by Carolyn Lee Adams


$10.50 $10.99 Save 4% Current price is $10.5, Original price is $10.99. You Save 4%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Wednesday, October 24?   Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.
    Same Day shipping in Manhattan. 
    See Details


Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams

A spine-tingling debut about the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse in reverse as a teen struggles to retain hope—and her sanity—while on the run from a cunning and determined killer.

Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It’s no wonder people call her Ruthless.

When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup trick, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can’t afford to lose.

At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth’s blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.

The other girls were never heard from again, but Ruth won’t go down easy. She escapes into the wilderness, but her hunter is close at her heels. That’s when the real battle begins. That’s when Ruth must decide just how far she’ll go in order to survive.

Back home, they called her Ruthless. They had no idea just how right they were.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781481422635
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: 07/12/2016
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 802,607
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

Carolyn Lee Adams is originally from the Seattle area, which is known for serial killers and those who write about them. She attended USC film school and graduated with a BFA in screenwriting. Ruthless is her debut novel. When she isn’t exploring the dark side of human nature in her writing, you’ll find her on stage as a stand-up comedian. Because those things go together.

Read an Excerpt



I CAN’T SEE. I DON’T know why I can't see.

I do know I was just dreaming. Running in a white dress through a field of wildflowers, no less. It was like a commercial for laundry detergent or tampons or a prescription medication that has death listed as a possible side effect. The dream is embarrassing, but it’s better than the here and now. I try to crawl back into the dream, but it won’t have me. Reality rushes in, faster and faster, chasing the dream away, replacing it with complete and utter darkness.

I need to open my eyes. I don’t know anything else, but I know that. I try to open them.

Nothing happens. Just blackness.

Don’t panic.


Thinking is hard and I know why. Concussion. My fourth one. First two came courtesy of falling off horses. The third was the result of a PE flag-football game gone awry. I forgot about the flags, tackled a guy three times my size. His heel cracked against my forehead, but he didn’t get the touchdown.


Did I fall off Tucker? Somehow that seems wrong, seems impossible. I look for the memory, knowing it has to be around here somewhere. Tucker has an abscess in his right front hoof. He’s on stall rest. Did I fall off another horse? That doesn’t seem right either.

But it seems the most likely. So what next? And why can’t I see?

Check if anything is broken.

I start with my toes. They wiggle. I can feel them. This is good. It seems they’re inside boots, so maybe I did fall off a horse. My legs are oddly stiff, like they’re too heavy to move. I try to bend a knee, but it isn’t happening. My right arm is a no go. There’s pain there. A lot of pain. It’s dulled by the concussion, but that arm is a sleeping bear I don’t want to prod. Luckily, I’m left-handed.

The left arm isn’t hurt, but it also doesn’t want to move. Not as bad as the legs, though, or the injured right arm. I think this left arm can get me somewhere.

Time to summon the will to move it.

Take a deep breath. . . .

Dirt falls into my mouth. Not dirt. Manure and shavings, something spiky. It’s hay. Hay and shavings and manure.

I feel it now, pressing up against my neck and jaw, against my body and legs. It’s dangerously close to my nose, and it’s why I can’t move. It’s pressing down on me, pinning me in place.

Adrenaline hits my bloodstream. I fight my left arm free, dig the muck away from my mouth, and take a swallow of clean air.

Slow your breathing. Slow it down. Do it.

Nothing but air. It’s all I think about for several minutes. I calm down, and the adrenaline ebbs away. I want to fall back to sleep. Sleep is soothing. Quiet. Peaceful. There’s a field of wildflowers on the other side of sleep.


I have to fight the concussion. I need to open my eyes. Maybe the dirt was pressed against my eyes. Maybe that’s why I couldn’t see. Hope gives me new energy. I try again, and get nowhere.

Maybe I don’t have eyes anymore.

True fear now. For the first time. My thinking is clear enough for real, raw, primal fear to sink in. Time to be courageous. Time to check. But I don’t want to know.

Be brave.

I take my left hand and reach for my eyes. There’s something weird there, but I don’t know what it is. It’s almost rough. But there’s definitely blood. Lots and lots of it. Sticky, heavy blood.

I jerk my hand away and strike metal. There’s something metal above my face.

The fear broadens into something deeper. I am in trouble. Dear God, I am in trouble. I don’t know what kind of trouble, but I know it’s bad. Do my parents know? Am I alone?

I try to listen. Dirt muffles my hearing. My ears are halfway encased in the filth, but it seems like there isn’t anything to hear. Except a hum. A deep, resonating hum that overwhelms everything.

Concussion. I know you well, old friend. Now kindly get the hell away from me. You may leave my hearing on your way out.

A wave of nausea crashes over me. I don’t know where I am, but my best guess is somewhere on the ranch. Possibly under the manure pile. Was I in a tractor accident? Tractor chores are not my favorite. I lack skills, to put it mildly. But I won’t let that damn tractor win, so I drag the arena, push the manure pile back, and do all the things the hired hands do.

Did I flip the tractor?

Should I call for help?



No. Don’t call for help.

Why not call for help?

No. Feels risky somehow.

All right, no. Listen to your gut, my mom always says. And I do. It usually steers me right.

Okay, now what? How do I figure out where I am? Time for my left hand to do some exploring. Weird how I’m thinking about my left hand like it is a separate person from me, a friend I can rely on.

I reach out to touch the metal I felt before. It is a solid sheet, not far above my head. I trace a diamond-plate pattern with my fingertips. The farm has two tractors; both are smooth steel all over, except for the dirty roughness of the bucket. My tractor-­accident theory is looking less likely.

A few inches later and the metal makes a right-angle turn away from me—and my hand hits the dirty shavings. Only my head is underneath this thing. Whatever it is, it protected me from being smothered to death.

Time to search my left side. Shavings. Manure. Hay. But then, close beside me, a pole of well-worn wood. I can feel the barely there ridges of grain in the oak. Pitchfork handle. This definitely feels like a pitchfork handle. I must be at the ranch. Where is there diamond-plate metal on the farm? I can’t remember.

My left hand keeps going. The tips of my fingers touch more metal. This is something different, though. It’s rough and flaky with rust. I slide my hand along the old steel. It has a soft curve. Like a bowl. But it’s weird. Like the bowl is sort of shaking. It makes no sense.

I reach out as far as I can, but lose contact with the metal. Searching higher, my fingers touch metal again. A little hook. Odd. Then a straightaway of more metal. Then another metal hook. Another straightaway. Another hook.

I run out of arm. I am small and don’t have much length of arm to work with. So I trace the hooks and the straightaways back to the thing that’s like a bowl.

This all feels familiar. Those metal hooks remind me of my dad tying down a tarp in the bed of his truck.

A truck.

I am in the bed of a truck!

Why am I in the bed of a truck?

I reach out again for the metal hooks. Something tickles my hand.


Stretching as far as I can go, I feel it in earnest now—the wind buffeting the skin of my hand. The wind, hard and fast.

This truck is moving.

How can that be? How can I be in a moving truck?

I reach out again, to check if I’m hallucinating. No. It’s there; that biting, slapping wind is there. This truck is going fast. Then I feel the hum through my body. The hum in my ears isn’t just concussion. It’s a combination of engine and vibration. It’s metal movement.

The diamond-plated thing above me must be a truck-bed toolbox. My head is in the empty space beneath it, protecting me from the shavings, keeping me alive.

I know where I am now.

I’m in the bed of a fast-moving truck, covered in blood, buried in filth. My right arm might be broken. I can’t see.

Realization dawns, and I pull my hand in like I touched fire.

Fear slides into my belly as I wait.

Was I seen? Did someone see my hand?

The truck shift gears. It’s slowing down. Quickly.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Ruthless 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Good book. I reccommend it.
SarahJo4110 More than 1 year ago
10-17 More than 1 year ago
This was my first thriller book and I must say, I was not let down! I could not put the book down after starting it. Very interesting and I would defiantly reccomend this book to anyone.
BuriedUnderBooks More than 1 year ago
When you read a book description saying it's about a young woman being held against her will by a serial---what, killer?---you kind of know what to expect, right? Wrong, oh so very wrong. Ruthless is a book that has all the chills and thrills you could possibly want. Cozy-only readers need to avoid this one but you can't go wrong if you love a really intense psychological thriller. It's one thing to find yourself in a terrible situation like this but Ruth Carver truly is a unique young woman, one who has no intention of going to her death quietly or of allowing her captor to be in complete control. She's the woman I would hope to be in such circumstances while I know quite well I wouldn't be. She's not Superwoman, though, and has those moments when she just doesn't think she can go on; it's what she does with those moments that makes her so remarkable. The brute that nabbed Ruth is vividly drawn and as menacing and evil as can be but I have to say the character that had the most effect on me, other than Ruth, is the ambience, the atmosphere, if you will, that creates the overall feeling of the darkness that is at the core of this man and of Ruth's surroundings. Ms. Adams knows how to bring the reader into the scene with her words and, much like the intense cold in another wonderful book (Jenny Milchman's Cover of Snow), this is what kept me riveted to Ruth's battle with the evil that wants to consume her. Looking for a nice peaceful read to while away a few hours? Not this one, not by any means, but if you want a story that might keep you up at night racing through the pages, you'll want to read Ruthless.
chapterxchapter More than 1 year ago
Let me start off by staying this…this book gave me serious heart palpitations. I had to speed through it because I just couldn’t stand waiting to see what the end outcome would be. As someone who is totally and completely obsessed with Criminal Minds, Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams was just like one of their episodes. I kid you not! The opening scene where Ruth Carver has already been kidnapped (I’m not spoiling anything. It’s a fact. Read the first page.), where she is trying to figure where she is, how she got there, and what happened to her. The point where she realizes what has actually happened, and comes face to face with the sick twisted a-hole who thinks that he needs to punish Ruth. Unfortunately for Ruth, she figures out that he has done this many times already. But this sicko has taken Ruth way into the mountains, deep into the forest where it’s pretty near close to impossible to drive into the cabin area. Good for him, bad for Ruth. But Ruth is a fighter, and she uses every ounce of fight in her to get away from this perv. And this is when the drama and the never-ending heart attack started. It’s like one of those thriller/slasher movies where the main character does one thing, and you’re yelling at the screen at them saying “What are you doing?”, “Get the hell outta there!”, “OMG I CAN’T EVEN WATCH THIS ANYMORE I’M SO SCARED FOR THE CHARCTER!!”. Dude, that’s what this book was just like. I read it at night (mistake). I freaked myself out. I was so scared for Ruth. She gets away, but she doesn’t, but she does, but she doesn’t. Round and round and round. OMG! And those neighbours!! I threw my reader down and refused to read for a bit. I was so angry! And isn’t all of this what makes a fantastic, unforgettable read? Getting the readers emotions to reach out to the characters in the book? I personally think that author, Carolyn Lee Adams, wrote this book to perfection. Things are always scarier (to me anyways) when you read it, rather than watching the show/movie. My mind conjured the most heinous villain. My body felt the characters desperation (Ruth’s and the stupid psycho). My eyes didn’t want to tear away from the story, and my voice did cry out for Ruth. What did I not like about this book? In all honesty, even though Ruth is such a strong-willed female character, there were times that I was so annoyed with her. I reflected after reading the book (because how could you not!) and did the whole “what would I do if I were in this sitch”, and that’s when a few of Ruth’s actions came up and annoyed me. I’m not sharing anything though! You seriously need to read this one for yourself, and experience it. Fans of thrillers, or are on the lookout for strong female characters, definitely need to read Ruthless by Carolyn Lee Adams. It is one of those reads that will remain with the reader long after reading the last page.
Sandy5 More than 1 year ago
Talk about intensity! This was another one of those novels where I was screaming at the main character as I felt she was not seeing the whole picture. What I didn’t enjoy was where the flashbacks were inserted into the novel. The flashbacks were valuable as they conveyed important information about the story and the characters but I felt that their placement into the story ruined the intensity of the book. The novel begins with Ruth being lead away in the back of a pickup truck. Tied and bloody, she is alone. Her senses are on high alert. Taking in the sounds, the smells, and trying to feel her way around, Ruth realizes that she is hurt but she cannot get a grip on her situation. Coming to a stop, the man who now stands before her is her father’s former employee. Ruth had him fired and now, this bitter man has some words of his own he shares with her. Unable to recall his name, Ruth calls him the Wolfman and she realizes she is not his first victim. Alone in the woods, quiet and isolated, my senses are on high alert as the story intensifies. Ruth is determined to survive this ordeal and her wit and determination shows. As the tables turn, I’m about crawling out of my skin as I’m trying to be another set of eyes for Ruth as she’s dealing with securing the Wolfman and tending to her own injuries. I was getting nervous as she was taking too long, way too long as she went about her business and I started feeling panicky for what could transpire even though she thought she knew what she was doing. And then ahh, I knew it wasn’t’ going to be good but it sure made for a terrific ending.