book cover of The Taken Ones
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The Taken Ones

(The first book in the Steinbeck and Reed series)
A novel by

2024 Edgar Award for Best Paperback original (nominee)

Two girls vanished. A woman buried alive. Between two crimes lie decades of secrets yet to be unearthed in a pulse-pounding novel by the Edgar Award–nominated author of Unspeakable Things.

Summer 1980: Despite the local superstition that the Bendy Man haunts the woods, three girls go into a Minnesota forest. Only one comes out, dead silent, her memory gone. The mystery of the Taken Ones captures the nation.

Summer 2022: Cold case detective Van Reed and forensic scientist Harry Steinbeck are assigned a disturbing homicide—a woman buried alive, clutching a heart charm necklace belonging to one of the vanished girls. Van follows her gut. Harry trusts in facts. They’re both desperate to catch a killer before he kills again. They have something else in common: each has ties to the original case in ways they’re reluctant to share.

As Van and Harry connect the crimes of the past and the present, Van struggles with memories of her own nightmarish childhood—and the fear that uncovering the truth of the Taken Ones will lead her down a path from which she, too, may never return.

Genre: Mystery

Praise for this book

"Setting the standard for top-notch thrillers, The Taken Ones is smart, compelling, and filled with utterly real characters. Lourey brings her formidable storytelling talent to the game and, on top of that, wows us with a deft stylistic touch. This is a one-sitting read!" - Jeffery Deaver

"Lourey is at the top of her game with The Taken Ones. A master of building tension while maintaining a riveting pace, Lourey is a hell of a writer on all fronts, but her greatest talent may be her characters. Evangeline Reed, an agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is a woman with a devastating past and the haunting ability to know the darkest crimes happening around her. She is also exactly the kind of character I would happily follow through a dozen books or more. In awe of her bravery, I also identified with her pain and wanted desperately to protect her. Along with an incredible cast of support characters, The Taken Ones will break your heart wide open and stay with you long after you've turned the final page. This is a 2023 must read." - Danielle Girard

"The Taken Ones has Jess Lourey's trademark of suspense all the way. A damaged and brave heroine, an equally damaged evildoer, and missing girls from long ago all combine to keep the reader rushing through to the explosive ending." - Charlaine Harris

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