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Before She Was Found

Before She Was Found, April 2019
by Heather Gudenkauf

Park Row
352 pages
ISBN: 0778307735
EAN: 9780778307730
Kindle: B07CS5X1R7
Trade Size / e-Book
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"What happened to Cora in the train yard?"

Fresh Fiction Review

Before She Was Found
Heather Gudenkauf

Reviewed by Debbie Wiley
Posted September 1, 2019

Thriller Domestic | Thriller Psychological

Three twelve-year-old girls went to a train yard late one night. Unfortunately, one girl, Cora Landry, emerges on a stretcher with numerous injuries. Violet Crow is covered in Cora’s blood and keeps insisting that an urban legend caused Cora’s injuries, while Jordyn Petit keeps tripping over her own stories. What happened that night to Cora?

It’s hard to talk about BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND without revealing spoilers, as part of the enjoyment of this story is how Heather Gudenkauf unveils the various details, and I don’t want to ruin that for anyone. I love that we get to see perspectives from many of the different individuals involved, and I particularly appreciated Dr. Madeline Gibson for her work with Cora in the hospital. The diary entries are a chilling portrait of what so many children face today when they struggle to fit in with their peers.

Told through a variety of formats, including Cora’s diary, various narrators, and police interviews, BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND weaves a dark and compelling tale. Readers familiar with a news story (and the subsequent HBO documentary) featuring the Slender Man will recognize the inspiration for BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND, but Heather Gudenkauf puts her own diabolically clever twist on the story line. Heather Gudenkauf is a master at crafting stories that are both suspenseful and deeply emotional, and BEFORE SHE WAS FOUND is yet another stellar example.

Learn more about Before She Was Found


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.

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