By: Charlie Donlea
Publication Date: 5/29/2018
My Rating: 5 Stars +
Top Books of 2018
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.
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From acclaimed bestselling international 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 puppet in a sinister game.
Plus, what could be more exciting than the lush, exotic Caribbean setting (St. Lucia) and the famous Gros Piton and Petit Pitons? A murder mystery with tons and tons of twists! (what an ending).
True life real crime genre is all the rave, especially in film and TV. (hint, DON’T BELIEVE IT is prime for the small or big screen). From Making a Murderer, Serial, The Thin Blue Line, OJ, and others. True crime documentary. Who doesn’t stream a good crime documentary? From Netflix to Amazon Prime, we all have our favorites. From murder, death, justice, truth, lies. Behind the scenes.
A fan of Charlie Donlea's from his sensational debut –Summit Lake Top Books of 2016 and his strong follow-up, The Girl Who Was Taken —With his third novel, DON'T BELIEVE IT — he knocks it out of the park! Plus a return from one of his favorite characters from TGWWT, forensic expert Dr. Livia Cutty.
As Charlie references in his recent Q&A when asked about his inspiration for his books and DBI:
“A common thread among all three stories is the public’s unquenchable thirst for the morbid details of disturbing stories.” Read More
How true. Everyone wants details. What are the hidden motives? What occurred that one day to cause someone to murder someone and get away with it, or not?
The ten-part true-crime serial centers on a crucial question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian Crist (a young medical student), while on Spring Break vacation at the famed Sugar Beach Resort (Jalousie Plantation) in St. Lucia, or is she the victim of a shocking injustice?
Initially believing it had to be an accidental fall from one of the St. Lucia’s legendary Twin Pitons, detectives quickly began to suspect foul play. Crist’s fellow medical student and girlfriend, Grace Sebold was taken into St. Lucian custody and charged with Julian’s murder. When found guilty for on the count of first-degree murder she would be held at the Bordelais Correctional Facility to await sentencing.
Ten years later there is the successful thirty-six-year-old, Sidney Ryan, a documentary filmmaker who has followed Grace’s case. Can Sidney help prove Grace’s innocence? Sidney needed proof the case was mishandled. Evidence that the St. Lucian government had pinned a crime on Grace that she did not commit. Had it cost an innocent woman her freedom?
As Sidney becomes convinced of Grace’s innocence, fans of her show, The Girl of Sugar Beach, pressure authorities to exonerate Grace. America knew her as the girl stuck in a foreign land, accused of a murder she claimed not to commit. Grace had fallen under the eye of the Innocence Project, a watchdog group that worked to overturn convictions of those they feel were wrongfully accused and unfairly sentenced. But their efforts had failed.
Can Sidney figure out the real killer, or does she get caught in the crossfires?
Besides, wait until you meet the other intriguing characters: Grace’s brother Marshall, Dr Livia Cutty, Ellie (Grace’s friend), and retired detective Gus Morelli (which I loved).
Edgy and twisty, Donlea keeps you glued to the pages, unexpected twists, keeping you guessing while building suspense and revealing long-buried secrets. Best of all, he does not leave you hanging. A satisfying conclusion. Cleverly crafted, fast-paced, gripping and addictive. Move Don’t Believe It to the top of your reading list. (a perfect title).
If your dad is a true crime junkie, and happens to be a fan of Making a Murderer and podcasts like Serial, this riveting suspense thriller will be assured to please the mystery-loving dad (and mom). Of course, dad may not be able to pry himself away from the novel long enough to enjoy Father’s Day brunch with the family. A perfect gift for dad, arriving just in time for Dad’s special day.
Don’t forget to add this one to your beach bag.
PS Just wait until you read his upcoming May 28, 2019 thriller: SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS (available for pre-order now)!
Read the Inspiration Behind the Book and a personal photo gallery from Charlie!
Coming 3/26/19 Mass Paperback
Book Giveaway Contest
(1 of 3) Signed Paperback
Mar 11-25, 2019
"[Y] ou can’t blame Charlie Donlea if the ending of his novel makes your jaw drop. The title alone — DON’T BELIEVE IT — is fair warning that his characters are no more to be trusted than are our initial impressions of them."
—The New York Times Book Review
“Donlea’s framing of the story as documentary research proves an effective device, and his work reads like the best nonfiction: clear, crisp, and fast-moving.”
"[N]ew York producer Sidney Ryan, the heroine of this riveting…novel from Donlea, is producing a documentary TV series. Donlea splices Sidney’s investigation with excerpted scenes from the documentary and jury room, creating a fast-paced narration. A risky late plot twist will frustrate some readers while thrilling others."
“[A] timely thriller that builds into a shocking conclusion. Don’t Believe It is sure to appeal to fans of true crime docu-dramas, along with readers of Mary Kubica or Shari Lapena.”
"5 of May's Best New Reads."
“A perfectly executed and entirely satisfying read, Don’t Believe It is a gripping thriller that will blow readers away, from the first page right up to the very last words. Charlie Donlea’s best book yet!”
—Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of The Good Girl and Every Last Lie
"[The protagonist] is persistent and courageous, but the story takes a dark, treacherous turn, not revealing its truths until the last page.”
About the Author
Charlie Donlea is the USA Today and International bestselling author of Summit Lake, The Girl Who Was Taken and Don't Believe It. His fourth novel, Some Choose Darkness to be released May 28, 2019. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages across fifteen countries. He resides in Chicago with his wife and two young children. Read More