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  • Writer's pictureJudith D Collins

Long Time Gone

Narrator: Vivienne Leheny

Recorded Books

ISBN: 9781496727183

Publisher: Kensington Books

Publication Date: 05/21/2024

Format: Other

My Rating: 5 Stars (ARC)

When DNA results reveal a disturbing connection to the mysterious disappearance of a famous baby nearly three decades ago, a forensic scientist's increasingly perilous search for answers draws her to an unsettling small Nevada town in this engrossing, propulsive new novel from the internationally bestselling author of Twenty Years Later.

For fans of Alice Feeney, Karin Slaughter, Riley Sager, and Megan Goldin.

Thirty years ago, Baby Charlotte vanished. Today, she’s still in danger.

When Dr. Sloan Hastings submits her DNA to an online genealogy site for a research assignment, her goal is to better understand the treasure-trove of genetic information contained on ancestry websites. Brilliant and driven, Sloan is embarking on a fellowship in forensic pathology, training under the renowned Dr. Livia Cutty.

Sloan has one reservation about involving herself in the experiment: she’s adopted. Grateful for a loving home, she’s never considered tracking down her biological parents. The results of her search are shocking. Sloan’s DNA profile suggests her true identity is that of Charlotte Margolis, aka “Baby Charlotte”, who captured the nation’s attention when she mysteriously disappeared, along with her parents, in July 1995. Despite an exhaustive search, the family was never seen again, and no suspects were named in the case.

Sloan’s discovery leads her to the small town of Cedar Creek, Nevada, the site of her disappearance. It also leads her to Sheriff Eric Stamos. The Margolis family’s influence and power permeate every corner of Harrison County, and Eric is convinced that in learning the truth about her past, Sloan can also help discover what happened to Eric’s father, who died under suspicious circumstances soon after he started investigating the case of her disappearance.

Slowly, over the course of a stifling summer, Sloan begins getting to know her relatives. Though initially welcoming, the Margolis family is also mysterious and tight-lipped. Not everyone seems happy about Sloan’s return, or the questions she’s asking. And the more she and Eric learn, the more apparent it becomes that the answers they both seek are buried in a graveyard of Margolis family secrets that some will do anything to keep hidden—no matter who else has to die…

My Review

The internationally bestselling author, Charlie Donlea returns with his latest fascinating, complex thriller, LONG TIME GONE. DNA results reveal a connection to a mysterious baby's disappearance over thirty years ago, as the past and present collide— when a web of corruption, power, and lies are uncovered in this riveting new novel.

Thirty years ago, Baby Charlotte vanished.

Today, she's still in danger.

Bonus Highlight...

~The author brings back a favorite character from previous books, renowned Chief Medical Officer Dr. Livia Cutty from Raleigh, NC!


~Forensic Genealogy


~Cold Case


~Raleigh, NC 2024

Sloan Hastings is beginning a two-year fellowship in forensic pathology under the renowned Dr. Livia Cutty. Her assignment is to look into the emerging field of forensic genealogy, and the first step is to submit her DNA to an online genealogy site.

Sloan has always known she was adopted and had a loving home and was never concerned about tracking down her biological parents. However, shockingly, she receives the results her DNA is apparently tied to a cold case.

Sloan was Charlotte Margolis, the famous Baby Charlotte who mysteriously vanished in July 1995 with affluent parents Preston and Annabelle Margolis!

She, along with her adoptive parents, contacted the authorities, which led them to the small town of Cedar Creek, Nevada, to the site of her disappearance. The Sheriff, Eric Stamos, is another mystery. Eric's father died under suspicious circumstances soon after he started investigating the case with the Margolis family.

Sloan uncovers some of her relatives and not everyone is happy about this discovery. There are hidden secrets, and Sloan and Eric are determined to uncover them. But some want to keep the secrets of the past buried. Sloan does find an ally in one of Charlotte's aunts, Nora, who married into the family and Eric. However, the cops, medical examiners, and prosecutors have a lot of power and control in Harrison County.

~The Past: 1995 Cedar Creek, Nevada to

~Bend, Oregon (past and present)

The author takes us from Cedar Creek, Nevada, in 2024 to 1995, when it all began with alternating dual timelines. Here, we learn more about the early investigation and more about the Margolis family when Charlotte and her parents went missing. The paths that lead Sloan and Eric to Margolis Manor back to Oregon to the vineyards for a showdown and the mysterious photos and human bones with the FBI's forensic anthropologist.

~The Present

We also have Ryder Hillier, the crime podcaster. The mystery fueled the true crime community and produced dozens of conspiracy theories. Who took the photos, and what were the motives?

In the satisfying wrap-up, we get Dr. Sloan Hastings' dissertation on how forensic genealogy allowed her to solve a thirty-year-old cold case—and the disappearance of her birth parents, Preston and Annabell Margolis. She would have no problem finding a spot on a homicide task force, or should she think bigger?

My thoughts...

Charlie Donlea hit LONG TIME GONE out of the park! I am fascinated by DNA and forensic genealogy! This book is reminiscent of Charlie's earlier books I enjoyed and loved catching up with Dr. Livia Cutty from NC! He is back in rare form. More of these, please!

The two timelines, past and present, will keep you turning the pages into the wee hours of the morning, with the twisty plot while you try and solve this gripping mystery of Charlotte and her biological parents as well as the Sherriff's dad. Engrossing! I loved how the past and present storylines came together. Sloan is a fascinating character, and I hope we see her in future books.

The author shines with his attention to detail and is a pro at forensics topics, and this is one of his best! I also enjoyed the metaphors and the hawk as they related to Sloan's path as she soared to new heights and self-discovery.

Donlea fans will devour LONG TIME GONE, which is one of my favorites since his SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS. An avid fan of the author, I have read all his books and highly recommend his latest!


For Donlea fans and authors Lisa Gardner, Lisa Unger, and Megan Goldin.

Thanks to Kensington and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy for an honest opinion.

@JudithDCollins | #JDCMustReadBooks

Pub Date: May 21, 2024

My Rating: 5 Stars




“Zigzagging mercilessly between past and present, Donlea keeps up the tension…in a superior thriller.” — Kirkus, STARRED REVIEW

About the Author

Charlie Donlea is the critically acclaimed, USA Today, Indiebound and #1 internationally bestselling author of propulsive, female-driven thrillers including The Girl Who Was Taken, Some Choose Darkness, Twenty Years Later and Those Empty Eyes. Published in nearly 30 countries and translated into more than a dozen languages, Donlea has been praised for his "soaring pace, teasing plot twists" (BookPage) and talent for writing an ending that "makes your jaw drop" (The New York Times Book Review). He was born and raised in Chicago, where he continues to live with his wife and two children. Visit him online at

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Charlie Donlea &

Some Choose Darkness!







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