girl in wilderness

Read an Excerpt from What Doesn’t Kill Her by Christina Dodd

“What’s your new book about?”

An author can write 100,000 words, create an insightful tale of terror, humor, adventure, romance, and mystery, yet when someone—in this case, a writer-friend—asks, “What’s your new book about?” all the insightful words dry up. All that’s left is babble.

I told my friend What Doesn’t Kill Her is a thriller. And it’s a comedy. It’s about survival against all odds. And it’s about learning to be a parent. She started to make that humming sound that meant she intended to say something pithy.

Okay, she was snoring.

In desperation, I told her What Doesn’t Kill Her is a mash-up between the National Lampoon’s Vacation movies and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. That got her attention.

Anyone who’s been a parent or taken care of a child will tell you—no matter how dangerous or difficult the circumstances, seven-year-olds can’t be quiet, they can’t sit still, and they still always gotta go potty.

Say you’re Kellen Adams. You’ve been abused. You’ve been homeless. But you’ve put all that behind you and become a strong, skilled, and confident woman. One problem: you suffer from a yearlong gap in your memory. A bullet to the brain will cause that.

But you’re discovering the truth, and what you learn changes everything you think you know about yourself. Because guess what? During that lost year, you gave birth to a baby. A baby who is now a charming, happy, loquacious seven-year-old girl.

Nothing you’ve done in your life has prepared you to be a mother. Strong? Skilled? Confident? Sure, when you’re facing a fight. But what do you do with a seven-year-old kid who talks all the time? And what do you do with her father, a man you once loved and who didn’t forget a thing?

You go away to get your head together, to grapple with this new turn of events. You take a security job. You’re double-crossed. You find yourself in the wilderness, on the run, unprepared, your enemies unknown.

Then, oh God, you discover your new seven-year-old daughter has tagged along to bond.

What are you going to do?

The consequences of failure would break you. And Kellen Adams does not break.

What doesn’t kill her…had better start running.


Read below for an excerpt from What Doesn’t Kill Her

            “Mommy, who’s that man with the gun?” Rae asked from across the forest clearing.

Arms outstretched, pistol ready to shoot, Kellen turned.

Her seven-year-old daughter had returned from the stream; from the looks of her, she’d fallen in.

The man pointing the pistol at Kellen’s back swung toward Rae.

Kellen shot.

The distance was forty feet. She tried for his chest; the bullet struck his shoulder. It should have blasted his arm away. Instead it blew his weapon out of his suddenly limp hand and knocked him down. He screamed the way guys do when they’re wearing body armor, but the impact breaks the joint underneath.

Kellen ran toward him writhing on the ground, picked up his weapon, and pointed her pistol in his face. “How many more men?” she asked.

“Twenty!” His dark eyes were furious. “They’re all around you.”

“Liar,” she said, and used her foot to shove him on his face.

That made him scream, too. Shoulders are so delicate. She used a zip tie to bind his hands behind his back.

Rae watched, eyes wide with horror.

In a voice she kept steady and understated, Kellen asked, “Honey, are your feet wet?”

Rae stomped her boots up and down, and even from this distance, Kellen could hear sloshing. “Yes, Mommy.”

“Then I’ll carry you on my back.” Kellen walked toward her, projecting so much calm she was positively Zen. “We need to get away from here, and fast.” Kellen squatted down in front of Rae. “Let’s go.”

Rae hesitated.

Kellen waited, tense with fear. Had the violence scared her child so much she didn’t want to touch Kellen?

Rae hoisted herself up, and Kellen started running. The shot would bring more searchers. Once the other men talked to the guys on the ground and discovered Kellen was on the move with a child, that child became a weapon in their hands. Kellen didn’t know how long she could hold out, running full tilt with a duffel bag and a forty-five pound child. Yet she had to save Rae.

“Mommy?” Rae’s voice quavered pathetically.

Kellen wanted to moan. Rae was going to ask about Kellen’s ruthless treatment of those men. “Rae?”

“I gotta go potty.”


I hope you enjoy What Doesn’t Kill Her. Because who wouldn’t love a National Lampoon’s Vacation/The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo mash-up?


author photo_Christina Dodd

New York Times bestselling author Christina Dodd writes “edge-of-the-seat suspense” (Iris Johansen) with “brilliantly etched characters, polished writing, and unexpected flashes of sharp humor that are pure Dodd” (Booklist). Much to her mother’s delight, Dodd was once a clue in the Los Angeles Times crossword puzzle. Enter Christina’s worlds, get an unadorned Downloadable Book List sorted by genre, series and in order, and join her mailing list for humor, book sales, and entertainment (yes, she’s the proud author with the infamous three-armed cover) at

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