MINM Review: Don't Believe It by Charlie Donlea

Just in time for those "lazy, hazy days" ahead, comes new-to-Mystery-in-Minutes author Charlie Donlea's Don't Believe It, a crime novel set partly on a Caribbean island, making it a terrific choice for pool-side, beach-side, summer reading!

Don't Believe It is filled with much of what readers enjoy in their mysteries and crime fiction. There is police procedural work, forensics, legal and courtroom drama, twists in the tale, red herrings aplenty, and a hard-boiled, retired detective and private eye who ultimately collaborates with the book's central character, an investigative reporter producing a true-crime documentary in "real time". This documentary not only keeps the fictional audience tuning in, but keeps the reader glued to the pages, as the revelations of the fictional documentary propel the plot forward. Imagine "I'll Be Gone in the Dark" in episodic, documentary form, with the audience privy to the weekly, dramatic discoveries that lead law enforcement to find that "needle in a haystack", the Golden State Killer. The final 20-25 percent of Don't Believe It is pretty darn unputdownable!

Many popular true crime books, TV shows, and podcasts retrace the investigative steps taken to bring an end to terror-inducing crimes, and to bring the perpetrators to justice. They often tap into the public fascination with what makes a serial offender tick, and the more of a disparity between the otherwise peaceful scene of the crime, and the horror of the crime itself, the more riveting, it would seem. The protagonist of Don't Believe It puts a slight twist on this formula. Sidney Ryan specializes in examining possible miscarriages of justice, filming evidence of potential wrongful conviction, and letting the court of public opinion weigh in on a subject's guilt or innocence.

There are a number of important and relevant themes to chew on in Don't Believe It, and the reader will have the best crime fiction experience knowing as little as possible beforehand about plot specifics. Fans of bestselling author Lisa Gardner are sure to enjoy Charlie Donlea's thought-provoking and entertaining latest offering, Don't Believe It!

Don't Believe It by Charlie Donlea book cover image.jpg

Best for Crime Fiction Readers:

  • Who are also fans of true crime books, TV shows, and podcasts.
  • Who enjoy police procedurals that include investigative work, forensics, person of interest interviews, etc.
  • Who enjoy legal and courtroom drama.
  • Who like to read about amateur sleuths, in this instance, an investigative journalist.
  • Who like to read about private eyes. Retired detective Gustavo (Gus) Morelli is an engaging character that I could read about again.
  • Who appreciate mysteries and crime fiction with relatively short chapters that keep the action flowing.
  • Who enjoy reading about tropical locales.

Pages: 304 (Hardcover)

Publisher's Blurb:

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.

MINM Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars