Title: The Life Group
Author: Maura Jortner
Publication Date: Jan. 9, 2017
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ONE MISSING GIRL. NO SUSPECTS.
Every day since her sister vanished, Rachel has visited the radical church where Leah was last seen. There are still no suspects or leads, but Rachel’s positive clues lie in that church somewhere.
Thirteen days on from Leah's disappearance, the pastor introduces Rachel to Tim, a devout worshiper of his Lord. To avoid dealing with his own demons, he agrees to spend the day helping Rachel search for her sister.
It’s Saturday, March 14. Maybe today will be the day. Maybe today Rachel will be reunited with Leah. Or maybe today will change Rachel’s life forever.
For fans of GONE GIRL, this gripping Young Adult thriller will keep you guessing until its explosive climax.
'...a truly original storyline and taut pacing that pulls the reader relentlessly toward the devastating conclusion.' USA Today Bestselling author Lisa Stormes Hawker
'Teens and adults alike will devour this rollercoaster story...' Emily Bleeker, author of WRECKAGE and WHEN I'M GONE
Maura Jortner grew up in New Hampshire and now lives in Waco, Texas with her patient husband, two amazing daughters, and one unruly cat. She teaches literature and writing classes at Baylor University. A lifetime ago, she used to direct plays and put on puppet shows for kids, which led to a Ph.D. in Theatre History. Currently, when Maura’s not writing, she’s spending her time like every native-born Texan: worrying about how many chiggers might be hidden in the grass outside her house or if she put enough sunscreen on her kids.
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The house is a two-story nestled into the side of a hill. The lake shines in the distance between the trees and the tall grass. The sun reflects brightly off the calm water, making the sliver of blue look like it’s covered with golden jewels.
“I’ll scout around the property. Why don’t you try whatever tricks you have to get inside?” I say.
Tim throws me a smile and something like a wink. He jaunts off.
I circle the house, looking for clues, hoping to spot something of Leah’s. What could Mason have been staring at that night? He gawked out the window every time Kaylee mentioned Leah, that’s what Kaylee said. So what was he looking at? There’s nothing suspicious in the back or the front, nothing of hers. Maybe a grave? I should search for newly turned earth. An open question: If I were to bury someone, would I dig the hole on my property or someone else’s? My first impulse would be to plant the evidence far away from me—to throw the cops off my trail. But what if the neighbors saw me? I’m digging up my own lawn, they’d leave me alone. If I’m messing up someone else’s ... or worse, theirs? Then they’d bother me for sure, and if I’m a murderer, that’s the last thing I’d want.
I decide I need to look harder, to comb the property, to find the hidden, secret places. I’m on my hands and knees crawling under a bush when Tim finds me.
“Won’t you join me inside, or are you doing something really important under there?”
I clamber out and stand. “You got in?”
“I did.” He leans close, conspiratorially. “Although it would seem ill-advised, they left the back door unlocked.”
I’m not sure if I believe him.
With his dark eyes shining with mystery, he says, “Come see what I found.”
My heart does a kind of jump that’s almost painful. “What?” I say with a sharp inhale. “What is it?” I can’t breathe. Did he find a bloody knife or a hammer? Leah’s body?
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