Don’t Believe It

Don’t Believe ItDon't Believe It by Charlie Donlea
Published by Kensington on May 29th 2018
Pages: 304
ISBN: 149671380X
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four-stars

Don’t believe it, but Donlea pulled the wool over my eyes yet again!

Grace Sebold has been incarcerated for ten years in a St. Lucian prison for the murder of her boyfriend, Julian. Julian was murdered while the couple were on the island for the wedding of Grace’s friends. They appeared to be the perfect couple. They were happy, in love and going to attend the same medical school. They had a whole future ahead of them until that fateful night when Julian was killed. Grace has maintained her innocence from the very beginning. She has never wavered in this and has written documentary filmmaker Sidney Ryan numerous times asking for help. Sidney Ryan has a passion for justice and has aided in getting those who are falsely imprisoned exonerated.

Finally, Sidney is willing to hear Grace’s story. Intrigued, Sidney wonders if Grace is truly innocent and the victim of a rushed investigation and/or faulty police work or is she in fact guilty. Sidney knows there is a story here and after pitching it to her network, she begins filming “The Girl of Sugar Beach.” The documentary keeps gaining viewers with each installment and becomes a rating hit. The audience tunes in each week as Sidney reports on old and new evidence. An American tried and convicted in another country is an intriguing subject and has everyone wanting to know – Did she do it?

Donlea works his magic and continues to keep readers guessing. He is a master at throwing out false leads, possible suspects and had me thinking, re-thinking and questioning my suspect list. There are quite a few twists and turns in this book which moves the story along quite nicely. I personally felt the office/network scenes slowed the book down a little and didn’t add much to the story. During those sections, I wanted to get back to the documentary investigation and get there NOW! The documentary sections of this book were strong and enjoyable.

I was happy with the forensic work in this book. Almost as happy as I was with the multilayered and well thought out plot. Donlea is very clever at leading the reader down the wrong path. What you think you know to be true- may not be true and vice versa. Half the fun of reading this book is trying to figure out whodunit. Was Grace the killer? Was there another killer? Why was Julian Killed? I had so many questions while reading this book. Many of my questions were answered but I was left with one remaining question: will there be a sequel?

After recently reading two books by Donlea, I am hooked. He writes intelligent and carefully crafted novels that have me glued to my seat fully absorbed in the story. Riveting storytelling that doesn’t disappoint.

four-stars

Summit Lake

Summit LakeSummit Lake by Charlie Donlea
Published by Kensington on January 26th 2016
Pages: 320
ISBN: 1496700988
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four-stars

Summit Lake beings with the brutal rape and murder of first year law student, Becca Eckersley. Becca was staying at her parent’s home in Summit Lake while studying for her final exams. She diligently followed her parent’s rules of keeping the doors locked and the security system on, until that fateful night when someone she knew knocked on the door. She turned off the alarm and opened the door not knowing the danger she was letting inside the home. Now the town of Summit Lake is reeling. As the town is coping with their first ever murder, the state police and journalists have arrived to investigate and cover the case.

Kelsey Castle is a well-known investigator reporter who has been assigned to cover Becca’s murder. As Kelsey begins to interview both the residents of Summit Lake and local authorities, it becomes clear that Becca had secrets. As Kelsey gets help from a local doctor and cafe worker, she learns more about Becca’s life, her academics, her love life and her friendships.

As always, I put my super sleuth hat on while reading books in this genre. I had a working theory as to who attacked Becca – which was WRONG! What worked for me was the alternating story-lines detailing both Becca’s life prior to her murder and Kelsey’s investigation after Becca’s murder. The Author did a great job showing us Becca’s life prior to her murder. The reader gets to see her interacting with her college friends and the relationships she forged with them. The reader also gets to see Kelsey investigate Becca’s murder and the reader knows that Kelsey recently came back to work after some time off work. Investigating Becca’s murder gets her back to work and away from her co-worker’s eyes and sympathetic comments concerning her absence from work. Plus, Kelsey becomes instantly intrigued as she speaks with locals and begins to get a picture of what happened that terrible night.

There is a KILLER of a TWIST in this book which leads to a HUGE “Holy Crap!” moment. The Author pulled that one out of his hat. He also pulled off the perfect pacing and unraveling of clues. This book never lagged for me. It never felt slow or dragged out. I felt as if everything occurred naturally and the ending did not feel rushed. Through Kelsey’s investigation and Becca’s pre-murder chapters, the reader is made aware of things/events/relationships in Becca’s life which led her to be at the lake house that fateful night. It also provides Kelsey with more possible suspects and people to speak with concerning Becca and her life.

There are some unanswered questions with this book. I won’t point them out, so I don’t give any spoilers. However, I would have liked to have had everything explained and summed up. Plus, the people in this town seemed a little too happy to assist Kelsey with her investigation. I get that she is a known reporter and people might be more willing to speak with her but several people, with careers and reputations to lose, seemed to throw caution to the wind and violated all kinds of privacy laws to help Kelsey with her investigation.

There is one scene I want to say more about, but I won’t. Okay, I will but to say it didn’t sit right with me and I should have paid more attention to that thought…how’s that for vague…I wish I would have thought about that more.

Be warned – the opening scene is quite brutal. It may be a trigger for some.

Overall, a very enjoyable read that had me turning the pages to see if my theory was correct (it wasn’t), to learn the identity of the killer (I did). I was fully invested in learning the identity of the killer and was captivated by the plot. Again, this book may have some triggers for some including rape and murder.

four-stars