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The Body in the Woods (Point Last Seen Series #1)

The Body in the Woods (Point Last Seen Series #1)

4.0 10
by April Henry

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Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom's mental illness, Nick's bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn't understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to


Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom's mental illness, Nick's bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn't understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff's Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear and courage, the three team up to find the girl's killer—before he can strike one of their own.

This first book in April Henry's Point Last Seen YA mystery series, The Body in the Woods is full of riveting suspense, putting readers right in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Three Oregon high school students help the local police by volunteering with Portland Search and Rescue in this fast-paced kickoff to Henry’s Point Last Seen series. Alexis is sweet and suffering (her mentally ill mother requires lots of care). Ruby is smart, socially awkward, and obsessed with true crime. Nick has a hero complex; he wants to impress girls with his police work. While searching for an autistic man in the woods, they find the body of girl their age. Ruby is sure it’s the work of a serial killer, and she enlists Alexis and Nick to help find the culprit. Henry (The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die) is well within her wheelhouse with this tense mystery, which can read a bit like a throwback to “teen detective” novels from decades past. The author’s expertise at plotting a murder mystery and knowledge of police procedure are evident as the novel moves through all the expected moments of a TV crime drama, building to a violent confrontation. Ages 12–up. Agent: Wendy Schmalz, Wendy Schmalz Agency. (June)
From the Publisher

“Henry has created not only a gripping mystery, but rich and detailed characters as well . . . The action starts right away, and does not stop until everything comes to a head at the end of the novel.” —VOYA

“The fast-paced plot, mirroring familiar TV crime procedurals, make this a good choice for reluctant readers, especially as it's impossible to follow the clues and identify the killer before the final showdown.” —Booklist

“Henry realistically portrays these kids thrust into a real-life horror. Their doubts and fears, as well as their strengths, all ring true and teens will be able to identify with one of the protagonists . . . Give this series opener to fans of character-driven mysteries.” —School Library Journal

“Quick pacing, an easy-to-follow mystery, and a smidge of real danger make this a likely choice for TV crime drama fans.” —BCCB

“A fast moving and well-constructed mystery . . . astute readers will be able to solve the puzzle before the final, high-stakes climax.” —Kirkus Reviews

ILA Young Adults' Choices List Selection
Oregon Book Award Master List Selection
Oregon Spirit Book Award Master List Selection
Iowa Teen Book Award Finalist
Missouri Truman Award Finalist

VOYA, August 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 3) - Loryn Aman
Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have all joined the Portland County Search and Rescue for different reasons. For Alexis, it is a breath of fresh air compared to her crazy home life; Nick is hoping to fill his deceased father’s military shoes; and quirky Ruby is obsessed with solving crimes. One morning, after leaving class to go on a search for a missing man with autism, the teens find much more than they bargained for: the dead body of a teen girl. From this point forward, the three teens are fixated on the homicide. When they are kept at arm’s length from the investigation by the police, however, they decide to do some detective work on their own. The only thing the trio does not anticipate is that the killer may have his sights on one of them. Henry has created not only a gripping mystery, but rich and detailed characters as well. The story is told from multiple points of view, including the three teens’ and the killer’s. The action starts right away, and does not stop until everything comes to a head at the end of the novel. Henry does a great job of setting the scene, taking the reader on a journey to solve the mystery, and still successfully introducing intricate plot lines and situations. This is a solid mystery that will appeal to reluctant readers. Reviewer: Loryn Aman; Ages 15 to 18.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—On their first mission for the Portland County Search and Rescue team, Alexis, Nick, and Ruby don't find the missing man with autism they were looking for; instead they find the dead body of a young girl. Now these three teens from very different backgrounds must work together to find the killer. Complicating the issue is Alexis's mentally ill mother, who disappears after a paranoid episode, Nick's crushing feelings of inadequacy, and Ruby's struggles to find a place she belongs. Will they be able to find common ground with one another before the killer strikes again, maybe even at one of their own? Henry realistically portrays these three kids thrust into a real-life horror. Their doubts and fears, as well as their strengths, all ring true and teens will be able to identify with one of the protagonists. The adult characters, especially Alexis's mother, are also fully developed, albeit a bit slow on the uptake in the case of Ruby's parents. The actual mystery is not that intriguing, but a pervading sense of threat and danger is present throughout. Give this series opener to fans of character-driven mysteries.—Erik Knapp, Davis Library, Plano, TX
Kirkus Reviews
In a fast-moving and well-constructed mystery, three teen volunteer members of a search-and-rescue team track a serial killer targeting homeless teen girls in Portland, Oregon.An experienced SAR member is supposed to accompany every search party, but an error lands new volunteers Ruby, Nick and Alexis alone together on their first call. Other team members quickly locate the man who is the target of their search, but the three teens find something else: the body of a recently dead girl. Each teen comes from a unique and compellingly drawn background, expressed with impressive effectiveness given how quickly the plot moves. Nick, whose father died in the Iraq War, has joined SAR in hopes of both living up to his father's legacy and impressing girls. Timid but capable Alexis pushes others away to stop them from discovering that she spends most of her time and energy managing her mother's mental illness. Ruby in particular stands out. Her socially unacceptable but genuinely felt exuberance at participating in a murder investigation is frowned upon by parents and police but lovingly conveyed through enthusiastic dialogue and narrative asides. Short, obsessive chapters from the unidentified killer's point of view add to the suspense, and enough clues are dropped as to the killer's identity that astute readers will be able to solve the puzzle before the final, high-stakes climax.A quick, thrilling read that doesn't skimp on characterization. (Mystery. 12-18)
Children's Literature - Jennifer Greene
When a group of teenagers are sent into Forest Park to look for a lost man, they end up finding a dead body instead. What’s more, as one of the teens deduces, it may be the work of a serial killer! Part of the “A Point Last Seen Mystery” series, this book is based on a real-life search and rescue (SAR) team led by teens. The book is told from several points of view, including SAR teens Alexis, Nick, and Ruby, and even the serial killer himself. All three of the main character teens have their own reasons for joining SAR, and all have their own unique problems. Alexis must hide the existence of her crazy mother. Nick, with extreme ADHD, wants to live up to the bravery of the dead soldier dad that he cannot even remember. Ruby, despite her normal home life, thinks oddly and has trouble fitting in. Altogether, the three are too much: unbelievable, un-relatable, underdeveloped, and only caricatures of troubled teens. Even the sections from the serial killer’s point of view seem wildly clichéd. There are some very interesting facts and details, as when the SAR team searches for clues in a line on their hands and knees or when a homeless girl targeted by a serial killer says she always sleeps under a security camera to protect herself. Likewise, the mystery’s technical knowledge is interesting and introduced by Ruby being a true crime buff, a conceit that works surprisingly well. However, while the writing style is good and the SAR premise is intriguing, the book is bogged down by its over-the-top characters. The first in a new series by Oregonian April Henry, this book offers a readable, yet underwhelming mystery for young adult readers. Reviewer: Jennifer Greene; Ages 14 up.

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
Point Last Seen Series , #1
Edition description:
First Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.10(w) x 5.20(h) x 1.10(d)
HL720L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt




For Alexis Frost, Nick Walker, and Ruby McClure, it all started with a phone call and two texts. It ended with fear and courage, love and loathing, screaming and blood. Lots of blood.

*   *   *

When the classroom phone rang in American history, Alexis Frost straightened up and blinked, trying to will herself awake as the teacher answered it. She managed to yawn without opening her mouth, the cords stretching tight in her neck. Last night had been another hard one.

“Alexis?” Mrs. Fairchild turned toward her.

“Yes?” Her heart sped up. What was it this time? The possibilities were endless. None of them good.

“Could you come up here, please?”

Mrs. Fairchild was looking at Alexis as if she was seeing her in a new light. Had it finally happened, then, the thing she both feared and longed for? Had something happened to her mother?

*   *   *

Nick Walker’s thumbs were poised over the virtual keyboard of the phone he held on his lap. He was pretending to listen to Mr. Dill, his English teacher, while he was really texting Sasha Madigan, trying this angle and that to persuade her to study with him tonight. Which he hoped would mean lots of copying (on his part) and lots of kissing (on both their parts).

The phone vibrated in his hand. Mr. Dill was busy writing on the board, so Nick lifted it a little closer to his face. It wasn’t a reply from Sasha but a message from his Portland Search and Rescue team leader.

Search in Forest Park. Missing man. Meet time 1500.

His first SAR call-out! He jumped to his feet.

“Nick?” Mr. Dill turned and looked at him over the top of his glasses. “What is it?” Mr. Dill had a lot of rules. He had already complained about Nick’s habit of drawing—only Mr. Dill called it doodling—in class.

Nick held up his phone while pointing at it with his other hand as if he had been hired to demonstrate it. “I’m with Portland Search and Rescue, and we’ve been mobilized to find a man missing in Forest Park. I have to leave now.”

“Um, okay,” Mr. Dill said uncertainly. Someone in Wilson High’s administration had had to sign off on Nick being allowed to join searches during the school day, but maybe the information hadn’t filtered down to his teachers.

No matter. Nick was already out the door.

He just hoped someone from class would tell Sasha. A text wouldn’t do it justice.

Nick Walker, called out on a lifesaving mission.

*   *   *

Ruby McClure felt her phone buzz in her jeans pocket. She waited until the end of chemistry to check it.

Fifteen hundred made so much more sense than three P.M. Ruby preferred military time. No questions about whether “nine” meant morning or night. No having to rely on context. No one getting hung up on whether 1200 had an A.M. or a P.M. after it, which was a ridiculous idea because A.M. meant “ante meridiem” and P.M. meant “post meridiem” and meridiem was Latin for “midday,” and twelve noon was midday itself.

It was 1357 now. Which meant she had an hour to get home, change into hiking clothes, pick up her SAR backpack, and meet the rest of the team at the Portland sheriff’s office.

Piece of cake.

Ruby pulled out the keys to her car as she walked to the office to sign herself out. On the way, her phone buzzed again. It was Nick, asking for a ride.

Copyright © 2014 by April Henry

Meet the Author

April Henry is the New York Times–bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels Girl, Stolen; The Night She Disappeared; and The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die; and the thriller Face of Betrayal, coauthored with Lis Wiehl. April lives in Oregon.

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The Body in the Woods 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Amabe421 More than 1 year ago
*Actual rating 3.5 stars I am a fan of mystery/thrillers and I have enjoyed the ones I have read from this author, so I was excited for this one. Besides, this cover is super pretty!! I love all the green! I could not pull off wearing that color green eyeshadow. I also really like multi POV books too. This was an enjoyable book and it kept me guessing for a while. Well, I did think that I knew for sure who it was for a while, but I was wrong. When we do discover who it is, it made sense though. That's what I loved about this. The signs were there, but they were so subtle and you are convinced that it is one person, so you don't really notice until right before it's revealed. Alexis is a character that I really felt for. She is a smart girl stuck in a pretty crappy life. Her mother suffers from mental illness, but doesn't like the medications she is supposed to take to keep it controlled. She pretty much is the child and Alexis is taking care of everything. She is embarrassed and also scared that she would get taken from her mother, so she hides it. She doesn't let anyone get close to her out of fear that they will discover this hidden part of her life. She throws everything she has into finding out who the killer is, especially after her mother runs out and goes missing and she worries that she might become a target being out on the streets. Nick is a boy who has something to prove. Well, to himself anyways. He wants to be a hero, be brave and strong. He wants to be like his father. He feels like he needs to do something extraordinary. He loves the thrill of being on the Search and Rescue Squad because he feels like if he is the one to find someone, then he will get the recognition and attention that he wants. He is a really nice guy, but he really cares too much about what others think of him. He goes out of his way to let people know that he's helping find the killer, and he doesn't like it when it's not him to find something or do something "important". Ruby seems like your average well off girl, but really, she has her own issues. She wants different things for her life than what her parents want for her, but they just brush her off. They don't understand her obsession with birds or crime scene shows. They think that by letting her be on the Search and Rescue, they are giving her an outlet for her silly ideas. What they don't realize is, she is really smart, and she could make a life for herself out of the love that she has for it. She feels misunderstood and alone. She doesn't really have friends because she is odd. I really did like her. She was a bit annoying at times, but it was a kind of charming personality. I understood why she acted the way she did. In a way, she is like Nick, just looking for acceptance. Only she wants to be excepted for her, not for doing something better or bigger. The mystery aspect of this was great. Like any good mystery, there are plenty of clues, but they aren't always clear. That's because you get so wrapped up in the story that you are focusing on what the characters are focusing on, so you miss the subtle things that point in the right direction. April Henry does a fantastic job at mystery. I really enjoyed this book as a whole. I liked getting to know the characters, and I loved trying to figure out who the killer was. It all seemed a bit too tidy in the end, but not in a bad way. I suppose after so much suspense and drama, a happy and easy ending is the way to go. Another fantastic novel from this author!!! *An advanced copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive any compensation.
Autumn2 More than 1 year ago
I received this book via NetGalley to give an honest review. I enjoyed this slight mystery thriller that I would recommend it to the young teens. You join in the team of SAR with the three teenagers Nick, Ruby and Alexis. Each come from a different background. With each chapter you read from the teens point of view and the killer which was done great enough that it doesn't miss a beat. When Nick, Ruby and Alexis are on a rescue mission to find an autistic man they come across something else that they didn't expect. But what they come across could come back and hunt them.  I enjoyed how the author really gave us information on how SAR's works. I honestly never knew that people could volunteer and had to have so many hours. It was pretty cool information. I really enjoyed how Ruby was so involved that she kept wanting to help the officers in their investigation and even involved Nick and Alexis on her quest to help solve the murder. And it really makes you keep an eye on your surroundings because not everyone is who they seem with suspects.  I am hoping to read more of this authors work, because she has a great writing style and maybe we will see more Point Last Seen novels?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
book_lover123 More than 1 year ago
Excellent book. This book was great and it kept me flipping page after page. When you, or even if you don't, figure out who did it, you basically screaming at the characters to figure out who did it. Trust me, I've gotten weird looks from people. They probably thought I was insane. Anyway, this was an amazing book with amazing characters, and an amazing plot, and a really amazing ending.
Kristen_Noel More than 1 year ago
  Holy crap, you guys! I can't recall reading too many murder mystery books. But I did watch Court TV (you know, TruTV) back in the day with my grandma religiously. I've never thought about reading murder mystery books, but The Body in the Woods has totally changed that. April Henry grabbed me from the very first chapter and dragged me down a crazy path of just one more page chapter because I have to know what happens next!   The suspense that April Henry builds on the pages of The Body in the Woods. I did most of my reading for this book in bed, and there were several times that I sat up and frantically devoured the section. From the very beginning, you're given several people that could be the suspect. The way she writes the story from different points of view, including the unnamed killer, was perfect. I don't think it's too easy to guess the killer. There is plenty of suspense to keep you guessing and interested.   The cast of characters works so well for The Body in the Woods. At first, Ruby's obsession over homicides grated on my nerves. But as the story unfolded, she actually became my favorite character. I've never read anything by this author before, but April Henry is definitely talented at spinning a tale that keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Fans of YA looking for a change of pace from the overwhelming amount of contemporaries and dystopians need to look no farther than The Body n the Woods. **I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to April Henry and NetGalley.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book ever!!!! I am reading it right know and I am trapped in it. Can't wait til the next book comes out. I am in love.
vikingprincess1976 More than 1 year ago
This is a nice murder mystery for teens. It has everything that a teen could want, including romance. I recommend it!
ABookVacation More than 1 year ago
This was an intriguing story that follows the lives of three teen members of a search and rescue crew—three teens who have nothing else in common and, truth be told, want nothing to do with one another. Through their third-person stories, readers learn of their own lives and personal idiosyncrasies, and as the novel takes shape, they begin to depend on one another, forming a friendship of sorts that will bring a smile to readers’ faces. This was an intriguing mystery novel that I found highly engaging, especially with the quirky main characters. This is somewhat of a classic whodunit, with teens as sleuths, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised how difficult it was for me to pinpoint the murdered. I did eventually figure it out prior to the big reveal, but Henry had me going to quite a while, and I just loved the continual tension between the characters and their inner demons. If you like mystery novels, definitely give this book a read.
Lost-N-Love-N-Hopeless More than 1 year ago
Not a mystery, a suspense (only getting to the end), or a thrill (only to be done). Did not meet EXPectations. . .  Alexis, Nick, and Ruby or not your typical teens. They voluteer to help out in a missing person search, which turns in to a discovery of a body in the woods. Blah, blah, blah. . . .if you have any experience with mysteries you will figure out he killer fairly quickly. I would have likes to seen a real surprise, but didn't happen. Henry could have/should have present more of a challenge for the reader. I do not expect to read any further in this series. I was not challenged for it to have been the first book in the series Thanks, NetGalley.
MissFictional More than 1 year ago
Thank you Henry Holt for sending me an Advanced Readers Copy of this book, which did not affect my review in any way. I don't know why this is labeled a "thriller" when it definitely was not a thrill to read. The above statement is the reason I was unable to complete this long-winded novel. One could argue that this isn't really my genre - well, not my favorite genre - so it's to be expected that it wouldn't hold my attention for very long. But sub-genres aside, The Body in the Woods fails in aspects that any good novel should not fail in - like writing, characters, etc. Reason #1 for DNFing: THE WRITING. I am a firm believer that in order for a novel to hold a reader's attention, the writing has to have that "spark." In other words, the prose shouldn't be as robotic and watered-down as it is in this book. And the third-person POV didn't help matters in the least, because it kept me disconnected from the characters and, frankly, bored me. I should have counted the amount of times I yawned while reading. Reason #2: THE CHARACTERS. You know those cardboard-insert-pop-star-pretty-boy-cutouts at least one of your friends has in their room? Yeah, that's how I imagine the characters in this book. Not that they're pretty-boy status or anything, but they are as two-dimensional as a piece of cardboard. True, if I continued reading, they probably would have been more developed, but rattling off each character's qualities does not give the character depth. Reason #3: THE NEEDLESS DETAILS. I really don't want a massive paragraph detailing/listing Alexis's food, because I really don't give an eff. #4: THE MYSTERY WAS ANYTHING BUT. Yeah, when a dead body is made up with green eye-shadow, the mystery is sort of hard to take seriously. Just sayin'. Not that this book was excruciatingly long, but I simply could not read more than ten pages at a time. I had to force myself to continue reading, and once I hit about page 70, I'd had enough. Skip this one. I've heard Henry's other novels are much better, so I might consider giving those a try.