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If I Tell
A Murder Mystery Thriller About a Girl and a Serial Killer
My name is Jenna.
I'm sixteen years old.
And I think my dad is a serial killer.

On a muggy summer afternoon in Upstate New York, sixteen-year-old Jenna Cooper is swimming in a lake when a murdered girl is found nearby, pulled from that very same lake. The next day, the body of another girl is discovered a couple of miles away. Soon, more bodies are found. All are girls in their teens or early twenties, and they were all killed in the same distinctive manner.

As police race to solve these horrible crimes, Jenna finds clues that make her wonder if her father might be the killer. Although she is terrified to believe her dad could be a murderer, she is determined to find out the truth, no matter what it is.

But her quest for the truth is about to land her in a makeshift prison, at the mercy of a serial killer. Will she find a way to escape or will she be the next to die?
If I Tell cover

If you like fast-paced thrillers with suspense, twists and turns, and an ending that brings everything together, you'll love this riveting murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the final pages!

Read all of J.W. Lynne's books for FREE with Kindle Unlimited.

An excerpt from If I Tell



My eyes are wide open, but I see nothing but darkness. My heart races and my breaths come fast as I try to understand what just happened. But I am trying to make sense of something incomprehensible. All I know is that this is no accident. Someone has trapped me here. They have locked me in a place where no one can hear me scream. It will be a miracle if I make it out of here alive.

I am now at the mercy of a serial killer.



"Have you ever seen a dead person?"

I am swimming in a lake near our campground when Darren, a nineteen-year-old guy from my neighborhood, comes running up and asks me that question. My older sister, Skye, is way out deep in the lake along with our good friends, Noah and John. I'm closer to the shoreline, with the boys' twelve-year-old sister Ruthie. The hot and muggy air made the cool water feel soothing until Darren's words pulled away that pleasure.

"No," I say to Darren. "Have you?"

"Yes," he says, almost triumphantly.

"He's lying," Ruthie says to me.

"I am not," Darren retorts. "If you ask nicely, I'll show you." He directs that last part to me.

I shake my head. "I don't want to see a dead person."

Ruthie narrows her eyes. "It's a trick. He's trying to make us look stupid."

She's probably right. Darren doesn't seem to know how to interact well with others. He doesn't have any friends. When he's in the mood to be around other people, which he rarely seems to be, he tends to approach Skye and me, since we live next door to him, and John and Noah, since they live just one block away. Darren is a bit older than us. John is eighteen years old, Skye is seventeen, and Noah and I are sixteen. The four of us have become Darren's targets probably because we don't tell him to go away, the way most people do. Darren's dad died when he was only seven years old, and his mom is a nice lady, so the four of us try to be decent to Darren.

"It's not a trick," Darren says, tilting his chin to the side, his longish sandy-brown hair falling into his eyes.

That's when I notice the police cars. Four of them. I don't think I've ever seen a police car in this park, even though my family and I come here for camping trips all the time. I guess the park rangers handle most of the problems that come up.

"Skye, John, Noah," I call out, then I point to the flashing red lights. "The police are here."

Skye and the boys immediately swim to shore.

"Do you know what's going on?" Noah asks. His shaggy blond hair is dripping wet, and the water drizzles down his muscled chest.

"It must be serious if they called the cops," John says. His blond buzz cut looks almost dry even though he just left the water.

Darren points toward the woods. "There's a dead body over there."

"No way," Skye says, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.

Darren's face flushes a little. He's always had a crush on Skye. A lot of guys do. She's slim, tall, and really pretty. And her long straight brown hair always looks gorgeous, even right now, when it's sopping wet.

"Come on," Darren says. "I'll show it to you."

I'm not exactly sure why we all follow Darren into the woods. I guess it's curiosity. Darren is probably joking about there being a dead person. He's probably going to laugh at us for being gullible. But I'm not gullible. I don't believe Darren. I just want to know why the police are here.

When we get close, Darren tells us to hush. We tread carefully, trying to keep our footsteps quiet. At Darren's urgings, we slink behind a large rock. Then we scramble up the back of it, so we can get a good vantage point for the lakeshore below.

There are a bunch of policemen and women milling around down there. And in the center of them all is a person lying on the ground. A woman ... or maybe she's a girl. She has long wavy black hair, like mine, and she is wearing a light-green sundress. She's lying on her side. It looks like she's either passed out or sleeping. But, if she was sleeping, wouldn't the police have awakened her? And if she was passed out, wouldn't someone be tending to her closely until an ambulance arrives?

I can't see the girl's face. But her hands are behind her back. Around her wrists is a bright-red band of some kind. We're so far away that I can't tell what it is.

"What's around her wrists?" I ask Darren.

"Duct tape," he says.

"What's duck tape?" Ruthie asks.

"Duct tape, stupid," Darren says disdainfully. "With a T at the end."

"Don't call her stupid," Skye says, punctuated with a curse word. Cursing is a habit that Skye picked up from our dad. She is careful not to use them around Mom or Dad, though. They make Mom upset. And, if Dad hears her use one, he smacks her hard enough to leave a big welt on her cheek. When it's just us, she uses them whenever she feels they are appropriate.

"What is duct tape?" Ruthie asks, emphasizing the T at the end.

"It's really strong tape," Noah says quietly, his gaze fixed on the girl.

"How do you know she's dead?" I ask Darren.

"Believe me. She's dead," he says. "I was closer before, so I could see her better. Come on. We can get a little nearer."

Skye rolls her eyes, but the five of us follow Darren off the rock and down toward the shoreline. We duck behind another large rock and peek out the other side.

What I see knocks the air from my lungs. I'd wanted Darren to be wrong. I wanted that badly enough that I'd convinced myself that he was wrong. But Darren is right. This girl is dead.

Now that we're closer, I see things I hadn't before. The color of the girl's skin is pale and a little purplish. Her eyes are open, but they are staring out straight ahead ... at nothing. And there are flies buzzing all around her. But there's something else that tells me for absolute certain that this girl is dead ...

There is red duct tape wrapped tightly over both her mouth and her nose.

No one would be able to breathe like that, although they'd surely be desperately trying.

But this girl isn't struggling to breathe.

Her body lies completely still.


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If I Tell cover

About this novel:

Genre or genres of literature:  murder mystery, suspense, psychological thriller, domestic thriller, crime fiction, family drama, coming of age, ya (young adult), clean romance
Point of view: first person
Gender of protagonist: female
Setting: New York
Page count: under 250 pages

IF I TELL is a must-read book for teenagers and adults who enjoy novels similar to best sellers like A GOOD GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER (by Holly Jackson, ONE OF US IS LYING (by Karen M. McManus), THIRTEEN REASONS WHY (by Jay Asher), ELEANOR & PARK (by Rainbow Rowell), or THE INHERITANCE GAMES (by Jennifer Lynn Barnes).
Are you doing a reading challenge or book bingo?
Here are some of the most popular 2023 prompts that fit this book:

 A book about secrets
A book about a family
A book about or set in New York (The book is set in Upstate New York and on Long Island.)
A book with a contemporary setting
A book set in the summer
A book that has a prologue
A book written in first-person present tense
A book written from the point of view of a character under age 18 (She is 16 years old.)
Main protagonist’s name starts with J (Her name is Jenna.)
Book title starting with the letter I
A book with a three syllable title
A book with a three word title
A book with a female author
A standalone novel

J.W. Lynne is a best selling author of twelve novels.
Check out her books on Amazon!

THE UNKNOWN: Eight kids learn the shocking reason why they were kidnapped.

ABOVE THE SKY: In a society ruled by Decision Makers, one girl makes a dangerous choice.

: A dream-come-true competition turns deadly.

IF I TELL: A teen begins to wonder if her father is a serial killer.

KID DOCS: An experimental program teaches kids to be doctors.

WILD ANIMAL SCHOOL: A teen girl falls in love while working at an exotic animal ranch.

LOST IN LOS ANGELES: A traumatized girl travels to Los Angeles and meets a mysterious boy.

LOST IN TOKYO: A girl travels to Japan in search of her missing mother.

Besides reading books and dreaming up stories to write, Jen's favorite activities are singing along to musical theater soundtracks and hiking in California's beautiful parks.

**Jen's books are now available on Kindle Unlimited.**