If You Need a New Mystery Author to Read, Try Charlie Donlea

Posted January 10, 2019 by shooting in Book Review, Discussion / 27 Comments

Mystery Author to Read

If You Need a New Mystery Author, Try Charlie Donlea

Over the past year, I’ve been making my way through Charlie Donlea’s back list of titles. After reading all three books he has so far released, I can definitely call myself a fan and I cannot wait to read more from him. He writes fascinating mysteries that really do have you guessing and wondering throughout. Here are my mini reviews in the order the books were released.

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Summit Lake

mystery book, Summit Lake

Summit Lake is about the murder of Becca Eckersley, but it’s also about the investigative reporter, Kelsey Castle, who is sent to Summit Lake to figure out who would kill this promising law student. I really liked the back and forth in the timeline, because it allows readers to get to know Becca, and the various secrets that she held before her death.

In the present, Kelsey is trying to learn everything she can about Becca, but it proves difficult. As I said, Becca had various secrets and they are slowly revealed throughout the book. Some are relevant to her death, but others just paint a broader picture of this young woman who wanted to be a lawyer. I had various ideas on what I thought had happened to Becca, but I didn’t even get close! I think this was a really well done mystery that is sure to keep you reading. This is Charlie Donlea’s first novel and I actually read it first!

The Girl Who Was Taken

mystery novel, The Girl Who Was Taken

The Girl Who Was Taken is the second book by Charlie Donlea, but the third book that I read. Like Summit Lake, there are dual timelines, as well as different point of views. For the most part, it follows Livia Cutty in the present, whose younger sister, Nicole, has been missing for over a year. She feels partly guilty for Nicole being taken that night and she’s desperate to find answers. The book also gives the perspective of Megan McDonald, who also went missing the night Nicole did, but she was found two weeks later. Livia eventually partners up with Megan to find out the truth. Along with the present, readers are presented with the past, where you get to know Nicole better.

I will admit that Nicole isn’t that easy to like, but I kind of liked this. Despite the awful things that Nicole has said and done, the author still makes her a bit empathetic – even before she goes missing, because of course you want her to be found when that happens! Megan was a complicated character, putting on various faces for the people in her life, but I liked that she was figuring out who she was after her ordeal by helping Livia. Her dad doesn’t want her involved, afraid it will push her progress back, but Megan knows she needs answers, and to at least try to help Nicole.

There were surprises and twists throughout the book. Some I figured out after awhile, but I didn’t guess the big reveal until right before, so I call that a win for a mystery novel!

Don’t Believe It

Mystery novel, Don't Believe It

Finally, we have Don’t Believe It, which is the third Charlie Donlea book and the second that I read by him. True crime is everywhere these days and Don’t Believe It takes that idea by focusing on a documentary being made by Sidney Ryan, in real time. This means that each week a new episode airs, it was just put together recently, so if any big reveals occur, it’s not long before it’s being show on air. It definitely amped up the tension because while we aren’t actually watching the documentary, we’re following along and you know that big things are going to happen or come out!

The documentary is about Grace Sebold who has been in a St. Lucian prison for ten years, for murdering her boyfriend, Julian. She has always sworn her innocence though and she reaches out, over and over, to Sidney, until Sidney finally pays her a visit and pitches the idea of a miscarriage of justice to the TV station she works for. The idea isn’t necessarily to free Grace, but to prove that there is reasonable doubt and that maybe Grace is actually innocent. If she’s freed, that’s up to St. Lucia.

In the actual summary, it tells you that Sidney gets something very wrong, which is why I’m mentioning it here, and she does. Is Grace really innocent, or is she playing Sidney? Who actually killed Julian if not Grace?

Like the other novels by Donlea, the book goes back and forth in time. Readers get learn more about Grace, Julian, and their trip to St. Lucia ten years ago. In the present, it mostly follows Sidney and her quest for the truth (though there are some other point of views needed to advance the story/give the reader information). I thought this was a really well done mystery. I did guess the ultimate culprit, but it wasn’t until near the end of the book, and there was another shock that I did not expect at all. You never seem to know where you stand in a Charlie Donlea book and I love it!

Hopefully I’ve intrigued you enough to try a book by Charlie Donlea if you have not already. His fourth book, Some Choose Darkness, will be out in May, so don’t wait! I even included it in Tuesday’s Top Ten Books I’m Anticipating in 2019. These are all standalone novels so you can pick and choose which one(s) you wish to read!

27 responses to “If You Need a New Mystery Author to Read, Try Charlie Donlea

  1. I haven’t heard of this author, but you laid out a convincing case to try one of his books. I can’t resist a good mystery with plenty of twists and turns that keeps me guessing until the end

  2. These sound like really great mystery reads by a good author! I haven’t read many mysteries in recent years but I’m trying to add more mystery books to my list. I need to broaden my horizons, lol!

  3. I’m still working my way through the Louise Penny books (and have SO far to go), but these sound really intriguing too. That last one especially, the premise sounds really intriguing.

  4. Oooh, thank you Lauren!! You know I love a good mystery and these all sound incredible. I have a date at the library this week, so will add this to my must-read shelf! Hope you have a great weekend, my sweet ❤️

  5. I wasn’t entirely a fan of the Girl Who was taken, but I went back to Donlea bc of Don’t Believe It because of the true-crime angle. Ic ouldn’t resist and I’m glad I did — I thought it was much better than the Girl Who was Taken. Review is coming up soon too.

  6. I’d never heard of Charlie Donlea but each of these books sounds interesting and I think mysteries that have flashbacks to the past in them are some of the best because you feel like you are getting to know the central characters as the plot develops and the mystery unravels. Each of these books sounds really good, I especially like the sound of Don’t Believe It as I know I’ve seen a few true crime docs that sound like this and you begin to doubt everything you know when watching them but is everything in them true? I think I’ll have to check out Charlie Donlea’s books.

    Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity recently posted: Sunday Summary // 13.01.2019
  7. Lisa

    I just found him a few weeks ago and now I have read all 4 of his books. By far the best one was Some Choose Darkness. It was amazing – a real page turner and lots of twists and connections. I could not put it down!! Can hardly wait for #5 later this year.

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