Review: She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge

Title: She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge
DCI Jonah Sheens Series Book One
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Six friends. One killer. Who do you trust? A teen girl is missing after a night of partying; thirty years later, the discovery of her body reopens a cold case in an absorbing novel featuring a small-town cop determined to finally get to the truth—for fans of Tana French and Kate Atkinson.

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.

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.


The first release in the DCI Jonah Sheens series, She Lies in Wait by Gytha Lodge is a fascinating mystery about a thirty year old cold case.

In 1983, fourteen year old Aurora Jackson, her older sister, Topaz,  friends Daniel, Connor, Brett, Coralie and JoJo go on a camping trip together.  The older teenagers spend the evening drinking, dancing, getting high and hooking up.  Jealousy spills over into heated outbursts but hurt feelings are quickly smoothed over.  Aurora feels like an outsider but after one of her sister’s friends encourages her to let loose a little, she also begins drinking. They eventually fall asleep but they are startled awake early the next morning by the shocking discovery that Aurora is missing. When no trace of her is found, everyone is left to wonder what happened to Aurora.

Thirty years later, the discovery of a set of bones in the vicinity of the long ago camping trip answers the question to Aurora’s fate. Detective Chief Inspector Jonah Sheens hopes he and his team can uncover the truth about the circumstances that led to her death. Working this case is not easy for him since he was a young constable when she went missing and he personally knew her and the other people involved in the case. Despite his unease, Sheens hopes re-interviewing the six friends will shine new light on the night Aurora vanished.

Jonah is surprised to discover they are still tight-knit friends but there are definitely a few cracks in the circle. Some of the interviews differ from the original accounts but he must carefully consider possible motivations for the altered recollections. He also suspects one the friends might have an ulterior motive for divulging new information.  As he hands out assignments to the detectives working with him,  Jonah fears one of them will uncover the secret he has been keeping for thirty years.

With the chapters alternating between the unfolding investigation in the present and flashbacks to the night of Aurora’s disappearance, She Lies in Wait is an engrossing police procedural. The pacing is a little slow but this fits the meticulous investigation. Jonah and his team are well-rounded characters with interesting backstories.  With a few well paced red herrings and clever misdirects, Gytha Lodge keeps the murderer’s identity and motive for the crime under wraps until the novel’s action-packed conclusion. This first installment in the DCI Jonah Sheens series is a well-written mystery that I highly recommend to fans of the genre.

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