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.
Gytha Lodge is a multi-award-winning playwright, novelist and writer for video games and screen. She is also a single parent who blogs about the ridiculousness of bringing up a mega-nerd small boy.
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. She Lies in Wait will be released in January 2019 and can be preordered in the US and the UK here:
She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens #1) by Gytha Lodge (Author) (Narrator), John Hoskins (Narrator), Aimee-Ffion Edwards (Narrator), Joe Coen (Narrator)
In 1983, 14 year old Aurora reluctantly goes "camping" with six other teenagers. The other kids are 15-18 years old and one of them is her sister, who hates that Aurora is there. Everyone but Aurora is there for the drugs, alcohol, and sex but eventually Aurora is goaded into drinking more than water and orange juice. By the next morning, Aurora is missing and she is never found.
Thirty years later, campers find Aurora's body in a hole near the campsite. DCI Jonah Sheens, lead investigator, knew these teenagers all those years ago. He was a 19 year old rookie cop at the time and he takes this case personally. So starts the investigation with Sheens interviewing the six former teenagers and he has to filter through the fuzzy memories and lies of a group that practiced their sketchy version of events back when they occurred and are colluding to make their present day versions of the events keep them out of trouble now.
This story is all police procedural with some personal angst from Sheen, as he has some connection with these kids from long ago. He also has a new recruit, DC Juliette Hanson, anxious to prove herself while fending off an aggressive ex, who now seems to be stalking her. There are two books after this one and I'm hoping that we get to know more of Sheen's backstory (he's trying not to think of a woman who is missing from his life) and whether Hanson is able to resolve the issue of a scary ex. This story is more desk work, interviewing, and talk than it is action but I enjoyed the story, the deception, and the solving of the crime.
1983: Topaz, Coralie, Jojo, Benners, Connor, Brett and Aurora.
When Aurora Jackson accepts an invitation to go camping with her older sister and her friends, she has no idea it will be her last night alive.
The younger girl feels out of place as the older kids begin drinking, taking drugs, dancing and more.
The party goes late into the night, until everyone eventually passes out. In the morning, when the hungover teens awaken, they find nothing of Aurora but her cold, empty sleeping bag.
With no trace of Aurora found, suspicions of foul play circle the group of friends for the next thirty years.
Present Day: A young girl camping with her family, stumbles upon the bones of a human hand in a small cavern at the base of a tree.
Aurora has finally been found and so begins the gripping investigation that may finally conclude what happened on that ill-fated night in 1983.
The small-town detective in charge of the investigation, DCI Jonah Sheens, knew all the kids involved. In fact, when it happened, he was just a kid himself, at school with all the rest of them.
Trying to keep his past private, DCI Sheens and a great cast of fellow officers, slowly unravel what happened to poor Aurora on that night long ago.
This gripping Crime Thriller is told in a format of alternating timelines. You get to see what happened on that camping trip in 1983, as well as the police procedural aspects of the current investigation.
I thought the timelines were really well done and the pacing, for me, was perfect. I was so impressed with the fact that this is a debut novel.
I hope that Lodge continues on with DCI Sheens character. I enjoyed him and the other officers he had on his team.
I would absolutely continue on with this series, no question.
If you like Police Procedurals and split timeline narratives, you should check this one out. Plus, it is always great to support new authors.
Thank you so much to the publisher, Random House, for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.
I appreciate the opportunity and look forward to getting my hands on more Gytha Lodge books in the future!
Trigger Warnings: Rape, sexual assault, drug use and emotional abuse.
July 1983 - six teenagers go into the woods - only 5 come out!
After a night of partying in the woods, fourteen-year-old Aurora Jackson is missing. She went on the camping trip with her older sister, Topaz and her friends. After a night of drinking, the teens discover that Aurora's sleeping bag is empty and cold. Where has she gone? Who last saw her? Did she leave on her own? Did she wander off and get lost? Is someone responsible for her being missing?
Thirty years later, DCI Jonah Sheens is called in to investigate the remains found in the forest. Soon tests confirm that the body is Aurora Jackson. DCI Sheen begins to question the five teens who were with Aurora when she went missing. He knows these people, he went to school with them, but was not a member of their close-knit group. As each are interrogated, it becomes obvious that they were not entirely truthful when they were questioned thirty years ago. Were they just teens trying to stay out of trouble for underage drinking and sex or did they have something more sinister to hide?
This book is told in alternating time-lines. Aurora in the past and her experiences during the camping trip and in the present as Jonah investigates what happened in the woods that lead to Aurora's death. Have the group members changed over time? Are they still the cohesive group? Do any have secrets? Does anyone have any new information?
Although I enjoyed this book, I wanted it to be so much better. I can't fault the writing. I found the writing to be good. Plus, the premise is great - teens go camping in the woods - one is never seen or heard from again. But this lacked a little of the OOMPH I was expecting. I really didn't connect or care for any of the characters except for Aurora. The Detective on the case knows the teens but he was not friends with them. There really didn't seem to be too much of a connection there. He knew one of the members brothers. He didn't have any issues with the group in the past so there is not angst, no awkward moments, no issues really which would have made the investigation more interesting. I did guess the killer early in the book - this isn't a deal breaker for me but in terms of this book, I would have liked more of a mystery. Plus, the premise: six teens go into the woods - I think this would have worked better if I wasn't able to figure out the identity of the killer. I also would have liked this book to be darker. Plus, none of the adults seemed to be too shocked or upset when Aurora's body was found. Her sister was upset but the others seemed very unemotional. If I were camping and one member went missing and then his/her body was found, I would have been more emotional. After-all, they were there when she went missing, they were questioned as teens, suspicion was on them, that had to have been stressful and to finally know the truth, I don't know, they seemed more worried about themselves and if they would get in trouble for drugs they had as a teen then the fact that Aurora was found dead presumably murdered.
What I enjoyed the most about this book was Aurora's timeline. For me, this was the most interesting part of the book and I found the teens to be more interesting (in the past) than they were as adults.
I received a copy of this book from Random House Publishing and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are my own.
Gytha Lodge writes a well plotted debut, a mystery and police procedural, a cold case investigation of the murder of 14 year old Aurora Jackson, a young insecure and naive girl. In 1983 Aurora joins her good looking older sister, Topaz and her trendsetting friends on a camping trip in the forest. Topaz is less than happy to be stuck with Aurora, and the group proceed to indulge in heavy partying, involving drink, drugs and sex. The following morning, the group awaken in a heavy stupor with hazy memories of the previous night, only to find that Aurora has disappeared, triggering a frantic but unsuccessful police and community search for her. 30 years later, human remains have been discovered in the forest, Aurora has been lying in wait through all those years for the truth of what happened to her to emerge.
In a story that goes back and forth in time, DCI Jonah Sheen now heads the police team that is in charge of this cold case mystery, and he knows before it is confirmed that the remains are those of Aurora. The group of friends, having a tinge of suspicion attached to them through the years, have maintained their close relationships with each other. Jonah knew them from school, although he was not part of their cool circles, and as a rookie cop, he was part of the search party looking for Aurora. The police now engage in detailed interviews of the group and discover discrepancies, silence and less than the truth from the friends in their original statements. Are these signs of guilt, or largely a group of self absorbed and self serving friends desperate not to implicate themselves or each other? Additionally, Andrew Mackenzie, a member of the teaching staff at Aurora's school was camping not too far from the group of friends on the fateful night in 1983. This is a story of secrets, deception, intrigue and lies, mingling with intense jealousy and the overblown nature of teen dramas.
The police team are outlined well, and they too have secrets of their own. Jonah is a flawed character, but strong and steely in his determination to solve the mystery of Aurora's murder. Gytha Lodge provides a haunting depiction of the innocent Aurora, someone I really felt for throughout. You get a authentic picture of teen preoccupations and culture in the novel and the intensity of feelings and emotions experienced at that age. I found this a enjoyable and entertaining read, well constructed and with a great sense of location. I believe this is the first in a series, I will certainly be reading the next one. Many thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph for an ARC.
She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge is a 2019 Random House publication.
It’s 1983, and a group of popular kids are out camping together. Aurora Jackson is there with her older sister, Topaz- a situation Topaz is unhappy about and makes sure Aurora knows it. After a night of hard partying, though, it comes to her attention that Aurora is missing.
Now, thirty years later, tests confirm that the recently discovered remains of a young female are indeed that of Aurora Jackson. Jonah Sheens is the head investigator, but the case is a personal one for him. He happens to have a connection with the case, that if it came to light, might raise a few questions, or be construed as a conflict of interest. Working alongside him is rookie DC, Juliette Hanson, who is trying to make a good first impression.
Working the cold case opens a Pandora’s box of new memories, fresh information, and painful revelations for Jonah, and reopens old wounds for Aurora’s family and the teens who were present when she disappeared. Old and new suspects become targets of the investigation, while Jonah and Juliette try to focus on solving this case once and for all, despite their own personal issues. Will Jonah finally solve the case that has haunted him for thirty years?
I loved the cold case trope, one of my favorites in crime fiction, and I’m usually always up for a good British police procedural. My experience with pure procedural's is that they are often fairly straightforward, without too many bells and whistles. This book does follow that format, so don't expect much flair.
That said, the plot was well- developed, and executed. The story held my interest from start to finish- I did begin to piece the puzzle together but didn’t have a clue about the motive or how everything would eventually come together.
The professional chemistry between Jonah and Juliette was a little awkward, in my opinion, but I think that relationship was beginning to show promise. Juliette has a developing personal crisis running in the background, a situation I would love to see explored in future installments, as well.
Overall, the characterizations of the main characters need a little work, but other than that, this is a solid start to the series. I liked it well enough to give the second installment a try.
Of all of the genres that I love, and I do love a lot, the one I find myself immersed in most often is police procedurals. Police Procedurals are a sub-genre of “Detective/Crime novels” and are told from the police point of view, often involving several, often unrelated cases that seemingly come together in the end. I give you this definition because She Lies in Wait is, honestly, a perfect example of a British police procedural done well.
Thirty years ago, six teenagers went camping in the woods. Only five of them would awaken the next morning. Now, the body of the sixth friend, Aurora, has been discovered in a “grave” in the woods and it is up to DCI Jonah Sheens and his murder squad to uncover the details of what really happened that horrible night, a night filled with too much booze, drugs, consensual and non-consensual sex. Was one of the campers the killer or was it someone who knew they and the drugs would be at the campsite? They aren’t talking which leaves only the 30-year old, decomposed body of Aurora to tell her tale.
She Lies in Wait is a slow burning, methodical detective story where every clue, every person, every detail is thoroughly looked at and discussed. This is not a “thriller” or a “suspense” novel, it is procedural where you – the reader – are along for the ride with the police as they go through their investigation. If you go into this book expecting “edge of your seat” excitement, then you will be slightly disappointed. If, like me, you love and adore well written, hard core detective books, then this will be a winner! Lodge has crafted a story that has a lot of back-story in these once-teens/now-adult characters who have remained unusually close for thirty years. In addition, DCI Sheens was on the peripheral edges of the group and appears to have a bit of history with them as well, something he would like to keep hidden from the remainder of his squad. His squad, in turn, are an interesting group. The two men are complete opposite of one another: one quiet and thoughtful, the other gregarious, and the newest member, a female, has a few secrets of her own. The intrigue of all of the characters helps to push the storyline along.
I really do hate for books to be compared to one another, but I often thought that She Lies in Wait was quite similar to Tana French’s Dublin Murder Squad series. No doubt fans of that series would disagree, but the writing is similar and, of course, the methodology of the squad itself is the same. In addition, the way that both authors sink into the personal lives of the characters and weave it into the main story felt familiar to each and it was something I enjoy in both series.
If you enjoy police procedurals, particularly British ones, then I highly recommend She Lies in Wait. If you like a good mystery, I think you will enjoy it as well.
Thank you to #Netgalley, #RandomHousePublishingGroup and @thegyth for my copy of She Lies in Wait which will be published in the US on January 8, 2019.
Bones are found 30 years after a young girl goes missing on a camping trip. The DCI for the new homicide case, Jonah Sheens, was a young man at the time and knew the victim from school. This is the first in a new series involving Jonah Sheens.
The book focuses on trust and friendship. Six teenage friends go camping and only five return. But not all the relationships have held up, so the stories coming out now are different than they were at the time.
We learn not only about the relationships of the suspects but also the police team. There’s a new member, young DC Hanson, and Sheens is trying to see how she fits in.
There’s some good writing here; some interesting turns of phrase. “He was still angry, but old dog angry.” The plot goes back and forth between the camping trip interspersed with Sheen’s current investigation. It works well.
I had no clue who was responsible for the crime. Lodge does a great job of keeping multiple suspects a real possibility.
I enjoyed this and will definitely read the next in the series. I recommend it to anyone that likes a well done police procedural.
My Thanks to netgalley and Random House for an advance copy of this book.
A decades old disappearance brings the case back into the spotlight when the body is discovered. Secrets, deception, lies, and the search for the truth made this debut mystery by Gytha Lodge a gripping mystery that I couldn’t put down! I loved this book—everything from the premise to the characters were so engaging. I will be reading the next in this new series as soon as she can write it!
This book really centers around a tangled web of secrets and lies. On the fateful night Aurora disappeared, seven entered the campsite, but only six left. As the book opens over two decades after Aurora’s disappearance, we learn that she never left. Her body is discovered at the place she was last seen, in a hideaway that was used by the other six friends.
This tragedy should have split the friends apart, but instead it solidified them as a group. With each person protecting the others, there are a lot of secrets to be revealed as Jonah Sheens investigates the case. I thought this was an interesting twist, having them remain close for those 30 years.
Jonah Sheens is a fascinating character with a personal connection to the case. He was in school with the seven friends when Aurora disappeared. I really enjoyed Jonah as the central narrator and detective. He isn’t perfect, but he is committed to doing the investigation right and finding Aurora’s killer.
I had a LOT of guesses along the way about what happened, but I must admit I didn’t guess correctly! I was shocked at the ending! I look forward to reading more by Gytha Lodge in the future!
Thank you to Penguin Random House for my copy of this book!
DCI Jonah Sheens has been a cop for more than 30 years & heads up the station in Southampton. Between cases, management & meetings, days off are hard to come by. As the book opens he’s enjoying a rare chance to cycle in the hills until his phone rings. A body has been found near a campsite in New Forest. No clues, no witnesses. No problem. Jonah knows who it is.
Thirty years ago, he was a fresh faced newbie who joined the search for missing 14 year old Aurora Jackson. Her sister Topaz was camping with 5 of her friends, unhappy about being saddled with her baby sister. After a night of drinking, they crawled out of their tents to discover Aurora’s cold & empty sleeping bag. The alarm was raised & cops, friends & neighbours combed the area for days to no avail. The 6 teens were questioned endlessly but Aurora was never found.
In the present, Jonah mounts a new investigation after getting the autopsy results & his team of 3 detectives get to work. They can’t help but notice their boss is a tad antsy. For Jonah it’s not just another case. Turns out he went to school with these people although he was never one of them. They were the cool kids, the ones everyone wanted to emulate. As the investigation progresses, long suppressed memories come flooding back & Jonah begins to worry what his team might uncover.
That’s it for the plot. It’s best to go in knowing as little as possible so your jaw drops in all the right places. The story unfolds in 2 alternating time lines & both are engrossing. The past is narrated by Aurora & she’s a compelling character. Through her eyes we meet the 6 campers as teens & get caught up in all their angst, drama & petty jealousies. In the present we meet them again as they deal with Jonah. Some have changed, some haven’t. The difference is they may finally be ready to spill the secrets they’ve been keeping for 30 years.
I really enjoyed this. In some ways it reminded me of “Everything You Want Me to Be” by Mindy Mejia. There’s something about small towns & the intense relationships formed (or not) in high school. Everything is heightened because the world is so small at that point in a teen’s life. Each member of Topaz’s “golden” gang is integral to its survival & I’ll bet more than one of them will remind you of someone you knew at that age.
The detectives are also well portrayed & Jonah’s team are an interesting group. DC Juliette Hanson comes across as being wound a bit too tight & we gradually find out why. DS Domnall O’Malley is the calm voice of reason & experience, a deceptively low key guy who misses nothing. And then there’s DC Ben Lightman. Self contained & fastidious, he made me think of the old adage about still waters. I’m willing to bet there’s more to him than an analytical mind & pretty face. As for Jonah, he’s a decent man in a tight spot. You can’t help but sympathize with him as he struggles to maintain professional distance in a case that is so personal. It’s clear he has some memories he’d rather forget & I dreaded what might come out.
But it’s Aurora who steals the show. I found her captivating, a girl on the cusp who comes across as so authentic you can almost hear her voice. She’s at the age where she’s letting go of childhood & plagued by the insecurities & shaky self esteem that afflict so many young girls. But she also has an ethereal quality that sets her apart, completely unaware of her allure.
All is revealed by the end & Aurora can finally be laid to rest. Topaz & her crew will never be the same & Jonah too has to deal with some of the fallout. It’s an engaging, well told story you’ll resent having to put down & I look forward to book #2.
She Lies in Wait sounded like perfect thriller to dive into.......
Aurora Jackson has been missing for over 30 years... until one night a father and child stumble upon scattered bones during a camping trip.
Detective Jonah Sheens is hired onto the scene to investigate what happened to Aurora. After analysis, it is deemed that Aurora was brutally murdered at the campsite.
The story slowly unfolds to reveal what happened to Aurora that fateful night she was murdered. The author slowly leaves bread crumbs to understand the evil mystery.... starting with flashbacks. The author paints a picture of Aurora, her sister Topaz, and Topaz's friends engaging in partying and drinking. But, it appears that Detective Sheens keeps running into dead ends and can't find the answers. Who is covering up this sinister crime and can she help find the answers for Aurora and her loved ones?
So.. unfortunately I'm not going to sugar coat this review at all. This was really bad in all honestly. I felt like this was almost the exact storyline of Riley Sager's Finals Girls but was a hot mess. This story fell completely FLAT for me and was pretty bored. I skimmed maybe the last 40 percent of the book because I was just over it.
I'm not too fond of police procedural novels because they tend to be the SAME storylines but different character/names. I took a break from these types of stories but sadly I remembered why I stopped reading to begin with.
And not to mention... the story was SUPER obvious... I found out the mystery about 30 percent in.
Thank you Netgalley and Random House Publishing for the advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.
2.5 stars. Started off a lot stronger than it ended.
DCI Jonah Sheens is leading the case on the discovery of the decomposed body of Aurora, a fourteen-year-old girl who died thirty years prior on a camping trip in the woods. Sheens pulls the group of Aurora’s friends together to be questioned just as they were thirty years ago when she went missing. New details and clues are uncovered that lead in several different directions.
This was an easy and entertaining read that unfolded between two timelines and multiple perspectives. I was curious and invested for the first half of the book, but as it progressed, my interest declined. The novel lacked any draw of suspense or tension. I was confused between characters a few times and found the way their narratives were presented lacked flow at times. The characters themselves weren’t likeable but the mystery of the death did keep me curious until the end.
Many plot aspects were convenient which took away from my investment. People happening to remember important things from 30 years prior did not seem believable to me.
Overall, this was an easy, mindless read which is great when the time is right. I just expected a bit more from it.
Audio rating: 4 stars! I enjoyed the various narrators and what they brought to the story.
Thank you to NetGalley for the review copy! Thank you to my local library for the loan of the audio.
2/2.5 stars The challenge with this novel is that the detectives are solving a thirty-year-old investigation, so if someone did murder 14-year-old Aurora, that person has gotten away with it for thirty years. You want to know the details about the crime, but it’s not exactly time sensitive about solving it.
Detective Jonah Sheens had just joined the police force at 19-years-old when Aurora went missing from a campsite where she was with her older sister, Topaz, and five of Topaz’s friends. DCI Sheens, Detective Juliette Hansen, and other detectives interview all the friends again. Though DCI Sheens had gone to school with the beautiful sisters, they were younger than he was and he didn’t know them well. His vague connection to them isn’t enough to get you seeing things from his perspective, so again, while you’re interested in the details being revealed, you’re not rooting for him in particular because you never get to know anything beyond superficial details about him.
There weren’t any cops or characters I bonded with, and the ending was disappointing. I can’t go into detail about why I didn’t like the ending without giving away important plot points, but it frustratingly too little too late and not just for Aurora’s death.
Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this novel, which releases January 8, 2019.
WOW! I loved this book! This story captivated my attention from page one and commanded.my attention until the last word on the final page. Now that is a feat not many books can achieve to that degree.
The book revolves around a tightly knit group of six friends from young teenagers in the year 1983 until the present thirty years later. There is another member of the group and they are the focus of this wonderful crime, mystery drama and who has their own unique story to tell and a character that I will long remember.
The story also delves deeply into the police department and detectives who are handling a possible murder, sexual promiscuity and drug activity that may have taken place in 1983. This story is so well-written that I can't wait to read another novel by Gytha Lodge!
I could not stop reading this book wanting to know.what each character was thinking and doing in the past and the present. This author had every transition from past to present flow so smoothly that I couldn't wait to fervently read each chapter which would keep going back and forth with such exquisite storytelling. I just loved this book and want to read more that are this on this level.
Well Done Gytha Lodge!
I want to thank Netgally and Random house Group Publishing for.the.opportunity.to read this ARC and.I have given my honest and unbiased opinion.
I highly recommend.this excellent book and have.given a rating of 5 Excellent 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 stars!!
One summer night in July of 1983, Aurora Jackson and her older sister, Topaz, go on an overnight camping trip with a group of their fellow teens. Excited for the promise of hot dogs, roasted marshmallows, and sleeping outside under the stars, Aurora tags along hoping for some nice, clean fun.
But when Topaz wakes up the next morning, Aurora is gone. Her sleeping bag looks like it was never slept in and no one remembers when they last saw her at the campsite. They search the area, but come up empty. Despite quickly reaching out to the police, who organized an intense investigation, it seems that Aurora has simply vanished into thin air.
So when, three decades later, a young family on a camping trip of their own calls in a panic, DCI Jonah Sheens is quick to respond. He remembers that scorching summer when they hunted for young Aurora all too well. Just a young police constable himself at the time, he’s always felt particularly close to the case. After all, he grew up in the same small town as the group of teens and knew them personally, including Aurora.
It seems the family has found what is left of Aurora hidden in a hollow not far from the campsite. Despite repeated, long, detailed searches of the area, the police had somehow missed finding her thirty years ago. The only problem is, the hiding spot that became Aurora’s final resting place was known only to the six teenagers. How did she end up there? And why did no one find her until now?
Determined to finally root out the truth, Jonah dives into the murky details from all those years ago. One by one, lies are uncovered and secrets are exposed. But the closer he gets to what really happened, the more horrifying the situation turns out to be. What transpired that night out in those woods? Was Aurora simply in the wrong place at the wrong time? Or was her death a matter of fate?
Holy cannoli! For the second time, She Lies in Wait utterly blew me away. The absolute epitome of what a police procedural should be, I found myself wrapped up from the very start. Even better, the twists and turns kept me mesmerized in a way that only Gytha Lodge seems to be able to manage.
Right from the get-go, my favorite aspect of this riveting read was the CID team investigating Aurora’s death. From the smart yet flawed Detective Chief Inspector to the black-and-white newbie on the team, each were both unbelievably genuine and true-to-life in a way that is rarely found in crime fiction. Best of all, each character was explored even more with an expertly engineered subplot that left me spellbound. Now I just can’t wait to rediscover how they’re further developed in the ensuing books.
Next up was the truly sublime climax and conclusion that rounded out a top-notch plot. After a healthy dose of deftly hidden clues, I was nevertheless blind to the ultimate reveal of what really happened all those years ago. Maybe a better armchair sleuth could have figured it all out, but the high number of red herrings and veritable suspects kept me happily in the dark.
Alternating between the night Aurora disappeared and the police investigation in the present, I was pleased to experience it firsthand via multiple POVs. Well-written and beautifully organized, this cold case held plenty of intrigue and suspense. But it was the unraveling of the thickly packed lies and secrets that kept this plot rolling. Well, that and the superb characters, of course.
While this book was decidedly light on action, the pacing, in my opinion, was absolute perfection throughout. With delicious backstories and one heck of a shocking revelation, I wholeheartedly give it two avid thumbs up. So if you love a good British detective story, add this entire series to your TBR. You most certainly won’t regret it. Rating of 5 stars.
Trigger warning: missing child, drug and alcohol use, child abuse, witness intimidation, arson, fatal climbing accident, emotional abusive relationship, drug overdose, rape, pedophilia, mention of: gaslighting, infidelity, drug dealing, stalking
July 1983 five teenage friends and one of their little sisters aged fourteen go camping in the forest. The friends spend the night drinking and partying, all except Aurora Jackson who takes her sleeping bag to the edge of the camp to get some sleep. In the morning her sleeping bag is empty and she is no-where to be found. Worried for her safety the friends send for the police who spend weeks combing the area but they have no luck in finding her.
Thirty years later and a little girl on a camping trip is trying to hide from her brother and father when she discovers a hollow under a tree that she thinks will make a great hiding place, unfortunately, she instead discovers a body instead.
DCI Sheens is sent to the scene and he doesn’t need to wait for forensics to know whose body has been found. Back in 1983, he was a rookie cop on the case of missing Aurora, he also went to the same school as her and the friends who were there the night she disappeared.
For thirty years the group of five have always declared they knew nothing about Aurora’s disappearance but her body was discovered in a hideaway only they knew about. Did Aurora somehow manage to hurt herself or has one of the other five got a secret that may just be about to be discovered?
The story moves back and forth between the present day and the day of the camping trip in 1983. I’m not normally a fan of books that move back and forth in time but this one really worked well.
Whilst the plot might not be unique and I could see resemblances to other books that I have read, the execution and the writing were superb and I was invested in the plot from the prologue. I enjoyed getting to delve into the characters lives, not only the teenagers and then the same group as adults but the detectives too.
This is a case that DCI Sheens hold dear to him as he has a history with it. He wants to know what happened to Aurora, who possibly killed her and why they missed her thirty years ago.
The pace does slow down in the middle but picks up again towards the end. I had guessed what had happened to Aurora long before anything was revealed but whether that was down to the plot being too easy to work out or that I read probably 200 thriller/crime books a year and I am used to spotting the signs I’m not sure, though I will admit to having a different explanation at first.
This is the first book in a planned series and I now can’t wait to meet DCI Sheens and the team again.
She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge is the first book in the new police procedural thriller DCI Jonah Sheens series. This first book of the series has our new detectives in search of a killer from a cold case that is over thirty years old. The chapters alternate between the current investigation and the past when the young girl had gone missing.
In July of 1983 Aurora Jackson had gone on a camping trip with her older sister Topaz and Topaz’s friends. Being a few years younger than the group Aurora was nervous and excited to finally be included with the others but when the partying started Aurora was definitely out of her element.
Now more than thirty years later a bone is found not too far away from that original campsite and when tested it’s found to belong to the missing Aurora. Jonah Sheens is put in charge of the case and determined to find out just what happened back then when he was just starting his career as a policemen.
Well, when finished with She Lies in Wait really the best I could come up with would be well, it’s OK. This one unfortunately was just one of those titles that really didn’t seem to grab me much at all and just seemed to be there. There isn’t anything really particularly wrong with it other than maybe dragging here and there but the characters just weren’t ones I connected with. Perhaps the series will pick up the intensity but only 3 stars for this opener so far.
I received an advance copy from the publisher via NetGalley.
A group of friends take a drug-filled camping trip. A girl goes missing. 30 years later, a British detective with a history entwined with the friend group has to uncover decades-old secrets with the discovery of the young girl's body...not 100 yards away from the original campsite.
She Lies in Wait involves one of my favorite mystery/thriller tropes: the tight friend group in isolation, and a dead body that points to all of them as the guilty party. Who among them did it? I love it. Give it to me every time and I'll enjoy it no matter what.
Aurora Jackson was 14 years old when she accompanied her older sister, Topaz, and Topaz's friends on a camping trip in the British woods. She was ethereal, enigmatic, and shy—and not at all the type of girl who would have accompanied this group for their weekend of drug-fueled rock and roll. After a night of bad decisions, the group wakes up to find Aurora missing.
30 years later, Aurora is the area's most famous cold case. That is, until a young girl discovers the body hidden in a hollow at the base of a tree next to the remains of several Dexedrine packets.
DCI Jonah Sheens is a detective that feels like many other detectives. He has a decayed personal life, an addiction to generic black coffee, and a personal reason to care about the Aurora Jackson case. I found him to be the blandest part of She Lies in Wait, which was interesting as this book is supposed to be the start of a Jonah Sheens-led detective series. He was plain white toast. I was mildly intrigued to his connections to the case—they didn't appear to be very strong and seemed to come and go as the narrative required—but besides his connections, the narrative spent an equal amount of time focusing on his young policewoman new recruit, DC Hanson. Hanson was both more personally interesting and more involved with several points of the plot. To be honest, I'd like to read more books about her.
She Lies in Wait had the right amount of intrigue to keep me reading, but only just. The narrative bounced between several points of view in the novel, including sections of Aurora's last night alive as she encounters the events leading up to her murder, as well as several of the friends in their modern-day adult lives. It felt like a strange mash-up between a standard detective story—where the POV is only coming from the detective, and maybe the victim as flashbacks—and a more modern approach where the POVs are the potential suspects. It didn't not work, but it did make this novel hard to identify with as the detective was so bland.
The reveal at the end of the novel was slightly more intriguing than I was expecting. It didn't wow me, but it didn't upset me either. I have to admit, I guessed it quite early on and kept it on the back burner as other theories were pushed to the forefront by the narrative. I wish She Lies in Wait had relied less on a very standard crime construct, but at the same time it was almost refreshing to read something so baseline after the extreme twists and turns of other mystery/thrillers.
I don't know, folks. It was a mixed bag. Recommended for those who are not overly tied to the concept of a detective mystery or a standard multiple-POV thriller, and are willing to take a step back and read a mostly enjoyable standard mystery.
Original notes: Not bad for a debut mystery/thriller, but it had some flaws and had a harder time holding my attention. Review to come!
Aurora Jackson has been missing for over 30 years, until now. When a young child and her father stumble on bones scattered near their campsite, detective Jonah Sheens is brought in to investigate. After futher analysis, it's reported that the bones are Aurora Jackson's. The mystery to where she has been is discovered—she was murdered.
As Jonah Sheens investigates the night of Aurora's disappearance in the woods, the reader is given flashbacks to that fateful night. Aurora, her sister Topaz, and Topaz's friends were teenagers living teenage lives—drinking, partying, risky behavior. What went wrong that night in the woods, and why is someone covering their tracks so Jonah can't find the truth?
I was really disappointed in She Lies in Wait, because I felt that the story could have been darker, and less obvious. I figured out the story before I was even 20% into the mystery. If you've read any of Riley Sager's books, this novel is basically a retelling/combination of Final Girls, and The Last Time I Lied. The writing was very good, but the story itself just fell flat for me. I can't really get into the story any further, but it's definitely a light mystery at best. I'm not sure I'm interested in getting any further in the DCI Jonah Sheens series, but if you are looking for a realistic detective/police procedural, then She Lies in Wait might be for you.
Thank you Netgalley for my advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. She Lies in Wait will be released January 10, 2019.
July 1993, a group teenagers go camping in the forest. It's a scorching night and Aurora Jackson, the youngest member of the group, was delighted to be allowed to tag along. As the night progresses, they drink, dance and kiss. Some of them slip into the woods in pairs. But in the morning, Aurora has disappeared. An investigation was launched, but no trace of the teenager was ever found. Thirty years later, Aurora's body was unearthed in a hideaway that only the six friends knew about. Jonah Sheens is put in charge of solving this cold case.
This is the first book in a new police procedural series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens. He was new to the police force but was still involved in the first investigation into Auroras disappearance. We get flashbacks through Auroras eyes of what happened thirty years ago. There is also plenty of curve balls but I still guessed correctly who the killer was. We get some background information on Sheen and his fellow teammates, not all of it is good though. I'm looking forward to reading the next instalment to this series.
I would like to thank NetGalley, Penguin UK - Michael Joseph and the author Gytha Lodge for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
I received a free e-copy of She Lies in Wait (DCI Jonah Sheens, #1) by Gytha Lodge from NetGalley for my honest review.
I thoroughly enjoyed this page-turning mystery. It started off a little slow but it quickly picked up and I stayed up through the night to finish it.
In 1983 seven teenagers go camping in the woods. When everyone wakes up the next morning, they realize that Aurora is missing. There is an investigation but nothing is found.
Thirty years later, Aurora’s bones are found in a place that only the other six knew about. Who is the killer? The cold case is re-opened but it seems everyone is lying. Are the friends behind the murder? Are the detectives covering for the girls or are they involved somehow?
I really enjoyed the switching of times between Aurora and the night she goes missing and then the re-opened investigation thirty years later. It seemed like every chapter convinced you that a different person was somehow responsible for what happened that night. You might think you have this figured out but you will quickly change your mind again and again.
Beautifully written literary mystery set over two timelines following a group of friends who go on a camping trip where one of their number gets left behind. We also follow the investigation 30 years later.
Great characters, absorbing sense of place and time, reminded me very much of Tana French a favourite author of mine.
Looking forward to talking more about this one nearer publication.
Thanks to Netgalley and Random House Publishing for an e-ARC in exchange for an honest review. First thing I did when I woke up this morning was reach for this book. Not that I need a new series to dive in, but this one sounded too good to pass up. My favorite police procedurals are the cold case ones and this involved a thirty year old disappearance of a teenage girl and the suspects in her murder were all teens themselves. But when Aurora Jackson's remains are discovered by a family on a camping weekend, DCI Jonah Sheens and his team soon learn that there might be someone in the group that needs to start talking.
Despite the desire for a bit of a darker more sinister investigation and a little less obvious killer, I read this book in one sitting and I am now looking forward to where our characters might be headed next.
A group of teens go camping, and one of them goes missing. Thirty years later, the missing girl's remains are found. The investigation looks into what happened that night in the woods.
Told with alternating timelines - the night the teens gathered in the woods to camp and the investigation thirty years later. I enjoy the alternating timelines, especially when there is such a big difference in time. Aurora is the missing girl, and the past is told from her point of view. The present is from the investigation side. This worked well. It made it more intriguing to guess who of the teens were telling the truth and who was trying to hide something.
This is a straightforward police procedural. A girl goes missing, stays missing for years, then her body is discovered. The police investigate to find who killed her and why. I enjoy these types of books, but this one did fall a little flat. I didn't really connect to the characters, so that held something back for me. It's a good read though, and one I would recommend to fans of British crime fiction.
I received an eARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
A Spellbinding Debut! Terrifying suspence from cover to cover!
She moved into the shadows under the bank, her eyes dazzled. There were blue patterns everywhere she looked. A spreading beech tree was above her, and roots arced out of the soil like flattened croquet hoops. Her foot caught on one. She stumbled, her heart jolting as she thought she might fall into the water. The river was dirty in the shadows under the tree, ominous. But she wasn’t really close enough to fall in, and she regained her balance. In front of her was a scooped-out section of earth the shape of a hammock that made her want to nestle in it. “Jessie!” Great. It was her dad this time, and closer by. He was using the kind of voice that wanted an answer. But in front of her was the cool earth, and a hiding place. She stretched one foot down into the hollow, and then the other. She felt immediately cooler, and took a seat on the slightly crumbly soil. She imagined herself as an early villager, sheltering in the woods while Vikings raided her home. But it wasn’t as soft as she’d expected. Ridges of root pressed against her pelvis and back. She squirmed left and right, trying to find a comfortable spot. Her shorts snagged, and she felt a jab in her leg. She pushed a hand down to disentangle the cloth from the root, and then felt it crumble in her hand. She lifted it and saw not old wood but flakes of brown, and the bleach-white shapes of freshly exposed bone. She didn’t need her GP father to tell her she was holding a human finger.
******** **Newly released! January 8, 2019!
Debut novel She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge is a spellbinding, terrifying, and exciting beginning to a new series starring DCI Jonah Sheens! Right from the start, I was intrigued and drawn in and the story held my full attention all the way through to the surprising conclusion! The strong character development, unique storyline, and thrilling, fast paced, terrifying suspence made this debut a five star, highly enjoyable novel! I look for very good things to come from this exciting new author, Gytha Lodge!
Thanks to NetGalley, Random House Publishing, and Gytha Lodge for an advanced, uncorrected digital proof for me to read and review.
**The quote above came from the final, published copy.
What could have happened to Aurora? Someone knows but isn't telling.
Uncovering bones from a thirty-year-old disappearance/murder case wasn’t something the police thought would happen after their very thorough search and investigation back then.
The remains of fourteen-year-old Aurora Jackson was a shock to the six teens that had been with her as well as the town and her parents. Everyone believed she had been kidnapped or had run away not murdered.
SHE LIES IN WAIT goes back and forth from 1983 to the present telling the story of what happened at the campsite, how the investigation was exhaustive and came up with nothing, and moves to present day with the interviewing of the now-adult teens and the re-opening of the case.
Opening the case meant bringing the six friends together at the station for a meeting. Was that a good idea or had there been collaboration beforehand? Are they all only going to try to save themselves? Will one of the friends say things that had not been said before and reveal something that could get that person arrested?
The investigation turned up some facts that had been overlooked and involved a person that was not one of the six friends.
SHE LIES IN WAIT moves smoothly from one chapter to the next and holds your interest because of all the questions about what really happened and who was lying back then and who was still lying now.
If you enjoy being a detective, you will definitely enjoy SHE LIES IN WAIT.
The story line is good and nicely carried out with some twists and of course secrets being kept. 5/5
This book was given to me as an ARC by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Aurora Jackson disappeared thirty years ago at age fourteen. She went camping with her sister, Topaz, and five of Topaz's friends. Topaz reluctantly let her kid sister tag along. No one ever saw Aurora again. Thirty years later, a body is found. DCI Jonah Sheens and DC Hanson are called to the scene, but Jonah already knows that it's Aurora. He's been waiting for this discovery for years. During the original investigation, all six friends maintained their stories and their innocence. But now Jonah is determined to find out what really happened to Aurora.
"It was where seven kids had bedded down thirty years ago, but only six of them had got up in the morning."
This was one of the ARCs that I requested simply because the story sounded interesting, and it really was. I couldn't shake the feeling while I was reading that the storyline felt somewhat familiar, but that didn't detract from what was a pretty strong police procedural, especially for an author debut. The book is fairly long--there is a lot of buildup to our ending--but I thought it was all well-done. Jonah is an intriguing character; it's made known early on that he had a small role in the first investigation when Aurora disappeared, and he clearly is hiding something, which isn't revealed for quite some time. But he's a good investigator, too, and it was sort of fun wondering if you could fully trust him (with Hanson, the newbie, as his foil).
"He found it impossible not to remember this place as it had been back then. The car park had all been bark and mud, but it had been just as overrun by police. The haircuts different; the faces somehow the same."
The way the story is told--snippets of the past (including from her point of view), plus Jonah and Hanson investigating in the present--is interesting and moves the story along. It certainly keeps you wondering as things unravel. While the limited number of characters (especially at the camp ground thirty years ago) lowers our amount of suspects, it's easy to speculate about each one.
Plus, all the characters in this one are detailed. I found it a little complicated to keep track of everyone at first--especially all the boys at the campground--but they were strong characters and knowing so much about them made figuring out who killed Aurora all the more compelling. Aurora herself is a lovely character, and I felt for her. When our suspect was revealed, it all ended a little crazily yet easily, but this was still a good read for me.
Overall, this was an interesting mystery, with a detailed plot and characters. I look forward to Lodge's next book. 3.75 stars.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher and Netgalley in return for an unbiased review (thank you!).
In her debut thriller novel, Gytha Lodge writes a dark and riveting novel that spans 30 years. Aurora Jackson was delighted to be going overnight camping with her sister Topaz and four of Topaz’s friends. As a bright but awkward 14 she was thrilled to be included. After an evening of dancing, talking and sitting by the fire, all six retired for the night. When morning arrived, there was no sign of Aurora. A search which included local cop Jonah Sheens was conducted. No results. The five remaining had no explanation for Auroras whereabouts. The disappearance remains unsolved. Fast forward 30 years to a young girl playing by a river in the same woods and finds what turns out to be the remains of a fourteen year old girl. Aurora has been found. Now DCI Jonah Sheens is called onto find out what had happened in 1983. Well versed in police procedure, respected and a past acquaintance of the remaining “campers” Jonah must dig deeply into the past to discover everyone’s secrets and solve the mystery of Aurora’s disappearance. The transition from 1983 to the present are handled with ease and an effortless style. Along the way the character of Jonah Sheens is examined and developed. Clues about his life peak our interest and you can see why there might be future novels in which he plays a prominent role. This is a well written novel that allows you to think you know what is going on only to lead you to second guess yourself. Thus you have an interesting novel. I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley. #NetGalley #SheLiesInWait
Thirty years ago 7 teenagers went on a camping trip in the woods and 14 year old Aurora Jackson disappeared, until her body turned up in the prologue of this book. If you read a lot of thrillers, or just look at their blurbs, you know that whenever a group of teenagers gets together someone winds up dead and the rest of the kids keep their secrets for decades. I think I read at least two books with this plot last year. This trope is not improved by repetition, and unless the author puts some creative twist on it the book just falls flat for me. Unfortunately, that was the case with this book. It wasn’t bad, but I felt like I had read it before.
I understand why authors follow this formula. It gives the police a closed loop of suspects who they can question repeatedly. The police heard a lot of revelations about sex and drugs. I gather that this book is to be the start of a new police procedural series featuring DCI Jonah Sheens. Having introduced him in this book, I hope that the next one contains less about his troubled childhood. I also don’t want to know any more about DC Juliette Hanson’s abusive ex boyfriend. It took the entire book for her to figure out that she could block his phone number, and do they not have restraining orders in England? This book was not terribly original but the writing showed enough promise that I might try the author’s next book.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
My thoughts: I’d like to give this mystery a 3.5 ⭐️ rating, but Goodreads doesn’t have that function so I’m rounding down to 3 ⭐️’s. If you enjoy detective series, it’s worth reading.
**My apologies to Ms. Lodge. I feel that my reading preferences, rather than her book or writing skills influenced review**
This is the author’s debut and the beginning of a series. It’s told in alternating timelines—past (30 years earlier) and present. It was well-written, but not thrilling enough for me. As with most mysteries, there are plenty of secrets. Even the police are keeping some interesting secrets of their own.
A series has to be unputdownable for me to become invested, and this one just didn’t fit that bill. I didn’t relate to any of the characters. And even though it leaves several unanswered questions, it doesn’t bother me to let them stay unanswered.
The story is centered around the discovery of the body (actually the bones) of a teenage girl that went missing 30 years earlier. A group of teenagers went camping. Actually, the camping trip was more of an excuse to party. Aurora is much younger and only allowed to tag along because her big sister is in the group.
There was a fairly large cast of characters, and because I didn’t relate to any of them, I had a hard time keeping them straight. There is also a lot going on with different characters, so that was confusing at times.
But as I said earlier, if detective/crime series are your thing, you should check it out.
Thank you to NetGalley and Random House for this digital ARC, in exchange for my honest review. #NetGalley #SheLiesInWait
My Rating: 3.5 ⭐️ Published: January 8th 2019 by Random House Pages: 368
Off to the races! This is a great debut novel and is the beginning of a new series starring DCI Jonah Sheens. Basically it is a well-done police procedural.
Thirty years ago six friends went camping and one 14-year-old girl disappeared and was never found. Fast forward to present day and some bones are found near the campsite. The mystery is to solve what actually happened. The story is told in two timelines with Aurora narrating the past and then the investgation happening during the present. It was an effective method in this case.
I have to say I enjoyed the writing style and felt the case was investigated by an interesting team of "coppers" (I do love British mysteries!). I liked following the various paths of the investigation to the result. With six on the camping trip with more than one thing to hide it was fun to see how it unfolded. I would recommend the book and would read the next one when it is available.
Thanks to Gytha Lodge and Random House Publishing Group through Netgalley for an advance copy.