her Mind Palace, I wouldn’t have been surprised.) Some may argue that Ruby, like Sherlock Holmes, is a high-functioning sociopath, and I think that is true to a certain degree. Like Sherlock, though, Ruby wants to be close to people. She’s just not always sure how to make that happen.

The Body in the Woods, in my opinion, is a great read for anyone (middle grades and up) who likes a good mystery. It is a quick, captivating read, and anyone interested in crime scenes and forensics will be taken in by this story. Definitely give this book to fans of Alane Ferguson’s forensic mysteries (The Christopher Killer, The Angel of Death, The Circle of Blood, and The Dying Breath).

As mentioned previously, this book will be available on June 17th. No word yet on when we can expect the other books in this exciting new series.

 

Published in: on March 30, 2014 at 5:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Dead Silence

Caution!  You’ve GOT to read the first three books in Kimberly Derting’s creeptastic Body Finder series (The Body Finder, Desires of the Dead, and The Last Echo) before reading the fourth book, Dead Silence. Each book builds on the one before it, and all of them are pretty great. If you’re looking for a wonderful supernatural mystery series, you definitely want to give this one a try!

I’m not sure what’s going on, but lately I’ve been craving a good mystery. Maybe I’m just experiencing Sherlock withdrawals, but the past two books I’ve read have been mysteries, and I’m only craving more. Within the next week or so, I’m hoping to read Social Suicide, the sequel to Deadly Cool, and Game, the sequel to Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers–both mysteries. (Of course, I’m watching my share of mysteries on the telly as well:  Ripper Street, Criminal Minds, all the Law & Order reruns I can handle, etc. Good stuff.)

Anyway, my latest read, Dead Silence is the fourth book in The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting. This entire series is awesome, and this fourth book definitely went a long way in satisfying my longing for a good mystery. (I’d probably be even more satisfied if I knew there would be more books in this series!) Dead Silence is a real page-turner, and it lives up to the three books that preceded it, and I would definitely recommend the entire series to anyone who likes a bit of woo-woo, supernatural stuff with their mysteries.

Dead Silence continues to follow Violet, who can sense echoes of those who have been murdered. She can also sense the imprints of those echoes on the murderers. Her “gift” has gotten her into some dangerous situations. She’s even been a target of a serial killer herself. That experience left Violet with more than just horrible memories. She now carries an imprint herself, for she had to kill or be killed. It’s a lot for any teenager to handle, but Violet is not like most teenagers…

With the help of a therapist she can’t stand and a team of other “gifted” individuals (who she’s learning to tolerate), Violet is coming to terms with her abilities…even the imprint that disturbs her waking and sleeping hours. She still feels the pull of the echoes of the dead, but maybe–just maybe–she can control her desire to find the dead and those who killed them.

Then again…maybe not.

When Violet is led to a murdered family, it’s clear that she’s leaping before she looks yet again. Once more, she finds herself involved in an investigation that will lead her down some dangerous roads…roads that she may not be ready to travel. For this murder scene is not like most others. A strange symbol has been left in blood at the crime scene, a daughter is missing, and one of the bodies is missing an echo. Violet knows this person was murdered, but where is the echo? And if there’s no echo, is there no imprint on the killer?

Violet will find some of the answers she’s seeking in an unexpected place–her grandmother’s journals. Her grandmother shared the same gift Violet has, and she documented a lot of what she went through…including what a missing echo could mean. Grandma also wrote about a group of individuals gathered together, all of them with odd abilities. Violet will learn more about her gift, but she may also learn more than she expected about her own team…and who may have brought them together.

As Violet searches for answers about her own life and team, she’s also trying to figure out who could have possibly murdered an entire family…and possibly many others. Who is this madman, and how is he controlling those around him, convincing them to do his bidding? What hold could he have on them, and what led him to kill?

Violet will have to lie to everyone she cares about in order to solve this mystery…but is she really prepared for the consequences of so many lies? And when the truth is finally revealed, what could it mean for Violet and those closest to her? Can Violet keep her friends and family safe when chaos, pain, and death seem to follow her? Is there any way to balance her desire to use her gift for good with her need for a “normal” life? Is “normal” even possible? Unravel the mystery when you read Dead Silence by Kimberly Derting.

Once again, this post doesn’t come close to capturing how amazing I think this book is. I was captivated from start to finish, and I REALLY hope there are more books in this series. (Considering the way things ended, I’m hopeful, but I can’t find any mention on the interweb of more Body Finder books. Bummer.) As I was reading Dead Silence, I was also halfway watching a documentary about the Manson family. The similarities between that notorious group and the bad guy(s) in this book are very noticeable and thought-provoking, and it makes this book an even more engrossing read.

I don’t know if I would recommend this book to middle grade readers, simply because some of the imagery is kind of graphic. (Of course, they probably see worse when playing Call of Duty.) There’s also a couple of steamy scenes (nothing gratuitous) that younger readers may not be ready for. (Again, this is not true for all readers. Some young ones are probably have more experience with this than I’m comfortable admitting.) Like I’ve said before, know your readers and what they can handle. Recommend books accordingly.

If you’d like more information about Dead Silence, the rest of the Body Finder series, and other books by Kimberly Derting, visit http://kimberlyderting.com/index.php. You may also want to check out the Dead Silence book trailer below. It doesn’t give too much away, but it kind of makes Violet seem creepier than she is in the books. Just my opinion…

I Hunt Killers

One of my favorite TV shows is Criminal Minds.  I think it’s fascinating to get a glimpse into the mind of a killer.  (Yes, that makes me a bit morbid, but society as a whole, in my opinion, has a morbid fascination with killers, especially serial killers.  Just look at the hoopla that still surrounds Jack the Ripper.)  Anyway, I finished a book a couple of days ago that offers an even more interesting perspective than we often see in our favorite crime dramas.  I Hunt Killers by Barry Lyga shows readers what life might be like for the son of one of the world’s most renowned (fictional) serial killers.

 

I Hunt Killers explores what life is like for our main character, Jasper “Jazz” Dent, who grew up with a vicious sociopath who cared nothing for human life.  Now that Jasper’s dad, who goes by so many monikers, is in prison, Jasper must face his own demons…and this becomes harder than ever when a new serial killer comes to town, one that is mimicking The Artist (otherwise known as Jazz’s dad).

Jazz is convinced that the recent murders in the town of Lobo’s Nod are the work of a serial killer, but no one seems to believe him.  But will that stop him from trying to prove his point?  Not even a little bit.  Jazz is putting the pieces of the puzzle together, and he’s sure that this new killer is copying his father’s work.  But how can he convince the police of this, especially when he knows he’ll end up being their prime suspect.  After all, Jazz was raised by pure evil.  How could he help but be infected by it?

As Jazz struggles to stop a killer, he is also examining his own mind and the disturbing images and urges that seem to be such a big part of him.  Jazz’s father, the great and terrible Billy Dent, never kept secrets from his son.  Jazz knows everything about Billy’s kills.  He was there for many of them.  Billy instructed Jazz on how to track victims (or prospects), how to clean up a crime scene, and how to kill.  That knowledge doesn’t just go away, and now Jazz is faced with the possibility that he’s more like his father than he’d ever want to admit.

As the body count rises, it’s up to Jazz (and a couple of loyal friends) to stop this new killer in his tracks, save the next victim(s) on his list, and prove to everyone–including Jazz himself–that it’s possible to rise above his horrible upbringing and do something that really matters.  Something that will save lives instead of destroying them.

I Hunt Killers is not a book for the faint of heart.  This book takes an all-too-realistic look at the life and mind of a sociopath…and the horror such a person could inflict on not only his victims but even his own family.  What would something like that do to an impressionable child?  You’ll get a glimpse of that in this book. 

While I related I Hunt Killers a bit to Criminal Minds, a friend of mine thought it was more like Dexter.  In a sense, it is.  (And if you’ve never seen Dexter, you really should…if you don’t mind copious amounts of blood, that is.)  While Jazz is trying to figure out who is committing these horrible crimes, he’s also dealing with his own violent urges–and how he could use those urges and his own past to stop this killer before he goes any further.  So, I guess this book is kind of the perfect combination of Criminal Minds and Dexter…and I can hardly wait to see where this winning combo takes us in the future.

I Hunt Killers is the first book in Barry Lyga’s Jasper Dent series.  The next book, Game, is set for an April 2013 release, and this book will further explore Jazz’s psyche and his efforts to stop history from repeating itself.

For more information on I Hunt Killers and other books by author Barry Lyga, visit http://barrylyga.com or follow the author on Twitter @barrylyga.  You may also want to check out this absolutely creeptastic book trailer from Little, Brown.  It made me want to go back and read the book all over again.

The Last Echo

Warning!  If you haven’t read The Body Finder or Desires of the Dead, please do so before continuing with this post about the third book in The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting, The Last Echo.  Spoilers ahead!

I don’t know what it says about me that I’m fascinated with books about serial killers.  (Maybe it just means that I’m incredibly interesting.  Probably not, though.)  I don’t mean that I like true crime books.  I don’t.  In fact, if it actually happened, I want very little to do with it.  (Unless we’re talking about Jack the Ripper.  Fictional books based on his crimes are kind of awesome, especially Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star.)  I enjoy fiction that gives me a glimpse of what it *might* be like if a serial killer were running rampant.  I also like it when teenagers are the ones responsible for stopping the killer.  That explains why I’m such a fan of Kimberly Derting’s The Body Finder series.  In each book, the main character, Violet, uses her extrasensory ability to locate the bodies of the dead and match the echo attached to the body with the imprint left on the killer.  (If you’ve read these books, this needs no explanation.  If you haven’t, read the first book, and all will become clear…sort of.)  This unique ability is both a gift and a curse.  Sometimes Violet’s ability helps the dead to find peace.  But sometimes it puts Violet in a killer’s sights…

In The Last Echo, Violet is coming to terms with people finally knowing about her ability.  She’s working with a team of kids with their own psychic connections to the dead.  When she finds the body of a young girl, she’s drawn into the case of a serial killer known only as “the collector.”  This madman kidnaps young women and keeps them as his girlfriends…until they do something that upsets him.  Violet and her team, including the enigmatic Rafe (who shares an unsettling connection with Violet), are using all of their considerable abilities to find this killer.  They might even use a few less-than-legal methods. 

When one of these adventures gets them into a bit of trouble, Violet unwittingly becomes the target of yet another psycho, a gang member who has so many imprints attached to him that Violet wonders just how many people he’s killed.  In addition to tracking “the collector,” Violet is now working to put someone else, someone who may be even more dangerous, behind bars.

Violet’s life is more complicated than ever before.  Her work with the team, while it makes her feel like less of a freak, may be putting her very life in danger.  (And even though she kind of likes working with this special team, she’s getting a little sick of all the secrets being kept from her.)  Her parents and her boyfriend Jay want her to quit, but Violet has this need to help the dead find peace.  The only way to do that is to use her special ability to find their killers and bring them to justice.  Violet may be in more danger, however, than she ever thought possible.  She’s in the sights of not one but two killers.  One wants her to die.  The other wants to make her his…forever.

How can one girl cope with being a target?  How can Violet use her ability to stop more deaths—including her own?  Solve the mystery when you read The Last Echo by Kimberly Derting.

I know this is not my best review/recap, which kind of sucks since I enjoyed this book–the whole series, really–so much.  I totally downplayed the complicated connection between Violet and Rafe and its impact on Violet’s relationship with her super-supportive boyfriend Jay.  (No, that’s not sarcasm.  Jay is almost too-good-to-be-true in his support of Violet and her decisions.)  While I think this is a very important part of the book, I honestly feel that the story—the search for “the collector” and the other psycho fixated on Violet—is more important.  The Last Echo was all about Violet and her issues with her ability, whether it helps her or puts her in the line of fire.  In the end, it was totally up to Violet to save herself.  (Also, I fully expect that the next book in this series will delve even deeper into the connection between Violet and Rafe.  At least, I hope so.)

Speaking of the next book, there’s no word yet on a title, cover, or synopsis, but it is expected to be released sometime in 2013, probably in the spring.

For more information on The Body Finder series, the author, and other books by Kimberly Derting, visit http://kimberlyderting.com/.  You can also follow the author on Twitter @kimberlyderting. 

Still not enough?  Well, check out this book trailer for The Last Echo from HarperTeen.  It’s pretty cool.  Enjoy!

Published in: on April 28, 2012 at 1:37 pm  Comments (2)  
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The Body Finder

About five minutes ago, I finished reading The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.  Holy crap on a cracker, is that an awesome book!  I was completely engrossed in the story, so much so that, earlier this evening, when I couldn’t get in touch with my parents, I was sure that something nefarious had happened to them.  (You may have noticed that I get a little too involved in the books I’m reading.)  Paranoia aside, The Body Finder is definitely a page-turner that you will not want to put down.

Violet Ambrose has a “gift.”  Well, some would consider her ability a gift.  She thinks of it as a curse.  When Violet was young, she discovered she had the power to find beings that had been murdered.  These beings, whether animal or human, left an echo behind.  It may be a sound, a smell, or even a taste, but these sensory perceptions could always lead Violet to whatever had been killed.  An imprint of this echo was also attached to the killer.  Many times these imprints were attached to animals, but sometimes Violet sensed imprints on people around her.  Did these people kill during war?  Did they hunt animals in the local woods?  Or did they do something more sinister?

When young girls begin disappearing in Violet’s small community, and Violet is led by her “gift” to one of the bodies, she knows that she can use her abilities to potentially stop a serial killer.  Yes, it will be dangerous.  Yes, she could end up a victim herself, but Violet is determined that she must do something to help stop this madman.

As if dealing with a possible serial killer isn’t enough, Violet is also facing some rather uncomfortable new feelings for her best friend, Jay.  He’s always been “just a friend,” but Violet wants more.  She just doesn’t know if Jay wants the same thing, and she doesn’t want to lose her best friend in the world.  Jay also knows about Violet’s abilities, and her determination to assist in the investigation puts yet another strain on their changing friendship.  What’s a girl to do?

Join Violet as she navigates the harsh world of first loves, mysterious abilities, and a killer on the loose when you read The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting.  Find out if it’s possible for a teenager to stop a killer before she becomes his next victim.

If you like Lisa McMann’s Wake series, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, or even Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott, I think you may find another winner in The Body Finder.  While most of the book is from Violet’s point of view, there are some glimpses into the mind of a predator.  It’s not always easy to read (especially at night when you’re alone), but it definitely adds to the story.

For more information on author Kimberly Derting, The Body Finder, or the upcoming sequel, Desires of the Dead, visit http://www.kimberlyderting.com/.

Published in: on September 28, 2010 at 8:57 pm  Comments (2)  
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