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The Body in the Woods by April Henry

Killers don’t like know-it-alls.

Interests/Topics: mystery, murder, crime, friendship, family relations, mental illness

Curriculum Connections: English, Geography

Gender: F/M

Age: 12+

Blurb: I’ve always loved a good whodunit. My “happy place” consists of a lounge chair, a beach, a cool drink, and a paperback with a page-turning mystery. I really do enjoy all types of books, but when I want to relax, when I want to forget about life’s challenges, I immerse myself in the edginess and trickery of the suspense genre. It’s my brain candy.

Ruby, in April Henry’s The Body in the Woods, also likes a good mystery. In fact, she’s obsessed with finding obscure clues and solving puzzles. That’s why being a volunteer for Oregon State’s Search and Rescue Team is such a natural fit for her. Searching for missing people in Portland’s forests provides an outlet for Ruby’s insatiable curiosity, even though her persistence annoys the police and her fellow teammates.

Alexis and Nick have their own reasons for joining the team; it’s the logical choice for long hours away from family drama and for fulfilling extra-curricular requirements. Unfortunately it also means long hours spent with Ruby and her eccentricities. A person can only handle so much of Ruby’s know-it-all chatter.

When their team’s search party locates a dead girl instead of a live man, Ruby is convinced that she can find the killer. But her parents insist that she quit the team, the police won’t listen to her theories, and Alexis and Nick think she is beyond weird.

Unbeknownst to Ruby, the one person who recognizes that she may, in fact, know it all, is the only person alive who would know for sure.

Killers don’t like know-it-alls.


“’No,’ Alexis thought. ‘No, please, I’m not seeing this.” But she was. It was a back. A human back, clad in a black jacket. The hump of a shoulder, a dip, the smaller hill of the hip. From this angle, she could not see the legs or the face. All she could see was the back. Unmoving. Half curled around a bush. [Alexis’s] blood chilled.” (22)

“Anger made Ruby rigid, locked her rebuttal in her throat….Her parents were wrong to think that Search and Rescue was making her any weirder than she already was. If anything, it gave her a place where she finally fit. But now it would be gone. And she would be back to being the kind of girl who edited Wikipedia for fun.” (64)

“’What’s wrong?’ Ruby asked? ‘You got those other two riled up,’ Detective Harriman said, ‘thinking they were supposed to be doing my job or something. Only you’re not a detective, you’re not a cop, you’re not a superhero. So don’t go acting like one.’” (223)

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