Thursday, February 6, 2014

THE KILLING WOODS by Lucy Christopher

The Killing WoodsEmily Shepherd's life is difficult.  Living with a father suffering from PTSD as a result of his wartime experiences and a mother who copes by turning to alcohol, doesn't make things easy.  She spends most of her free time wandering in the woods that surround their small home.  Time in the woods always provided a calming influence until the day her father stumbled home carrying the body of one of Emily's classmates.

At first glance Emily thought her father was bringing home an injured animal, perhaps a young deer.  A closer look revealed the body was a teenage girl, and suddenly Emily recognized the body was Ashlee Parker, and she was dead.

After being questioned by police, Emily's father is arrested and arraigned for the death of the popular local girl.  His defense of PSTD might allow him to be sentenced on a manslaughter charge rather than murder, but Emily doesn't believe he is guilty at all.  She is determined to prove his innocence, but that may be harder than she thinks since he doesn't remember anything that happened.

Damon, Ashlee's boyfriend, wants to see justice done as he heads back to the woods to find evidence to put Emily's father away forever.  Damon has his own concerns about Ashlee's death.  The night she was killed, she was with Damon and some other guys playing a warlike game they had created.  Because Damon was drunk and high, his memories of that night are sketchy at best. 

Emily and Damon run into each other in the woods as they each search for clues, and the stress of the situation results in an odd attraction between the two teens.  Who killed Ashlee?  Was it Emily's father or was Damon or someone responsible? 

Finding well-written mystery/thrillers for teens is often a challenge so THE KILLING WOODS by Lucy Christopher is a welcome addition to my classroom library.  Told in alternating voices (Emily and Damon) it will draw in readers as they try to stay one step ahead and figure out who is guilty in the death of Ashlee Parker and exactly what their punishment should be.

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