She Lies in Wait (Lodge)

She Lies in Wait 
Gytha Lodge, 2019
Random House
368 pp.

Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust? A teen girl is missing after a night of partying; thirty years later, the discovery of her body reopens a cold case in an absorbing novel featuring a small-town cop determined to finally get to the truth.

On a scorching July night in 1983, a group of teenagers goes camping in the forest.

Bright and brilliant, they are destined for great things, and the youngest of the group—Aurora Jackson—is delighted to be allowed to tag along.

The evening starts like any other—they drink, they dance, they fight, they kiss. Some of them slip off into the woods in pairs, others are left jealous and heartbroken. But by morning, Aurora has disappeared. Her friends claim that she was safe the last time they saw her, right before she went to sleep. An exhaustive investigation is launched, but no trace of the teenager is ever found.

Thirty years later, Aurora’s body is unearthed in a hideaway that only the six friends knew about, and Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving the long-cold case. Back in 1983, as a young cop in their small town, he had known the teenagers—including Aurora—personally, even before taking part in the search.

Now he’s determined to finally get to the truth of what happened that night. Sheens’s investigation brings the members of the camping party back to the forest, where they will be confronted once again with the events that left one of them dead, and all of them profoundly changed forever.

This searing, psychologically captivating novel marks the arrival of a dazzling new talent, and the start of a new series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1983-84
Where—Cambridge, England, UK
Education—B.A., Cambridge University; M.A., University of East Anglia
Currently—lives in Cambridge, England

Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist for adults and young-adults, and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd young son.

She has a profound addiction to tea, crosswords and awful puns. When not writing, she heads up a copywriting team at a global translation firm, where she generally tries to keep all the video-game writing to herself.

She studied English at Cambridge, where she became known quite quickly for her brand of twisty, dark yet entertaining drama. She later took the Creative Writing MA at UEA.

She has signed with Penguin Random House worldwide for the first three books in her crime series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens. The first volume, She Lies in Wait, was released in  2019.
(From the author's Amazon page. Retrieved 1/28/2019.)

Book Reviews

This enjoyably chilling suspense tale by Gytha Lodge conveys both the thrills and the dangers of being a teenager on the brink of adult independence.… The obvious questions of how [Aurora Jackson] died and at whose hand are properly dealt with. But the fascination of this story is in the character studies of the surviving children, all grown up now and participants in a dark mystery that they all wish had never seen the light of day.
Marilyn Stasio - New York Times Book Review

The discovery of [a body] 30 years later… catapults Southampton Det. Chief Insp. Jonah Sheens back to one of his first—and most haunting—investigations.… Lodge smoothly intercuts the present-day… with flashbacks… a promising start to a planned series.
Publishers Weekly

Neatly plotted and nicely atmospheric.… This British import is plausible and eminently satisfying. Encore, please.

(Starred review)  Sheens and his team are compassionate, clever, and likable.… [I]ntrigues and twists, offer… enough red herrings… to please fans of the genre. There are already two more DCI Sheens novels in the works—hooray!
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers Generic Mystery Questions for SHE LIES IN WAIT … then take off on your own:

Mystery / Crime / Suspense Thrillers

1. Talk about the characters, both good and bad. Describe their personalities and motivations. Are they fully developed and emotionally complex? Or are they flat, one-dimensional heroes and villains?

2. What do you know...and when do you know it? At what point in the book do you begin to piece together what happened?

3. Good crime writers embed hidden clues in plain sight, slipping them in casually, almost in passing. Did you pick them out, or were you...clueless? Once you've finished the book, go back to locate the clues hidden in plain sight. How skillful was the author in burying them?

4. Good crime writers also tease us with red-herrings—false clues—to purposely lead readers astray? Does your author try to throw you off track? If so, were you tripped up?

5. Talk about the twists & turns—those surprising plot developments that throw everything you think you've figured out into disarray.

  • Do they enhance the story, add complexity, and build suspense?
  • Are they plausible or implausible?
  • Do they feel forced and gratuitous—inserted merely to extend the story?

6. Does the author ratchet up the suspense? Did you find yourself anxious—quickly turning pages to learn what happened? A what point does the suspense start to build? Where does it climax...then perhaps start rising again?

7. A good ending is essential in any mystery or crime thriller: it should ease up on tension, answer questions, and tidy up loose ends.Does the ending accomplish those goals?

  •  Is the conclusion probable or believable?
  •  Is it organic, growing out of clues previously laid out by the author (see Question 3)?
  • Or does the ending come out of the blue, feeling forced or tacked-on?
  • Perhaps it's too predictable.
  • Can you envision a different or better ending?

8. Are there certain passages in the book—ideas, descriptions, or dialogue—that you found interesting or revealing...or that somehow struck you? What lines, if any, made you stop and think?

9. Overall, does the book satisfy? Does it live up to the standards of a good crime story or suspense thriller? Why or why not?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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