If it's not on the list, it doesn't exist.

Like most people these days, you have to write everything down or you'll forget. Long notes, short sticky-notes, little pieces of paper all help you to remember things to do, to buy, or to sign and if it's not written down, well, then, sorry. If it's not on the list, it doesn't exist — although, as in the new novel, "Girl A" by Abigail Dean, some things are best forgotten.

Alexandra Gracie was sure that her mother's will was some sort of manipulation from beyond the grave. Lex hadn't seen her mother since the woman's trial; she never visited her mother in prison, nor wanted to. So why, other than manipulation, would Deborah Gracie name Lex as executor, making Lex find siblings she hadn't spoken to in years? And why would any of them want what the neighbors had called the "House of Horrors"?

Ethan, the oldest, was easy to find: his wedding was scheduled soon and he hoped that Lex would be there. She'd never asked him how he escaped their Father's cruelty, or why he never spoke up while she and her siblings starved.

Ethan said that Delilah would be at the reception; she'd been her father's favorite, and she only spoke up on Gabriel's behalf – perhaps because they'd been chained together. Evie, it seemed, hadn't decided about attending but Lex hoped she would. Father had kept Lex and Evie in the same room back then, beds just feet apart, separated by trash and filth; despite – or perhaps because – they were together those months, the two sisters were still close.

She'd still have to find Noah; he was just a baby back then, but she knew his adopted name. Then everyone would have to sign off on donating the Gracie property, on doing something good with the forlorn, ramshackle house.

Their names, their signatures, and it would be done.

But Lex wasn't quite done remembering...

With a back-and-forth storytelling style that could take a bit of getting used-to and a ripped-from-the-headlines plot that may sound familiar, "Girl A" instantly thrums with an oozing dark foreboding that leaves you edgy, like seeing a flashing ambulance turn the corner down your street. And no, this isn't a crime drama or a slasher tale; instead, author Abigail Dean offers authentic monsters, and real-life horrors that come in fat drops that plop into the story, slug-like, leaving a trail you can't resist following. How could you, with a therapist-catalyst who prods you along, and a narrator who's breezily, confidently dealt with it all?

Or has she? Dean's Lex is a likable enigma, pondering memories in her mind as though she's turning over a smooth stone in her fingers. She sets the perfect atmosphere for a perfect plot-twist. Or two.

Or three.

Pick up a bookmark when you get this book. Bring it home and then put it in a drawer because you won't need it. Nope, the mere idea of putting "Girl A" down is a thought that won't exist.

The bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer and can be reached at bookwormsez@yahoo.com.

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