The Body in the Woods Blog Tour: April Henry on What Makes a Good Detective


Welcome to the blog tour for

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for THE BODY IN THE WOODS! I’m a big fan of YA books that a strictly mysteries so I was super excited to be able to be a part of the blog tour and pick author April Henry’s brain on mystery writing! She has a guest post for everyone today on what makes a good detective and even analyzes each of her main characters!

If you’re not familiar with THE BODY IN THE WOODS, it is being released on JUNE 17th — so close! Before we head on over to the blog post, here’s a little bit more about THE BODY IN THE WOODS:

The Body in the WoodsPublishing Info: June 17th 2014 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Genre: Young Adult (Mystery)
POV: First Person (Alexis, Nick, Ruby)
Find It Online:  Goodreads // Amazon // B&N

   “In this new series told from multiple perspectives, teen members of a search and rescue team discover a dead body in the woods.
Alexis, Nick, and Ruby have very different backgrounds: Alexis has spent her life covering for her mom’s mental illness, Nick’s bravado hides his fear of not being good enough, and Ruby just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her. When the three teens join Portland County Sheriff’s Search and Rescue, they are teamed up to search for a autistic man lost in the woods. What they find instead is a dead body. In a friendship that will be forged in danger, fear, and courage, the three team up to find the girl’s killer—before he can strike one of their own.
This first book in April Henry’s Point Last Seen YA mystery series is full of riveting suspense, putting readers in the middle of harrowing rescues and crime scene investigations
” — From Goodreads


What makes a good detective? What a great question! Even though I’ve written something like 20 books, I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about this consciously. So I worked on this list and only then considered whether the three main characters in The Body in the Woods actually have these traits. I’m relieved to say that they do!

In the book, the three join Portland County Sheriffs Search and Rescue, and eventually they become friends at the same time as they track down a serial killer. They are:

  • Alexis – who has grown up covering for her mom’s mental illness.
  • Nick – whose bravado hides his fear of not being good enough.
  • Ruby – who just wants to pursue her eccentric interests in a world that doesn’t understand her.

So what makes a good detective? Someone who:

  • is curious. If she’s not curious, she’s not going to notice the seemingly insignificant clues that the reader is also going to overlook (and then feel amazed and yet satisfied when they turn out to be key to the mystery’s solution). All three characters—Ruby, Alexis and Nick—are naturally curious, but Ruby curiosity about certain things, especially crime, borders on obsession.
  • has a personal stake in the outcome. Your detective needs a reason to keep pursuing the answers, even in the face of danger. It could be his own reputation or life is at risk, but it’s even better if he is fighting to save someone else, especially someone he loves. Over the course of the book, Alexis is worried about her mom as well as a friend she meets. And by the end, all three of my main characters are in danger—and willing to do anything to save the other two.
  • has a flaw. Does she battle an alcohol addiction? Have a fear of heights or babies? Is she constantly shooting off her mouth? While she may solve the mystery, her flaw might always trouble her. I think that’s probably true for Nick, Ruby and Alexis.
  • deeply desires something. Love, respect, friends, revenge, popularity, to find her birth mother. Alexis wants her mother to be normal. Nick wants to live up to his soldier father, who died a hero in Iraq. Ruby wants to have a friend.
  • has a special talent. On the surface, it might not even seem that special. I once read a great mystery where the main character was a librarian, and solved the mystery using his research skills. In William Goldman’s The Marathon Man, the main character, a marathon runner, escapes by running away, despite having been tortured. If your main character is a shoemaker, then the finale should involve her using her shoemaker skills, such as hammering tiny tacks or knowing someone’s shoe size just by looking. Of the three characters, Ruby is probably the one whose talents are best suited for crime fighting. She is very detail oriented, and notices the smallest of changes. She is also fascinated by true crime.
  • who is able to be brave when it’s required. The character doesn’t need to be brave all the time. In fact, he might be more believable if he occasionally wimps out or turns tail. But when the chips are down, when the character’s back is against the wall, then he needs to be draw on a strength he might not even have known he had. And that’s true for all three, but especially Nick.

As it says in the beginning:

For Alexis Frost, Nick Walker, and Ruby McClure, it all started with a phone call and two texts. It ended with fear and courage, love and loathing, screaming and blood. Lots of blood.

The book was inspired by Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue, and I have been so impressed with the amazing things these kids do every day. For every sale made in person or online at the first week The Body in the Woods is on sale, I will donate $1.69 to MCSO SAR.

Thanks, April!!! I’m always fascinated by authors who write mysteries and how they devise such wonderful characters who perform detective work. It’s so awesome to see each character broken down like that and how their skills really differ from one to the other!

Want to connect with April Henry? Check out her links below!

And be sure to check out the stops on THE BODY IN THE WOODS blog tour too! Another thanks to Macmillan for hosting the tour and putting everything together!


Want to win a copy of the book? Macmillan is offering a hardcover copy up for giveaway! One winner will receive a hardcover copy of THE BODY IN THE WOODS plus a book promo whistle! Just enter the rafflecopter form below to enter! Giveaway will be open to entries for one week, US & Canada entries only, please. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hi, I'm Brittany!
Hi, I'm Brittany!

I'm an avid reader, candle-maker, and audiobook lover! Here you'll find book reviews, fun blog posts, and my other loves of photography & craft beer!

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9 thoughts on “The Body in the Woods Blog Tour: April Henry on What Makes a Good Detective

  1. Allison R

    I’ve read The night she disappeared and loved the mystery behind everything. There needs to be more mysteries like this out there!

  2. Tamara

    I love mysteries! I read The Girl Who Was Supposed To Die and I loved it. I can’t wait to read this.

  3. Kay

    There is never enough YA mystery. April Henry’s The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die wasn’t my favorite book, but I did enjoy reading it. Therefore, I must give this one a try because there isn’t enough YA mystery and because this book sounds even better!

  4. Becky LeJeune

    I am definitely a YA mystery advocate and am especially interested in reading BODY IN THE WOODS. Many ages ago I was a BIG fan of Henry’s Claire Montrose series!

  5. Crystal @Crystal in Bookland

    Ahhhhh I’m SOOOO excited for this book!!!! I seriously can not wait to read it! A blogger friend is letting me borrow it so I’m just waiting for it to come in the mail! I absolutely love YA mystery/thrillers.

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