April Henry

April Henry

In April's own words:

I grew up in a small Oregon town, and I still remember my mom teaching me with alphabet flash cards. White with a picture of an object on one side and a letter on the other, those cards glowed with magic.

When I was 12, I sent Roald Dahl, the author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a short story about a frog named Herman who loved peanut butter. The day he received it, Dahl had lunch with the editor of an international children's magazine and read her the story. She contacted me and asked to publish it. Click here to read more about it.

But as I got older, even though I read all the time, I didn't even dream of being a writer. It would have been like thinking I could fly by flapping my arms really, really hard. Then I got a hospital job with lots of down time and started thinking maybe I could try to write a book about the life and death that surrounded me every day.

That first book I wrote attracted no interest from agents. My second book got me an agent (and we're still together many years and many books later) and nice rejection letters from editors. My third book didn't even get nice rejection letters from editors. My fourth book sold in two days. It was a seven-year overnight success.

Since then, I've written more than a dozen mysteries and thrillers for teens and adults. The first in the Triple Threat Club series, co-written with Lis Wiehl, was on the New York Times bestseller list for four weeks. It was followed by Hand of Fate and Heart of Ice.

My first young adult novel, Shock Point was an ALA Quick Pick, a Top 10 Books for Teens nominee, a New York Library's Books for the Teen Age book, named to the Texas Tayshas list, and a finalist for Philadelphia's Young Readers Choice Award. It was followed by two more teen thrillers: Torched and Girl, Stolen. Girl, Stolen was an ALA Quick Pick and an ALA Best Books for Young Adults and is a finalist for many state awards.

My books have been short-listed for the Agatha Award, the Anthony Award, and the Oregon Book Award, and chosen twice for Booksense by the independent booksellers of America. They have been translated into Japanese, Spanish, Dutch, German, Polish, and French.

The Night She Disappeared

Henry Holt, 2012

Gabie drives a Mini Cooper. She also works part time as a delivery girl at Pete's Pizza. One night, Kayla—another delivery girl—goes missing. To her horror, Gabie learns that the supposed kidnapper had asked if the girl in the Mini Cooper was working that night. Gabie can't move beyond the fact that Kayla's fate was really meant for her, and she becomes obsessed with finding Kayla. She teams up with Drew, who also works at Pete's. Together, they set out to prove that Kayla isn't dead—and to find her before she is.

Girl, Stolen

Christy Ottaviano Books, 2010

Sixteen year-old Cheyenne Wilder is sleeping in the back of a car while her mom fills her prescription at the pharmacy. Before Cheyenne realizes what's happening, their car is being stolen--with her inside! Griffin hadn't meant to kidnap Cheyenne, all he needed to do was steal a car for the others. But once Griffin's dad finds out that Cheyenne's father is the president of a powerful corporation, everything changes—now there's a reason to keep her. What Griffin doesn't know is that Cheyenne is not only sick with pneumonia, she is blind. How will Cheyenne survive this nightmare, and if she does, at what price?


Putnam Juvenile, 2009

When Ellie's parents are busted for possession of marijuana, the FBI gives her a choice: infiltrate the Mother Earth Defenders (MED), a radical environmental group, or her parents will go to jail. At first Ellie is more than willing to entrap the MEDics, but the more time she spends undercover -- particularly with Coyote, the green-eyed MEDic that she can't stop thinking about -- the more she starts to believe in their cause. When talk turns to murder, Coyote backs out, but Ellie is willing to risk everything to save her family -- even if it means losing Coyote and putting her own life on the line.

Face of Betrayal

co-written with FOX-TV's Lis Wiehl

Thomas Nelson, 2009

While home on Christmas holiday, seventeen-year-old Katie Converse, a Senate page takes her dog out for a walk and never returns. Reporter Cassidy Shaw is the first to break the story. The media firestorm soon engulfs Federal Prosecutor Allison Pierce and FBI Special Agent Nicole Hedges. Was Katie romantically involved with a senator - and is he linked to her disappearance?

Shock Point

Putnam Juvenile 2006

Sixteen-year-old Cassie's stepfather Rick is about to strike it rich with Socom, a new behavioral drug in which Rick is a big investor. But then Cassie discovers that Rick, a teen psychiatrist, has already been prescribing Socom illegally to his patients—and three teens have died.

Before she can report him, Rick has Cassie committed to Peaceful Cove, a sadistic boot camp for troubled teens in Mexico where the only way out is to graduate at age eighteen. Cassie knows she has to get out now, before more teens die from Socom. But no one has ever escaped from Peaceful Cove alive—and even if Cassie gets over the walls and survives the Mexican desert, will anyone believe her story?

A taut, psychological thriller ripped from today's headlines, Shock Point deftly explores the cutting edge issue of behavioral drugs while taking readers on a roller coaster ride of action and suspense.

Buried Diamonds

St. Martin's Press 2003

Claire Montrose discovers an engagement ring that has gone missing for 50 years. Did the young woman who owned it really commit suicide? One of Claire's elderly neighbors harbors an old secret - and will kill to keep it hidden. Past and present grow more entangled when neo-Nazis target Claire's Jewish roommate. Henry's trademark mix of quirky characters, humor, and vanity license plates also explores the persistent shadows of the past.

Learning to Fly

St. Martin's Press 2002

The chaotic scene of a huge, fiery chain-reaction car accident leaves Free Meeker in the possession of someone else's bag and the hitchhiker she has just picked up dead. By the next morning, 19-year-old Free, daughter of aging hippies, has discovered that the bag contains nearly a million dollars - and that the hitchhiker's body has been identified as hers. Fate seems to be handing her the chance to make her life over. But when the owner of the drug money realizes it didn't burn up in the fire, things get complicated. And things only get worse when the hitchhiker's stalking husband decides that Free must be some do-gooder hiding his wife.

Learning to Fly has been translated into Japanese and Dutch, was a Booksense 76 pick, an Otto Penzler pick, one of Library Journal's Best of 2002, and a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. It has been optioned for film.

Heart-Shaped Box

HarperCollins 2001

The inimitable Claire Montrose is back, and as delightful as ever, in this third installment in April Henry's acclaimed mystery series.

Claire wasn't part of the in-crowd at Minor High. In fact, she didn't have many friends at all, spending most of her time outside of school toiling at Pietro's Pizza. Yet when the invitation to her 20-year high-school reunion comes in the mail, she decides to go.

After all, Claire is no longer the girl she was in high school, the one who was too smart, too tall, too skinny, and who looked a lot younger than she was. Now maybe all her old handicaps are actually to her advantage. At thirty-seven, it's good to be smart, tall, thin and look younger than you actually are. Not only that, she has a hip boyfriend named Dante, and a windfall from an old painting she inherited. The painting turned out to be a Vermeer, and its sale freed her from her former job vetting vanity plates for the department of motor vehicles. So Claire sets off to see old friends, old lovers and maybe even a few old enemies.

While checking into Ye Olde Pioneer Village for the weekend festivities, Claire receives a mysterious package containing a heart-shaped box. Inside is a high school yearbook picture of Claire. Is it a secret admirer? Before Claire figures out who might have sent it, another box turns up—in the limp hand of Cindy Sanchez, the former head cheerleader, who is found strangled in the parking lot.

Before the night is over, five more women reveal they, too, have received heart-shaped boxes. Is there a killer on the loose who will claim them all before the reunion is over? Was Cindy's murder simply a mugging gone bad? Or was Cindy, who had more lovers—and more enemies—than anyone else in school, the only one marked for murder?

In a tale combining equal parts suspense and humor, Claire and the Minor High Class of '79 suffer a reunion nightmare they won't soon forget. While secrets are revealed as the reunited class suspiciously examines its ranks, Claire struggles to stop a killer before the killer stops her.

Square in the Face

Avon, 2001

Square in the Face is the second book in April Henry's delightfully entertaining, acclaimed mystery series in which danger often takes an unexpected shape. HAPYDAZE

Claire Montrose can't believe her good luck. Once upon a time, she was a mousy employee in the Oregon State License Plate Division with the odd job of deciding which vanity plate applications passed the good-taste test. Now she has a charming artist boyfriend in New York City and a quirky group of friends and family that keeps her happily settled in Portland. But when a former coworker and friend urgently needs her help, Claire agrees to do a little sleuthing. HELLP!

Years ago, Lori gave up her child to a secretive adoption agency. Now Lori's young son is ill, and the doctors say his only hope is a bone marrow transplant from a sibling. Lori talks Claire into finding her long-lost daughter. Unfortunately, as Claire scours the city for the information that could save the boy's life, she has little to go on besides her common sense and her own two feet. MR. E

The closer Claire gets to the truth, the more twisted and perilous the search becomes. Using her wits, charm, and savvy sleuthing skills, she digs up old secrets -- but someone is willing to kill to keep them buried. Meanwhile, Claire has a problem closer to home: a mother addicted to television shopping channels. DANGRRR

April Henry's Square in the Face is a captivating, crime-solving adventure starring the inimitable Claire Montrose, a woman with the deductive powers and scrappy determination to discover the hidden meaning of any license plate and to rescue a friend from a desperate fate.

Circles of Confusion

Harper 2000

Certain to be one of the most talked about first novels to come around in years, April Henry's Circles of Confusion delivers a taut, engrossing mystery that deftly intertwines the mundane life of a civil servant with the elite world of priceless art.

With the exception of having the power to reject obscene and salacious requests for vanity license plates, Claire Montrose leads an ordinary, if not monotonous, life. Working nine to five in the Portland motor vehicle department for as long as she can remember, the young woman's daily routines are suddenly interrupted when she inherits the possessions of a great aunt. Clearing out the elderly spinster's cluttered trailer, Claire becomes fascinated with a beautiful painting, tucked away and hidden for decades in an old suitcase under the bed.

In the hopes of determining the painting's origin and worth, Claire goes to New York City. But what begins as curiosity about the captivating picture quickly turns to uneasiness as Claire's quest for information finds her in the company of suspicious people vying for her trust. From the sleep and polished appraiser at a famed auction house to the bohemian artist Claire bumps into at the Museum of Modern Art, it seems everyone's interest in the little painting goes far beyond the surface. Though immediately deemed a forgery, Claire cannot understand the continued concern for her possession, and the continued attention of the two men.

When her hotel room is ransacked, Claire is forced on a risky journey alone. Secretly returning to Portland, Claire realizes in an instant that danger has followed, and finds, too, that her tedious life was not everything it had appeared to be. Unable to trust anyone, Claire desperately tries to keep one step ahead of her enemies and stay alive long enough to find out the truth about the coveted piece of art and her pursuers.

The kickoff title in a new mystery series featuring the clever and persevering Claire Montrose, Circles of Confusion is set to hook readers and make a name for first time author April Henry.

Buried Diamonds

Buried Diamonds is compelling, literate, moving. April Henry's complicated, three-dimensional characters lug around all the baggage of modern life--family woes, relationship jitters, old age--and turbulent pasts. Unplug the TV, turn off the phone, and prepare to be entertained in this polished gem from a writers' writer.
--Julia-Spencer Fleming

A warm prize for a chilly day.
- - Library Journal

Learning to Fly

Learning to Fly is a wonderful collision of suspense and character, a book about the desire to remake oneself and the danger of actually doing it. April Henry has written a sleek and inventive novel that begs to not be put down.
-- Jess Walter, author of Over Tumbled Graves

Learning to Fly is an intelligent yarn, complex yet easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. Henry has skillfully crafted a real page-turner with an intriguing, memorable heroine.
-- - James Grippando, nationally best-selling author of A King's Ransom

A nail-biting, gut-gripping thriller, Learning to Fly is funny, hip and wise. A story that succeeds on every level. I savored it from beginning to end.
-- Jenny Siler, author of Easy Money and Iced

An explosive, page-turning thriller. Unlikely heroine Free Meeker survives one catastrophe only to find herself in more danger than she could ever imagine and with much more at stake than her own life. April Henry's new novel takes you on a pulse pounding ride and steals your heart in the process.
-- Gregg Main, author of the LA Times Bestseller Every Trace

Funny, hip, wise and gripping.
- -Clues Unlimited

The suspense becomes deliciously unbearable. With Learning to Fly, Henry soars straight into the big leagues.
-- Starred Review, Booklist

Features a most interesting plot, told with easy grace, choice characterization and mounting tension.
- - Starred Review, Library Journal

A sure-footed chase novel that starts with a bang and rarely slows down.
-- Seattle Times

A high tension thriller [with] an endearing heroine.
-- Denver Post

Compulsive reading. A classic tale of an innocent on the lam, Learning to Fly has the kind of plot that would have made Hitchcock smile in evil anticipation of its cinematic possibilities.
-- Penzler Pick, Amazon

Fast paced and harrowing.
-- Bookpage

April Henry "kicks into high gear ... [with this] endangered woman saga.
-- Kirkus Reviews

An exciting thriller that will keep readers enthralled because the action never stops.
-- Harriet Klausner, The Best Reviews

Learning to Fly has got to be April Henry's breakout book. What a masterpiece!
-- Cozies, Capers and Crimes

-- Publishers Weekly

Learning to Fly is a wonderful collision of suspense and character, a book about the desire to remake oneself and the danger of actually doing it. April Henry has written a sleek and inventive novel that begs to not be put down.
-- Jess Walter, author of Over Tumbled Graves

Learning to Fly is an intelligent yarn, complex yet easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. Henry has skillfully crafted a real page-turner with an intriguing, memorable main character.
- - James Grippando, nationally best-selling author of A King's Ransom

A nail-biting, gut-gripping thriller, Learning to Fly is funny, hip and wise...A story that succeeds on every level. I savored it from beginning to end.
-- Jenny Siler, author of Easy Money and Iced

An explosive, page-turning thriller. Unlikely heroine Free Meeker survives one catastrophe only to find herself in more danger than she could ever imagine and with much more at stake than her own life. April Henry's new novel takes you on a pulse pounding ride and steals your heart in the process.
-- Gregg Main, author of the LA Times Bestseller Every Trace

Heart-Shaped Box

Dallas Morning News, March 9, 2001
"Witty and fun."

Salem Statesman Journal, March 18, 2001
"Adventurous and fun - just like Claire."

"April Henry delineates character with dazzle, insight, and grace. In Heart-Shaped Box, Henry probes past and present with power and perception. This is a compelling entry in a deservedly acclaimed series." —Carolyn Hart

About.com, February 15, 2001
"April Henry is a master of knowing how to make a book flow. She captures a reader's interest and does everything possible to keep it."

Oregonian, February 11, 2001
"Realistic characters put to the test in unusual, exciting situations ... When .. Belinda enters the reunion banquet room and keens like a stuck calf, it's a sure sign the fun is starting!"

Seattle Post-Intelligencer, February 2, 2001
"A rising mystery writer from Portland offers an accomplished third novel."

Library Journal, January 2001
"Lively action, a tidy circle of appealing characters and a focused, small-town location make this a solid work for all collections."

Willamette Week, January 24, 2001
"One of Portland's most popular authors is back with another mystery starring that interpid redhead, Claire Montrose."

Best-selling author Carolyn Hart
"This is a compelling entry in a deservedly acclaimed series."

Square in the Face

From The Seattle Times, March 12 2000
"Claire's return is chronicled in the engaging 'Square in the Face.'"

From The Dallas Morning News, March 1, 2000
"This highly readable novel combines questions of medical ethics, confidentiality, compassion, greed and fear. Ms. Henry is an accomplished writer who orchestrates her plot with skill. The story moves briskly to a satisfying - and surprising - conclusion."

From The Washington Times, April 16, 2000
"April Henry is spoiling us. ... Grab Circles in one hand and Square in the other because this is a character you are going to like."

From Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, June 2000
"The complex plot is a good one."

From The Oregonian - February 20, 2000
"The second Claire Montrose mystery is excellent. It's well-written, the characters are fully developed, the plot is fast moving and the mystery is satisfactorily resolved. ... a smoothly accomplished escapist confection."

From Publishers Weekly - January 17, 2000
"Henry writes an absorbing and at times moving mystery with a lively heroine." From Library Journal - March 1, 2000
"Agreeable prose, a steadily engaging plot and a few vanity plate puzzlers thrown in for good measure make this a recommended purchase."

Circles of Confusion

From Mystery News - April/May 1999
"Circles of Confusion - an artistic term - is a wonderful book! Amusing in voice, light and casual; it's an easy read. Henry spins an interesting plot.... Henry is adept at characterization.... This is a delightful book - I loved every minute of it! Henry humorously ends most passages with vanity license plate phrases, and in keeping with that vein, I have to say Circles of Confusion was GR8!"

From The Drood Review
"In her first novel, April Henry has created a cracker-jack plot that is intelligent, internally consistent and interesting. She has created an attractive protagonist and the tale is told in a strong voice that never drifts toward the cute. The art lore to which Claire is subjected in her search for the truth is thorough, fascinating and still doesn't interrupt the plot's pace and development. (The title refers to luminous spots caused by imperfections in a camera lens, an effect for which Vermeer was known.) A fine maiden effort."

From the March 21 Eugene Register Guard
"April Henry, a 39-year-old Portland resident who works in corporate communications, is attracting attention as a new writer to watch with this fast-paced debut mystery."

From The Mystery Reader
"...Ms. Henry has designed a worthy plot, then added some unusual twists and turns. In the beginning, despite Claire's skill at guessing vanity plates, she is somewhat slow at detecting. As the story progresses, she is able to fabricate some innovative tricks of her own. Admirably, Ms. Henry provides exactly the right amount of technical and background information, without writing a textbook full of extraneous details. She even creates an amusing game for her readers by including a number of unusual vanity plates to solve throughout the book – thankfully adding an answer key in the back. Circles of Confusion supplies abundant entertainment and tremendous potential for the continuing Claire Montrose mystery series."
-- Monica Pope

From The Oregonian - February 28, 1999
"A first time mystery novelist seldom strides onstage with more assuredness than April Henry. ... On the face of it, Henry's novel is of the popular mystery subgenre in which a spunky woman comes of age, realizing her personal potential by solving a crime. But Circles of Confusion is more than that - it's a deft and often witty story about art theft, historical guilt and the nature of memory and what is truly valuable in life. ... Such mysteries often settle for merely being cute. But Henry's artful writing elevates the story well above formula. Circles of Confusion is a galloping-fast red - smoothly written and bright with wit, but also tinged with somber reflections. There are good characters, a sense of consequences and a competence with shifting mood that's unusually skillful for a first novel. Henry's powers of description are formidable."

From The Denver Post, February 14, 1999
"There are many plot twists, all neatly foreshadowed in earlier chapters of the book, and abundant clues unobtrusively planted throughout the narrative, as well as a splendid crash course in art history. But the most fun of all are the chapter endings, each one featuring a vanity license plate that needs to be deciphered....Want more? BYDBK

From Publishers Weekly, January 19, 1999
"An amateur sleuth with an unusual day job debuts in this lively, romantic mystery....An off-beat, vital first outing."

Romantic Times Magazine, March 1999
"Circles of Confusion is tremendous fun. It's the most adventurous, humorous and romantic novel since Dame Agatha gave us The Man in the Brown Suit. You'll be spellbound by Claire's adventures and will also find yourself envying her romantic interludes. The superb ending will have you shaking your head and smiling at the same time. Brava, Ms. Henry, and thank you for some highly diverting entertainment."

Phillip Margolin, author of Gone, but Not Forgotten
"Circles of Confusion is a thoroughly entertaining debut mystery. Claire Montrose is a heroine you can root for."

From The Poisoned Pen, January 1999
The title is drawn from the effects on painting of the camera obscura, a pinhole device that projects an image upside-down and backwards. The painter Vermeer liked it; this is in part his story. It opens in the Oregon [Motor Vehicle Division's] Custom Plate Department, where Claire Montrose whiles away her dead-end life at a dead-end job. Her only real diversion comes from deciphering the literal and figurative meanings of all the vanity plate plate applications that cross her desk. Claire's even beginning to think in vanity-speak. No one ever asks H20UUP2? Then a call reports the death of aged Aunt Cady, and the news that Claire has inherited Cady's complete estate. It's mostly trash, but hidden in the nest of the former WAC's WWII momentos is a little painting: lovely, unlit, warming. Claire falls in love--and nearly into the clutches of some roughnecks. Incensed, she dares book a flight from Portland to NY to show her painting to an auction house. Her naïveté is unnerving, but some guardian angel sits on her shoulder as she brushes against wily strangers, divergent appraisals, and new threats to her and the painting. MYTB$$.

The background to this little drama draws upon Nazi art thefts, and thus links to Loot by Aaron Elkins. MYSTBF8. I queried Henry about what next. She says the speech malady of Claire's will continue. Wonderful. This is a real cozy, and likely to score in the Agatha Awards/Macavity Awards. But more and beyond the clever hook, Henry shows a knack for characters, a wry view, and research smarts.

From Tucson's Clues Unlimited catalogue:
"An appealing, not-too-cute cozy with interesting art forgery lore."

From the Salem, OR Statesman Journal, January 17, 1999
"...Circles of Confusion...[demonstrates] Henry's attention to detail and her ability to infuse both the mundane and the sensational with a feeling of reality...Virtually every reader will hope that a [Claire Montrose] series is, indeed, in the offing, because Henry seems like anything but a beginner. Her writing is assured and deft, the mystery well stated, the characters just real enough to capture the reader's attention without resorting to eccentricity."


Circles of Confusion was nominated for the 1999 Agatha Award, an Anthony Award for Best First Mystery, the 1999 Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award.

Learning to Fly was nominated for the 2003 Oregon Book Award.

Shock Point was a YALSA Quick Pick, a New York Public Library's Books for the Teen Age, and a Teens Top Ten finalist.