Title: She Lies in Wait
Author: Gytha Lodge
Series: DCI Jonah Sheens #1
Publisher: Random House
Release Date: January 8, 2019
Pages: 368
Book Source: Hardcover

“On a scorching July night in 1983, a group of teenagers goes camping in the forest. When they wake in the morning the youngest of their group, Aurora Jackson, has disappeared. An exhaustive investigation is launched, but no trace of the teenager is ever found.
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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.
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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.” – Amazon

Scott’s Review

SHE LIES IN WAIT is a book judging from the synopsis is one I knew I wanted to read. Six teenagers head out into the woods on a camping trip and only five make it through the night back in 1983. Fast forward to 30 years later and the missing body of Aurora Jackson is located in the hollowed-out hole of a tree. DCI Jonah Sheens is now the head honcho overseeing this cold case. The kicker as referenced in the synopsis above is the fact that Jonah knew the teenagers personally at the time. He went to school with a few of them. The original group that went camping 30 years ago is now at the forefront of the investigation. Jonah and his team of detectives need to formally interview them, bring them in for questioning and crack the case of Aurora’s death.

“You know I didn’t mean for her to die.”

I really, really struggled with this book. I started this book a few days before I went on a camping trip. I read a couple of epic titles while camping and then I came home and it took a lot of energy for me to pick this one back up. I knew this was going to happen, too. I knew it. I should have plowed through it before I went on vacation, but I found myself reading less and less each night desperately trying to slog through all of these words. I almost didn’t finish it, but I ain’t no quitter!

Right off the bat, I had waaaaaaaaay too many characters thrown at me in a matter of just a few pages. Talk about information overload! You’ve got the six main teenagers, their friends, family members and teachers. Then you’ve got the DCI, all of the detectives on his team and the people in their immediate lives. Are you kidding me? Am I reading a work of fiction or should I be taking notes like I’m studying for an exam? Holy cast of characters, Batman! I don’t think I’m a simple-minded individual by any stretch, but I’m only several dozen pages in and I’m already asking – what in the hell is happening right now? It was just way too much. If I need to take notes, like, “Aurora – dead chick. Topaz – dead chick’s sister. Brett – douchebag extraordinaire. Mackenzie – one of the teachers of the dead chick.” then I know I’m royally screwed.

In addition to the massive cast of characters chucked at me with brute force just a few pages in, the book begins a timeline shift AND an entire point of view shift! When the author begins writing from Aurora’s perspective, it’s done so in the year 1983. When it’s written from the perspective of any other character, it’s done so in the year 2013 (or 30 years later). It was another surge of information overload and just very overwhelming. That’s a good word for it because that’s how I felt from start to finish: overwhelmed. It gave my anxiety a horrible case of anxiety. Someone get me a Lorazepam… STAT!

Like most murder mystery books, there’s an obvious set of clues left for us as readers. Unfortunately, I figured this one out way too soon in the story line. In fact, it was painfully obvious and I don’t think it should have been. I mean, less than 50% through the book, I already know who the killer is….? It just didn’t seem right. There weren’t any twists or turns or deception to even try and throw me off as the reader. I mean, isn’t that the whole point of a murder mystery book? I love a good ‘ol fashioned homicide. I mean, who doesn’t? Am I right? I was sorely disappointed to see this one was just so blatantly obvious. It left me feeling so bummed out. I had to push myself to finish the book even more. OK. So now I know who killed Aurora. Now what? meh.

Lastly, the secrets, twists and turns that the author hyped-up throughout the book were just so flat and lackluster. I mean, the head honcho, Jonah Sheens has this wicked secret and it’s going to be pivotal and monumental to the case and blah blah blah. I finally get to the big secret, right? I mean, here it is. Here’s the big reveal, folks! Hang onto your hats! Remain seated and keep reading! Here’s it comes!! And I finally get to that point, right? I’m so fucking excited! And then it’s two sentences long and it’s about as exciting as watching paint dry. Remember that part in A Christmas Story when Ralphie gets his secret decoder? BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR O-V-A-L-T-I-N-E. Yeah, a crummy commercial. That’s how I felt.

I don’t like the thought of giving this book (or any book) a lowly 1-star review. I remember writing essays in college and I know the amount of work that goes into writing something with any substance. I’ve never written a book in my life so it doesn’t seem right that I get to sit here and judge the debut book from Ms. Lodge. The book received a myriad of varying reviews which made me feel better in knowing – it wasn’t just me. There appears to be just as many readers who didn’t care for it as those that absolutely adored it. I’m certain the author’s future work will appeal to readers just as this one did. Unfortunately, SHE LIES IN WAIT simply wasn’t my cup of tea.

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