April Henry has crafted yet another riveting novel of suspense with The Girl Who Was Supposed To Die. The novel opens with an unnamed girl awakening to find herself a captive of two unknown men. She can't remember her name, nor how she came to be where she is - in a cabin alone. She has also experienced some kind of torture as she's missing two fingernails on her left hand and has a loose tooth.
The two men are discussing what to do with her. She panics when she one man tell the other to take her out back and kill her. As she is being dragged out to be "finished off", she overpowers the other man who is now alone with her, knocking him unconscious and taking his wallet, gun, cell phone and car keys. From his ID she learns his name is Michael Brenner.
After checking the cabin, the girl takes the SUV in the driveway and using the cell phone makes her way to Newberry Ranch - an Oregon Park security station. At the security station she talks to Officer Dillow, telling him what has happened and how she doesn't remember who she is or how she came to be at the cabin. He is skeptical of her claims, but she shows him her injuries and Brenner's wallet.
Shortly afterwards, Dillow fields a phone call which he says is from the Bend police station. He tells her that he will take her to the Bend station where they have police officers who can deal with her situation. He manages to get her into the police car back seat and when she is safely locked in, Dillow tells her that he received a call from a Dr. Nowell who informed him that her name is Katie and that she is a inpatient at the mental hospital, Sagebrush. Dr. Nowell also tells Dillow that Katie attacked a counselor, Michael Brenner, there and that without her medication she hallucinates.
While Katie doesn't know if any of this is true but she does know that the story doesn't quite add up because of her injuries and the fact that she has Brenner's gun. Katie forces Dillow to release her at gunpoint, from the police car and driving Brenner's SUV sets out to try to learn the truth and find someone she can trust.
The person turns out to be a guy named Ty working at the McDonald's in Bend where Katie stops to buy a meal. Ty surmises that Katie is in trouble and when two men come looking for her at the fast food restaurant, Ty manages to throw them off long enough to get her safely to his apartment. With the help of Ty, maybe Katie can recover her memory and find out why she is being hunted by mysterious men in black, who want her dead.
The Girl Who Was Supposed To Die is exciting and fast paced, as Cady faces one situation after the next. The plot twists keep readers guessing until the last chapters unfold to a appealing resolution. Henry weaves together a complicated storyline containing murder, kidnapping and torture all in order to make millions from a potential biological weapon.
While readers don't know much about Katie, who we later learn is really Cady, a nickname for Cadence, she is presented as a resourceful, quick-thinking girl with a touch of martial arts skills. The story is told from her point of view, so the reader is uncertain at first as to how reliable a narrator she really is. This only adds to the deepening mystery of why Cady is being tracked down.
The star is really Ty, a quirky student living on his own, who demonstrates compassion and courage as well as a determination to stick by Cady no matter what, even when it appears she might at last be safe. The bad guys in the novel are presented as typical cardboard men in black who talk in tough cliches but seem mostly inept at coping with a teenage girl. But none of that really matters because the reader is more concerned with the outcome for Cady.
Readers wanting a quick suspenseful read will enjoy Henry's latest in her canon of short mystery thrillers.
The Girl Who Was Supposed To Die by April Henry
New York: Henry Holt & Company 2013