The Lying Woods by Ashley Elston
Owen Foster has never wanted for anything. Then his mother shows up at his elite New Orleans boarding school cradling a bombshell: his privileged life has been funded by stolen money. After using the family business, the single largest employer in his small Louisiana town, to embezzle millions and drain the employees’ retirement accounts, Owen’s father vanished without a trace, leaving Owen and his mother to deal with the fallout.
Owen returns to Lake Cane to finish his senior year, where people he can barely remember despise him for his father’s crimes. It’s bad enough dealing with muttered insults and glares, but when Owen and his mother receive increasingly frightening threats from someone out for revenge, he knows he must get to the bottom of what really happened at Louisiana Frac–and the cryptic note his father sent him at his boarding school days before disappearing.
Owen’s only refuge is the sprawling, isolated pecan orchard he works at after school, owned by a man named Gus who has his own secrets–and in some ways seems to know Owen better than he knows himself. As Owen uncovers a terrible injustice that looms over the same Preacher Woods he’s claimed as his own, he must face a shocking truth about his own past–and write a better future.
I wasn’t quite sure what to expect going into this book. I requested it because it was listed as a mystery. I feel like it was so much more though. It wasn’t a mystery in the same way as some of the books I read. This one had such a focus on relationships, especially family.
The story is told by Owen, but there are sections after Owen’s that go back into the past and are told by his dad. These start off with his dad meeting and working for Gus and then meeting Owen’s mom. It’s how their relationship started.
Owen is at boarding school when his mom shows up and tells him that they have to leave. Owen’s dad took off with money from his company that wasn’t his. He left them with nothing except for a note that Owen got in the mail the day before. He doesn’t tell his mom about it though. Owen has to move back home, but not into their massive home. Owen and his mom move into his aunt’s house, even though his mom and aunt don’t get along well. Owen’s mom is getting threats, everyone thinks she knew about the theft, and their house and possessions are being auctioned off.
Owen struggles to fit in when he gets back. Everyone is mad at him, too. Most of the town lost all their savings because of Owen’s dad. He does find a friend in his old best friend, Pippa, but it takes awhile for them to connect again. He also meets Gus. Gus gives him a truck to use and a job. Owen spends a lot of time there with him.
Owen wants to know if his dad is guilty and if so, why he did it. He starts looking into the business and his dad’s past. We see most of the past in the sections at the ends of the chapters. Owen will eventually find out more than he expected. There are a lot of secrets that need to come out.
I gave this one 4 stars. Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for my copy for review.
Have you read The Lying Woods yet? Is it on your TBR?