And Then There Were Four

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Published by: Originally published by Dial Books/Penguin Random House, current edition by Nancy Werlin.
Release Date: 2017
Pages: 416
ISBN13: 978-0803740723

  

Synopsis

Massachusetts Book Award Honor Winner for 2017

“Let’s not die today. Not even to make things easier for our parents.”

Five very different students at a private high school are brought together under mysterious circumstances, and just barely escape alive from a building collapse. Soon one of them has died in a second freak accident. Little by little the remaining teens piece together a shocking but plausible theory: Their parents are working together to kill them all.

Is it true? If so, why? And most important, can they figure out a way to save themselves? As the urgency builds, this unlikely group will gradually bond—some in love, all in friendship—while struggling to stay safe against all odds.

Cover art by Rowan MacColl. 


Backstory

And Then There Were Four is about five teenagers (Caleb, Evangeline, Saralinda, Antoine, and Kenyon) who learn that their parents are conspiring to kill them.

But few stories come from a single idea, or a single inspirational source. Read the backstory.

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Praise

A Massachusetts Book Award Honor winner for 2017

An Amazon.com pick for one of the Best Young Adult Books of the Year (so far) and the Month (June)

A Junior Library Guild selection

“An unpredictable adventure through New York, leading to an emotional climax.”USA Today

“The trap is sprung. The hunt is on. Don’t expect to sleep tonight. A stunning thriller told by two unforgettable voices.”
—Julie Berry, Printz Honor-winning author of The Passion of Dolssa

“A plot that left me breathless and strong, memorable characters. Not many writers can do both: Nancy Werlin makes it look effortless. I could not put this book down.”
—Linda Sue Park, New York Times bestselling author of A Long Walk to Water

"Tense, vivid, lively, and heart-twisting--I could not catch my breath.  What a very great pleasure this was to read."
—Tamora Pierce, New York Times bestselling author of The Song of the Lioness

"The characters are all interesting and complex, and the relationships that they form are realistically difficult, but made strong by common trauma. I don't want to say more here, because this is a book you should experience knowing as little about it as possible. Just trust  me. ... I'm glad that I was able to read it over a 24 hour period, in two sittings, and suggest that other readers try to do the same. Highly recommended, and an excellent YA thriller for summer reading!" -Jen Robinson's Book Page

"It’s the nonstop action that sweeps readers along. People are on the run, bodies are piling up, and murder is in the air. Up until the last moment, it’s not clear who is going to make it out alive. Over the top, definitely, but also a compulsive read." -Ilene Cooper, Booklist

"The teens and parents are psychologically complex; indeed, the entire cast is also notable for its diversity (in terms of ethnicity, sexuality, ability) in ways both organic and incidental to the plot. And it that plot occasionally strains credulity, it taps into a deep-seated teen paranoia that adults are not to get them." -Jonathan Hunt, Horn Book

"Drawing heavily on Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None and glossy dramas like Pretty Little Liars, Werlin bands her teens around tragedy.... Werlin creates palpable suspense as she alternates between Saralinda and Caleb’s points of view." -Publishers Weekly

“A gripping page turner with a lot of twists and turns. Those fans of YA mystery looking for something different to read? Werlin’s latest definitely stands out.” RT Book Reviews

"Fans of nonstop action will appreciate the breakneck pace." -Kirkus

"Fast-paced suspense - recommended." -School Library Connection

“it's a fast-paced, entertaining game of cat-and-mouse with a refreshingly diverse cast and enough mystery to keep you guessing.”—Sarcasm and Lemons


Excerpt

[After the building roof collapses ….]

“Kenyon?” If this were a romance novel it would be Antoine who saved me but it is Kenyon and ha! guess what, in real life that is utterly fine as far as I am concerned.

“Yeah,” she whispers. “It’s me. Don’t move. Please don’t ask me to move either. From what I can tell, we’re buried under a mountain of stuff. There’s an air hole, and I can see, but—I don’t know—everything on my back feels unstable. I don’t think we should even talk loudly. It might, uh, avalanche.”

My chicken salad lunch shoots from my stomach toward my throat but I shut my mouth in time and swallow it back along with stomach acid which we are old friends when I am anxious. I breathe. Okay I am okay.

As reported before, I am lying on my back. I now see that Kenyon is on top of me with her stomach to mine, and she is also sort of propped up on her forearms like a sphinx, which is what is giving me room to breathe.

The wind howls. It is no longer outside, it is inside, it is with us, it is on us.

I whisper to Kenyon, “You saved me.”

“Yeah, don’t give me too much credit. I don’t know what I did. It’s kind of a blur.”

I squint to see what I can. Soaked ceiling material, I deduce. And gravel. All piled around us.

We are buried.

“So there’s a pile of debris on your back,” I say. “The same stuff that’s all around us.”

“Yeah.” Kenyon pauses. “It’s pretty heavy.”

“You said there’s an air hole. Can you see anything out of it?”

“It’s only a small hole to the left of my face. I see rain.”

“Okay, do you hear anybody? The—the others?”

“No.”

My throat closes up for a second. Antoine. Evangeline. And Caleb Colchester. Hurt bleeding broken? Buried like us? Unconscious? Dead or dying?

Except wait. Caleb wasn’t under the main roof. He was in the turret, which has its own roof, pointed and independent. Less likely to crash? Maybe so. Which means he could probably help, except—

Except he is Caleb Colchester Jr.

There are school stories about him.

I say, “Kenyon, listen. We can’t wait for help because it might not come. We have to get ourselves out of this.”

Kenyon’s voice is dry. “Oh really? How? We can’t move or we’ll be buried. I’m the one with the crap on my back here, girlfriend. We need help from outside. Somebody’s got to come eventually, right? Like, 911 people. We need to hold out. I need to hold out.”

I hear something in her tone, at the end there. I say what I should have said at the start but I did not think of it then, because to be honest self-absorbed.

“Are you all right? Does anything hurt? What?”

Kenyon pauses for a fraction of a second too long. “I can hold on until help comes.”

I have another bad moment but panic will do us no good, so I push it away. At which point I have an actual idea. “Do you have your phone on you?” Mine unfortunately is in the pocket of my backpack. (I don’t always answer my mother which is easier when you accidentally leave your phone in things.)

“Yes! Yes, I do. My left back pocket.” She hesitates, shifting slightly. “There’s no way I can reach it.”

Because her arms and hands are occupied in holding her sphinx position and incidentally that is what is also keeping me sheltered and safe.

“Maybe I can,” I say.

“Try. But move very carefully?”

“Oh yes. I am not interested in an avalanche ruining our air hole,” I say.

I edge one hand up alongside our bodies where her hips press into mine, trying to get to her rear pocket (and by the way there is nothing sexy-times about this believe me for either one of us). But the debris is so packed around us that it’s like trying to force my hand slowly through a wall.

I try I try I try, sort of gently yet firmly.

“I’m sorry. I can’t do it.”

Kenyon exhales. “It’s all right. Help will come.”

If I were bigger. If I were stronger. “You were right,” I offer. “This place should have been condemned.”

She sounds resigned. “I’m right a lot. Guess what, it’s always bad news. My whole life is bad news.”

I choke back a hysterical laugh. “Mine too, pretty much.”

“Really? What’s your story?”

“You don’t want to know.”

“Tell me,” she says. “What else do we have to do but talk?”

The thing is, I am not quite sure why I said what I said. I don’t feel like my whole life is bad news. There’s a lot of good in it. It’s hard sometimes physically but the foot operations did work and I don’t walk lopsided even and I don’t know how to express this but getting used to pain can teach you things, which is not saying pain is good or worth it but something else happens. I told you I can’t express it but I’m not sorry to be who I am—something like that. I have become tough in a peculiar way that doesn’t show. And then many people have diabetes and it is not strange or odd, people get it. Basically, I am alive and there is my mother who did agree to let me go to school and live more normally, and I absolutely believe in counting your blessings.

Maybe I said my life was bad news to distract Kenyon, to be more one with her? Because she is in pain. You cannot be pressed up close against someone like we are and not feel what they feel, trust me.

But now I am stuck with having said it.

I say, “So I was a preemie and sort of sickly for a long time. Also, I was born with a birth defect called club foot.”

“Is that why you have a cane?”

“Yes. I had operations to reposition my foot properly. It’s still smaller than my other one which gets expensive for shoes. One foot is size five and the other one is six and a half. But it basically worked. The operation, I mean. I don’t need Georg—my cane—very much anymore. I mean, sometimes I do.” I trail off because I have messed up. “Okay so I call my cane Georgia,” I add lamely (oh no, terrible pun unintended).

“Georgia is a pretty name,” Kenyon says gently, like I am four, and I think of punching her in the stomach for condescension (except maybe that should wait until after we’re rescued and she is okay again, and also mentioning Georgia’s name did make me sound pathetic probably) when she adds, “Saralinda is pretty too. I’ve never heard that name before.”

“It’s from an old book called The Thirteen Clocks that my mother loves.”

I do not say the rest which is that I used to love it too until I realized that Princess Saralinda is one of those princesses who is beautiful but has very little character and also she is under a curse that stops her from speaking her mind (which troubles me though I understand the curse on Princess Saralinda is necessary for the plot). I like my name in any case and there are still things I like about the book but I can’t love it anymore is my point.

However I’m reminded of Princess Saralinda every time I don’t tell my mother what I think.