Category Archives: Heather Gudenkauf

Review: The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf

Title: The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Contemporary, Suspense, Thriller
Length: 337 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A woman receives an unexpected visitor during a deadly snowstorm in this chilling thriller from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf.

True crime writer Wylie Lark doesn’t mind being snowed in at the isolated farmhouse where she’s retreated to write her new book. A cozy fire, complete silence. It would be perfect, if not for the fact that decades earlier, at this very house, two people were murdered in cold blood and a girl disappeared without a trace.

As the storm worsens, Wylie finds herself trapped inside the house, haunted by the secrets contained within its walls—haunted by secrets of her own. Then she discovers a small child in the snow just outside. After bringing the child inside for warmth and safety, she begins to search for answers. But soon it becomes clear that the farmhouse isn’t as isolated as she thought, and someone is willing to do anything to find them.


The Overnight Guest by Heather Gudenkauf is a mesmerizing mystery.

True crime writer Wylie Lark is working on her latest book at an isolated farmhouse in Burden, Iowa. She is prepared for an oncoming blizzard but she is surprised when she finds a young child in the front yard. Wylie finally gets the child to trust her but she cannot any information from him. Certain he is not alone, Wylie braves the white-out conditions and frigid temperature to find the boy’s parents. She finds the wrecked vehicle but where is the driver?

Wylie regrets how she left things with her son so she knows she needs to return to Oregon soon. She is enjoying this time by herself and she does not expect anything out of the ordinary to occur during her stay. That is until her unexpected visitor. She is frustrated by her brusqueness with the little boy, but she is very worried about him and his missing parent(s). When the electricity goes out, she begins to experience the first vestiges of fear. Wylie is committed to keeping the child safe until morning, but will she be able to keep her commitment?

In the summer of 2000, a shocking murder rocks the small farming community in Burden. Sheriff John Butler, Department of Criminal Investigations Agents Camila Santos and John Randolph work tireless in the oppressive heat and humidity to find the killer. Who would have reason to kill the well-liked family? They zero in on a suspect, but will find the evidence they need to make an arrest?

The Overnight Guest is a well-executed thriller with an atmospheric setting. The storyline is fast-paced with chapters that alternate between three different events. In the past, the murders are unsettling and the investigation is intriguing. In the present, the blizzard is claustrophobic and the tension is disquieting. The third perspective offers a haunting glimpse into an abusive and volatile relationship. With explosive plot-twists, Heather Gudenkauf brings this riveting mystery to an action-packed dénouement.

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Filed under Contemporary, Heather Gudenkauf, Park Row Books, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, The Overnight Guest, Thriller

Review: This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf

Title: This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


Everyone has a secret they’ll do anything to hide…

Twenty-five years ago, the body of sixteen-year-old Eve Knox was found in the caves near her home in small-town Grotto, Iowa—discovered by her best friend, Maggie, and her sister, Nola. There were a handful of suspects, including her boyfriend, Nick, but without sufficient evidence the case ultimately went cold.

For decades Maggie was haunted by Eve’s death and that horrible night. Now a detective in Grotto, and seven months pregnant, she is thrust back into the past when a new piece of evidence surfaces and the case is reopened. As Maggie investigates and reexamines the clues, secrets about what really happened begin to emerge. But someone in town knows more than they’re letting on, and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried deep.


This Is How I Lied by Heather Gudenkauf is a gripping, tension-filled mystery.

At nearly eight months pregnant, Detective Maggie Kennedy-O’Keefe thinks her boss, Chief Les Digby, wants to discuss putting her on light duty when he calls her to his office. Needless to say, she is shocked to learn that new evidence has been found in the still unsolved, twenty-five old murder of her best friend Eve Knox. Maggie jumps at the opportunity to investigate the cold case and submit both old and new evidence for testing. Will Maggie solve her best friend’s murder?

Eve’s murder was originally investigated in part by Maggie’s father Henry who was the police chief at the time. He is recently retired and suffering from dementia. Her brother, Colin, lives with their father who is occasionally prone to wandering off. Henry clearly remembers long ago events but his present day memories fade away within minutes. Although the case soon went cold, Maggie believes her father might have information that could help her with her investigation. But he becomes so upset when discussing the cold case, she is quick to change the subject. Does Henry know anything that is not in the official file?

Eve was more than just Maggie’s best friend; she was also their neighbor.  And Eve’s mother and sister, Nola, still live in the same house. Although she would rather avoid Nola, who has quite the reputation due to her very odd behavior, Maggie knows she has to inform the family the case is under new scrutiny. Just as Maggie feared, Nola is still rather creepy and she is relieved when their conversation is over. Shaken by her encounters with Nola, Maggie tries to stay clear of her, but Nola has every intention of bringing her sister’s killer to justice.

At home, Maggie’s husband Shaun is not at all happy about his wife’s involvement in the case. With the upcoming birth of their long-awaited baby, he wants her to do nothing to jeopardize her pregnancy. Maggie is shocked when she discovers unexpected information about him in Eve’s case file. But does this new-to-her detail have anything to do with Eve’s murder?

Shifting back in forth in time, This Is How I Lied is a fast-paced and atmospheric mystery. The characters are well-drawn with strange quirks, relatable flaws and appealing traits. The investigation uncovers interesting information but the real shocker occurs about at about the half-way mark.  With red herrings, clever misdirects and stunning plot twists, Heather Gudenkauf brings this engrossing mystery to an eye-popping, unanticipated denouement.  I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this outstanding mystery to fans of the genre.

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Filed under Contemporary, Heather Gudenkauf, Mystery, Park Row Books, Rated B+, Review, Suspense, This Is How I Lied

Review: Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf

Title: Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 368 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A gripping thriller about three young girlfriends, a dark obsession and a chilling crime that shakes up a quiet Iowa town, from the New York Times bestselling author of The Weight of Silence.

For twelve-year-old Cora Landry and her friends Violet and Jordyn, it was supposed to be an ordinary sleepover—movies and Ouija and talking about boys. But when they decide to sneak out to go to the abandoned rail yard on the outskirts of town, little do they know that their innocent games will have dangerous consequences.

Later that night, Cora Landry is discovered on the tracks, bloody and clinging to life, her friends nowhere to be found. Soon their small rural town is thrust into a maelstrom. Who would want to hurt a young girl like Cora—and why? In an investigation that leaves no stone unturned, everyone is a suspect and no one can be trusted—not even those closest to Cora.

Before She Was Found is a timely and gripping thriller about friendship and betrayal, about the power of social pressure and the price of needing to fit in. It is about the great lengths a parent will go to protect their child and keep them safe—even if that means burying the truth, no matter the cost.


Before She Was Found by Heather Gudenkauf is a heartrending mystery about a twelve year old girl who has been brutally attacked.  

Cora Landry has always been a bit of an outcast at her elementary school but she is hoping that will change now she is in middle school. So she is relieved when she befriends new to town Violet Crow. Unfortunately, Violet is also friends with mean girl and bully Jordyn Petit, and Cora is disappointed when the three girls are assigned to work on a school project together. They are soon engrossed in their research about an urban legend that started in 1944. Teenager Joseph Wither is suspected of murdering and kidnapping teenage girls from their small hometown in Pitch, Iowa. But after their project is complete, the girls have a falling out that lasts quite a few months. Cora gradually wins back Violet’s friendship but she is suspicious about Jordyn’s unexpected overtures. She is anxious about Jordyn’s motives for suggesting the sleepover that Cora is coerced into hosting. Why would Cora, Violet and Jordyn go the the abandoned train station in the middle of the night? Do the girls know who attacked Cora? And more importantly, why?

Cora, Jordyn and Violet are from very different backgrounds. Cora lives with her parents and older sister Kendall.  Cora’s parents are overprotective but this has not stopped their daughter from being targeted by bullies.  Violet’s mother Beth is divorced and they, along with her older brother Max, recently moved to Pitch. Beth works long hours to support the family and she is relieved her daughter spends her afternoons at Cora’s house.  Jordyn’s grandparents have raised her from the time she was a toddler. Her grandmother is currently in a rehab hospital where she is recovering from a broken hip so her grandfather Thomas is taking care of her on his own. Jordyn has been in her fair share of trouble in the past, but Thomas is certain she is telling the truth about what happened at the train station.

Psychiatrist Madeline Gideon is called in to help Cora deal with the aftermath of her injuries. She is a little troubled by some of the family’s dynamics but she continues to encourage Cora to confide in her. Madeline is also asked to talk to Violet who is clearly terrified about what happened the night Cora was attacked. By talking with both girls, will Madeline find out the truth about what happened that fateful night?

Weaving back and forth in time, Before She Was Found is an absolutely spellbinding mystery. The story unfolds through different points of view, police interviews, diary entries, text messages, and on-line correspondence.  None of the girls are completely forthcoming about the events that led up to Cora’s injuries.  But is their reluctance to talk because they were somehow involved? Or is their silence due to fear? Heather Gudenkauf answers these intriguing questions with an absolutely twist-filled and jaw-dropping denouement that is impossible to predict. I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend this cleverly written and suspenseful mystery.

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Filed under Before She Was Found, Contemporary, Heather Gudenkauf, Mystery, Park Row Books, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf

Title: Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: Park Row Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 352 pages
Book Rating: B+

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A shocking discovery and chilling secrets converge in this latest novel from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf

When a tragic accident leaves nurse Amelia Winn deaf, she spirals into a depression that ultimately causes her to lose everything that matters—her job, her husband, David, and her stepdaughter, Nora. Now, two years later and with the help of her hearing dog, Stitch, she is finally getting back on her feet. But when she discovers the body of a fellow nurse in the dense bush by the river, deep in the woods near her cabin, she is plunged into a disturbing mystery that could shatter the carefully reconstructed pieces of her life all over again.

As clues begin to surface, Amelia finds herself swept into an investigation that hits all too close to home. But how much is she willing to risk in order to uncover the truth and bring a killer to justice?

New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf has been described as “masterful” and “intelligent” and compared to Lisa Scottoline and Jodi Picoult. Introducing her most compelling heroine yet, she delivers a taut and emotional thriller that proves she’s at the top of her class.


Not a Sound by Heather Gudenkauf  is a spellbinding mystery that is fast-paced and suspense-laden.

Two years after the hit and run accident that left her deaf, Amelia Winn is finally beginning to get her life back on track. Now a recovering alcoholic, she is separated from her husband Dr. David Winn and living in her family’s isolated cabin near the river where she spends time kayaking or paddleboarding with her service dog, Stitch. On the day she is planning to go to her first job interview since losing her hearing, Amelia is stunned to discover the lifeless body of her former friend and fellow nurse, Gwen Locke, floating in the river. Amelia’s suspicion that Gwen’s death was no accident is quickly confirmed by her lifelong friend Detective Jake Schroeder. After she begins her new job working in a cancer treatment clinic for David’s colleague, Dr. Joseph Huntley, she quickly settles into her new routine.  However, Amelia is quite troubled about Gwen’s murder and despite Jake’s pleas to stay out the investigation, she soon uncovers very disturbing information that might explain the murderer’s motive for silencing her friend. Unsettled by her mounting suspicions, Amelia takes a huge risk that puts her in the crosshairs of a ruthless killer.

Before the accident, Amelia had everything: a satisfying and fulfilling job, a happy marriage and a fantastic relationship with her stepdaughter Nora.  After the accident, she pushes away all of her friends as she turns to alcohol to help cope with all of the changes in her life. After David forces her to leave their home, Jake is instrumental in getting her help for her drinking and convincing her to utilize the resources available for her deafness. Amelia is dedicated to her sobriety and she is working very hard to prove herself to David so she can maintain her relationship with Nora.

After discovering Gwen’s body, Amelia is wracked with guilt for pushing her friend away and not responding to her efforts to resume their friendship. Although she knows she is taking a huge risk, she cannot stop searching for answers that will explain why someone would want to kill Gwen. When strange things begin occurring, Amelia thinks she knows who is responsible, but she cannot think of a reason why this person would do this to her. Pushing her suspicions to the back of her mind, Amelia continues digging into Gwen’s life and she soon uncovers shocking information that provides her with the motive for the murder. Discovering why Gwen was murdered also leads Amelia to a stunning conclusion about who killed her but will she find irrefutable proof before it is too late?  

Not a Sound is an exceedingly well written whodunit that is full of unexpected twists and turns.  Amelia is a wonderful protagonist and it is very easy to root for her as she works hard to maintain her sobriety while trying to pick up the pieces of her life. She is truly regretful for letting her friendship with Gwen lapse and the resulting guilt and remorse provide the impetus for her investigation. The killer’s identity and motive for the murder are brilliantly concealed through a series of clever misdirects and red herrings. Heather Gudenkauf brings the novel to an adrenaline fueled and action packed conclusion.

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Filed under Contemporary, Heather Gudenkauf, Mystery, Not a Sound, Park Row Books, Rated B+, Review, Suspense

Review: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf

Title: Missing Pieces by Heather Gudenkauf
Publisher: MIRA
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 288 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


A woman uncovers earth-shattering secrets about her husband’s family in this chilling page-turner from New York Times bestselling author Heather Gudenkauf 

Sarah Quinlan’s husband, Jack, has been haunted for decades by the untimely death of his mother when he was just a teenager, her body found in the cellar of their family farm, the circumstances a mystery. The case rocked the small farm town of Penny Gate, Iowa, where Jack was raised, and for years Jack avoided returning home. But when his beloved aunt Julia is in an accident, hospitalized in a coma, Jack and Sarah are forced to confront the past that they have long evaded.

Upon arriving in Penny Gate, Sarah and Jack are welcomed by the family Jack left behind all those years ago—barely a trace of the wounds that had once devastated them all. But as facts about Julia’s accident begin to surface, Sarah realizes that nothing about the Quinlans is what it seems. Caught in a flurry of unanswered questions, Sarah dives deep into the puzzling rabbit hole of Jack’s past. But the farther in she climbs, the harder it is for her to get out. And soon she is faced with a deadly truth she may not be prepared for.


In Heather Gudenkauf’s newest release, Missing Pieces, Sarah Quinlan grows suspicious of her husband Jack after learning he has been lying about his past for the last twenty years.

As soon as Jack gets the news that his beloved Aunt Julia has been gravely injured in a fall, he and Sarah make a hurried trip to his rural hometown in Iowa. It does not take long for Jack’s carefully constructed past to come tumbling down when his sister Amy makes cryptic comments about their family home, where their cousin Dean and his wife Celia now reside. Pressing her husband for answers, Sarah quickly learns that Jack’s parents did not die in a car crash as he has long professed. She is stunned to discover his mother, Lydia, was bludgeoned to death in the cellar of their farmhouse when Jack was fifteen years old and that his long missing father John remains the prime suspect in her murder. When Julia unexpectedly succumbs to her injuries, the Quinlan family falls under suspicion when Sheriff Verne Gilmore announces she was the victim of foul play.

Sarah’s shock and distress over Jack’s lies is understandable as is her search for answers, but her immediate suspicions about him make it difficult to like her. Given the circumstances with his aunt’s precarious health, it is little wonder he has the desire or energy to rehash his sordid past. Jack’s downplaying of old relationships is definitely cause for concern but Sarah’s resulting jealousy seems misplaced.

Sarah does not give Jack the benefit of the doubt upon learning he deliberately mislead her about his past nor does she give him much of a chance to explain his reasons for his deception. Instead, with each new discovery, she grows convinced he killed his mother and although there is no way he is responsible for his aunt’s initial injuries, she cannot help but wonder if he had a hand in her death as well.

Turning to an unlikely source for help, Sarah manages to get the police reports from his mother’s murder. As she listens to his police interviews and reads the witness statements, a troubling picture soon emerges about fifteen year old Jack and she becomes certain he is responsible for Lydia’s death. This quick indictment of her husband clouds Sarah’s judgment and gives her tunnel vision during her amateur investigation of both murders.

Events unfold at a breakneck speed and there is a strong sense of urgency to discover the truth as Sarah tries to piece together the truth about what happened to Jack’s mother and his Aunt Julia. Sheriff Gilmore’s primary concern is finding Julia’s killer and although certain he has the right person in custody, he continues searching for evidence. He eventually makes a shocking discovery that casts doubt on his theory about Lydia’s death but whether this has any bearing on his current investigation remains unclear. When Sarah finally understands the meaning behind a puzzling series of e-mails, she is certain she has uncovered the motive for the murders, but only time will tell if her supposition is correct.

Despite a few improbable plot points and a somewhat unsympathetic lead protagonist, Missing Pieces is an intriguing mystery that is quite riveting. Heather Gudenkauf cleverly conceals the both the motive for the murders and the killer’s identity right up until the novel’s dramatic conclusion. All in all, a suspense-laden novel that fans of the genre will enjoy.

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Filed under Contemporary, Harlequin, Heather Gudenkauf, Mira, Missing Pieces, Mystery, Rated B, Review, Suspense