A girl living in a depressed coal mining town finds a wealthy boy in the woods who has been savagely beaten, then searches for him when he disappears.
Winter Crane intends to escape both her alcoholic father and her trailer-park life in the largely white Appalachian community of Reeve’s End. On a hunting trip, she finds Lennon unconscious in the woods. She fashions a makeshift stretcher for him and drags him back to her tiny hunting shack, where he tells her he knows her friend Edie, but Edie’s missing. Then Lennon disappears. With Jude, Lennon’s older brother, Winter embarks on a quest to find him and to investigate what has happened to the many young people who have left Reeve’s End. The search takes the partners to the boys’ wealthy parents’ home, where she’s accosted. The plot thickens even further when Winter finds the body of another missing Reeve’s End young man. Unable to count on the incompetent local police, Winter and Jude find themselves in several dangerous situations as they clamber through abandoned mines and the like. Complicating the situation is a pack of menacing feral dogs that roams the area. Characterizations ring true, especially that of Winter, who dreams of becoming a doctor. Armstrong develops a possible romance between Winter and Jude even as she pursues her mystery plot. As it thickens, and the danger turns into a serious life-or-death threat, the narrative easily holds readers’ interest.
Thrills and mystery from a pro. (Suspense. 14-18)