ABOUT THE BOOK:
From acclaimed author Charlie Donlea comes a twisting, impossible-to-put-down novel of suspense in which a filmmaker helps clear a woman convicted of murder—only to find she may be a pawn in a sinister game.The Girl of Sugar Beach is the most watched documentary in television history—a riveting, true-life mystery that unfolds over twelve weeks and centers on a fascinating question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian, while on a Spring Break vacation, or is she a victim of circumstance and poor police work? Grace has spent the last ten years in a St. Lucian prison, and reaches out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a last, desperate attempt to prove her innocence.
As Sidney begins researching, she uncovers startling evidence, additional suspects, and timeline issues that were all overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. But as the show surges towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying that she got it badly, terribly wrong.
Sidney has just convinced the world that Grace is innocent. Now she wonders if she has helped to free a ruthless killer. Delving into Grace’s past, she peels away layer after layer of deception. But as Sidney edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life.
Don't Believe It by Charlie Donlea
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Don’t Believe it by Charlie Donlea is a 2018 Kensington publication.
The perfect place for a spring break excursion, weddings, or marriage proposals. Grace is positive her boyfriend, Julian, is about to pop the question, but their vacation quickly turns into a nightmare. Tragedy strikes before Julian has a chance to propose, and his death is ruled a homicide. Grace is swiftly arrested and convicted of his murder. The case was an open and shut slam dunk. But, in her letters to Sidney Ryan, Grace swears she is innocent.
True Crime, ‘wrongfully convicted’, documentaries are all the craze. Capitalizing on this, Sidney Ryan, a freelance filmmaker, thinks the 'Sugar Beach' case will make a compelling story. Despite some doubts, the network gives her the green light. But, when Sidney arrives in St. Lucia, she uncovers evidence that Grace had never mentioned- evidence that points to her guilt- not her innocence. But, Sydney also sees the dubious way the investigation was handled. Was Grace guilty or innocent? Will Sydney’s documentary raise more questions than it answers? The ratings are through the roof, but has justice finally be done?
This brisk, and timely thriller, cleverly takes advantage of the current true crime documentary trend. Only in this case, there are a few hidden dangers our documentary filmmaker never counted on. Not only that, the secondary characters are all intertwined with Grace in surprising ways, exposing motives and resentments that never came out at the trial. But, niggling doubts linger about Grace’s innocence, while Sydney grapples with the magnitude of the documentary’s success against the personal risks she must take to find the truth.
The atmosphere is authentic and tense, nailing the true crime formula of these mega popular documentaries and crime shows with a realistic look at what goes on behind closed doors at the network studios. It also has the feel of a cold case, which is one of my very favorite mystery tropes. There are plenty of jaw dropping revelations, and a huge last minute twist, that left me breathless. I do hope this author writes fast, and is right this minute working on a follow up to this book!!
I’ve heard some great things about this author, but this is my first impression of his work. Needless, to say, it will not be the last. I will be looking up his other books, and impatiently awaiting his next release.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Charlie Donlea is the USA TODAY bestselling author of SUMMIT LAKE, THE GIRL WHO WAS TAKEN and DON'T BELIEVE IT. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two young children, where he is busy writing his next novel.