Don't Believe It

Don't Believe It

by Charlie Donlea

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Overview

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 overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case.

Delving into Grace’s past, Sidney peels away layer after layer of deception. But as she edges closer to the real heart of the story, Sidney must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career … even her life.

“You can’t blame Charlie Donlea if the ending of his novel makes your jaw drop. The title alone is fair warning that his characters are no more to be trusted than our initial impressions of them.”
—The New York Times Book Review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786042210
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 03/26/2019
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 110,710
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author Charlie Donlea was born and raised in Chicago. He now lives in the suburbs with his wife and two young children. Readers can find him online at charliedonlea.com.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Hewanorra International Airport St. Lucia March 2017
SIDNEY RYAN FINISHED TAPPING ON HER COMPUTER, SAVED HER FILE, and folded the laptop closed. She reached under the seat and slipped it into her carry-on. The popping in her ears told her they had started their descent. She pulled a thick folder from her bag, opened it, and removed the maiden letter that had started her journey.

Dear Sidney,

It's been a while. Fifteen years? Congratulations on all your success. I've followed your career, as you can imagine, quite closely. You are a champion for those who cannot help themselves. As I'm sure you are aware, your accomplishments have echoed far beyond those who have directly benefited. For those like myself, whose fates have long ago been determined, you give hope that somehow things can still change.

I'll assume you know my story. And I hope this letter makes it into your hands. You are, quite literally, my last chance. I've exhausted the appeals process. It is different here than in the States. I've learned the St. Lucian justice system well over the last decade. There are no more loopholes to find, and no more formalities to follow. From this point forward, I can count on only one thing to help me — a re-examination of the evidence. Without it, I will spend my life here. And with each year that passes, it feels as though fewer and fewer people are looking at my case. Lately it seems that no one remembers me besides my family.

I'm writing you, Sidney, to ask you to consider helping an old friend. Of course, I understand no promises can be made. And I'm able to offer nothing in the way of compensation. Yet, I still find myself writing to you. I have no one else to ask.

My attorney and I can provide you with every bit of information about my case. Perhaps, if you look through it all, you will see what so many others have missed.

Thank you, Sidney, for anything you can do for an old friend.

Yours Sincerely, Grace Sebold

Sidney folded the letter and looked out the window. The plane was on a gentle glide and ready to set down in the ocean when a runway reached out and grabbed the Airbus A330 to pull it safely onto dry land. A five-minute taxi settled the plane on the tarmac just outside the terminal doors. Everyone onboard opened overhead compartments and gathered bags. Sidney walked through the plane's exit door and stepped onto the landing of the staircase, where the humid Caribbean air quickly worked her skin to a glistening shine. She took the stairs to the tarmac and felt the heat of the pavement rise in invisible flames around her. The camera crew sorted their equipment as she headed into the terminal. Through customs thirty minutes later, she bounced in the backseat of the taxi van as the driver navigated the rolling mountains of St. Lucia and the twisting roads that cut through their slopes.

Hills lush with rain forest filled the windows of the taxi for most of the sixty-minute ride. Eventually the driver shifted to a lower gear and the van strained to climb a steep bank. As they crested the precipice on the outskirts of the Jalousie Plantation, the ocean came into view across the valley. In the middle of the afternoon, the water carried an emerald brilliance, and from such an elevated vantage point looked almost cartoonish as it smoldered bright cobalt in the area near shore, melting to a deeper navy farther out to sea.

The driver began the descent into the valley toward Sugar Beach Resort. Contrasting the journey to this point, which had been defined by a series of steep inclines barely conquered by the taxi van's straining engine, the ride down into the valley came with the constant squeak of brakes and slow turns around hairpins. The deeper they ventured into the basin, the higher the twin volcanic plugs of Gros Piton and Petit Piton rose on either side of them. The prehistoric nature of the precipitous mountains gave Sidney the sense of heading into Jurassic Park.

Finally the van made the last turn and tall iron gates parted as they approached the entrance to the resort. The humidity again mugged her when the door slid open and Sidney climbed from the van.

"Ms. Ryan," a staff member said, extending a basket of ice-cold hand towels. "Welcome to Sugar Beach."

Sidney draped the towel across the back of her neck.

"The staff will manage your bags," the woman said in a pleasant Caribbean accent. "Your firm has already arranged check-in, so your room is waiting."

Sidney nodded and followed the woman onto a path lined by Lansan trees, the shade of which offered a reprieve from the heat. The staffer pointed out landmarks as they walked.

"The spa is that way," she said, pointing. "It's world renowned and highly recommended. Built directly into the rain forest."

Sidney smiled and nodded, surveying the treehouse–like structures built within the forest and the wooden staircases that twirled down to the ground.

The woman pointed in the other direction. "This path will take you to the beach."

Overhanging branches of palm trees cocooned the long cobblestone walkway. Their heavy fronds rustled in the ocean breeze toward the far end of the path, where a spot of bright sunshine and surf was just visible from where Sidney stood.

They made one more turn. "And here is your cottage."

The woman keyed the door and allowed Sidney to enter the posh room, the furniture of which was white and immaculate. Dark cherrywood floors shone brightly with afternoon sunlight that spilled through the windows and French doors.

"The bar is stocked with anything you might like — water, juice, and soda. Spirits as well. Your bags should arrive shortly."

"Thank you," Sidney said. She glanced at the placard outside the door: 306.

"Yes," the woman said, recognizing the question in Sidney's eyes. "This was the room she stayed in."

Sidney nodded.

"Please call if you need anything," the woman said.

"Thank you."

Sidney closed the cottage door and allowed the air-conditioned interior to cool her body and unstick her shirt from her skin. She looked around the room, moving her gaze from the shining wooden floors to the lush bathroom accommodations, to the sun-drenched patio, and finally to the plush four-poster bed, with its brilliant white comforter. She ran her hand over the thick blanket before sitting on the edge.

Ten years earlier, Grace Sebold had slept in this very room the night Julian Crist was killed.

CHAPTER 2

The tropical gardens were plush and green as Sidney and her crew walked along the resort's serpentine paths that wound toward the beach. Once past the pool, her tennis shoes sank into the sand of Sugar Beach. Around her, the twin peaks sprouted into the sky. On her right and to the north, Petit Piton; on her left and to the south, Gros Piton. Laid between the summits was a two-hundred-yard stretch of sugar-white sand that glistened under the hot sun. Closer toward the water, the sand was darker, where the surf washed over it and bathed it into wet caramel.

"Ms. Ryan?" a young Caribbean man asked as he approached.

"Sidney." She reached out and shook his hand.

"Darnell. I'll be guiding you and your crew today. Are you ready?"

Sidney nodded. She looked back to her camera guys and pointed to the Pitons. "Get these," she said to her crew. "A few stills from the base to the peak, with a clouded sky above. Maybe time-lapse it to get a tropical storm moving through. Might be a good promo, beautiful scenery one minute and a ferocious storm the next. Aerials would work well, if we can budget it." She looked back to Darnell. "Is the hike difficult?"

"To the summit?" He smiled. His teeth were broad and white.

"Yeh, man. To the Soufriere Bluff? Easy."

"Easy?" Sidney asked.

"No problem." Darnell pointed to Sidney's bicep, then flexed his own and let out a jovial laugh. "Trust me. No problem."

Thirty minutes later, they had completed the necessary paperwork and signed the waivers required to partake in a guided hike up Gros Piton. The trip to the summit was an all-day excursion taking more than four hours. To the bluff where Julian Crist was killed required thirty minutes of walking along a narrow path flanked by heavy foliage, with occasional views of Pitons Bay to the north and the Jalousie Plantation to the east.

Sidney and her crew were halfway to the bluff when they came to a staircase made from boulders and flanked by a makeshift bamboo railing. The structure had been reinforced over the years with additional balustrades and a few odd rocks. The man-made arrangement tackled a steep gorge that would otherwise be too challenging to traverse.

"Darnell," Sidney said as they approached the Stone Age staircase. "Has this portion of the hike changed over the years?"

"No. Same now as it's always been."

"So, ten years ago, this was the same staircase?"

"Yeh, man. Same is same."

Sidney directed her crew. "Get this from bottom to top, and then top to bottom. Capture a first-person account of climbing up the staircase, no one else in the frame. And time me on the way up. Take a few more runs and get an average of how long it takes to walk it, jog it, and sprint it."

Sidney followed Darnell up the boulders, the first vigorous portion of the day's hike. With temperatures in the low nineties and 100 percent humidity, her tank top was soaked by the time she was halfway up the staircase.

A healthy thirty-six-year-old woman in good physical shape, Sidney considered that she was ten years older now than Grace had been when she supposedly made this journey. Sidney needed the aid of the bamboo railing to make it to the top. The steep incline toward the peak required her to grab the bamboo with both hands, one on each side, to hoist herself to the top. Once there, she surveyed the landing and then headed back down. At the foot of the stairs, she grabbed a tripod from one of the crewmembers and extended it to its full length, placed it over her shoulder, and repeated her climb up the boulders with only one hand available to grab the bamboo.

When Sidney was satisfied with her test runs, she found Darnell sitting in the shade of a Lansan. "How much farther?"

"Not much," Darnell said, pushing himself away from the tree's trunk. "A few switchbacks."

She followed Darnell along the narrow dirt path until they made one last turn. Then the foliage cleared and a bluff came into view — smooth beige granite that mirrored the afternoon sun. Sidney walked over to it, already visualizing how she could present this majestic and tragic scene.

"Is this it?" she asked as she walked carefully onto the bluff.

"Yeh, man." Darnell was more daring, walking fearlessly to the edge. "He went over right here. All the way down to the water." He pointed over the ledge, then smacked his palms together.

Sidney stopped a few feet from the edge, bent at the waist, and took a hesitant glance over the threshold. Her stomach rose into her throat. It was a long way down. She looked behind her. The camera crew was just now arriving after capturing the staircase from the angles she requested. Sidney walked over to Leslie Martin, her producing partner, turned back to look at the clearing and the bluff and the pristine view of Pitons Bay sparkling with afternoon sun. She put her arms out wide.

"I need a full shot of this view. A first-person perspective, coming around the bend and witnessing the bluff and the clearing and the bay. We'll need to get a shot at sunset as well, with the sun in the backdrop and long shadows creeping toward the camera. That's about the time he was killed."

"I can see the promo," Leslie said. "Gorgeous, but eerie."

Sidney nodded. "Get a blanket up here, too. With a bottle of champagne and two glasses. Low shot, okay? Ground level, with the glasses in the foreground and the setting sun behind them."

"You're a genius. I love it," Leslie said.

"It was a long time ago," Darnell interrupted. "When that boy went over the edge. What is the interest so many years later?"

"Research."

"For a book?"

"No, a film."

Darnell's bright smile appeared again. "A movie?"

"Documentary."

Sidney walked back onto the bluff as her camera crew prepared to film the area where Julian Crist was killed. She enjoyed a moment of solitude as she looked out over the ocean, and then down to Sugar Beach, where vacationers strolled hand in hand, their footsteps melting in the sand.

"Okay, St. Lucia. Tell me your story."

The Girl of Sugar Beach

"Pilot" Episode *Based on the interview with eyewitnesses from the scene

They were celebrating in St. Lucia and had chosen this morning, the day of their twentieth wedding anniversary, to watch the sunrise. With dark outlines of the twin Pitons rising on either side of Sugar Beach, like broad-shouldered guards on night watch, the couple strapped into their kayaks in the predawn hours. The sky was still dark and the moon was the only light that guided them as its charcoaled brightness fell softly across Pitons Bay. Sugar Beach, situated on the west side of the island, offered the perfect locale for sunsets. To witness the sunrise, vacationers needed to navigate across twelve miles of mountainous terrain to reach the eastern side of St. Lucia. The other option was to take to the ocean. A five-mile paddle over calm water brought kayakers to the southern tip of the island, just past Vieux Fort, and presented an unfettered view to the eastern horizon.

They clicked on their headlamps as they took off through the darkness, hugging the shoreline around Gros Piton. They stayed fifty yards off the coastline, keeping a good pace of nearly three knots. It was a strenuous workout they had undertaken many times before. They maintained a tandem formation, him in front of her so she could utilize his draft. After an hour of paddling, the black inkiness of night melted as a cerulean glow took to the sky. After three miles, he fell back and allowed her to take the lead until the southern portion of the island jetted away from them to the southeast. Here they kept a straight tack that took them farther offshore, a more direct line that eventually rendered a clear sight line to the horizon.

When they made it past Vieux Fort, floating in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, they pulled their kayaks together and drank from their water bottles. Their breathing came under control just as the sun emerged from the ocean. A magnificent sight, the tip of the sun pierced the horizon and the couple leaned over the edges of their kayaks and kissed.

After ten minutes, the sun was bright and its reflection spread from the horizon to capture their kayaks in its glow. They turned and started their journey back to Sugar Beach. The twin peaks in the distance acted as their navigational tool. With a steady northwest current, it took just over an hour to make it back to the base of Gros Piton, where they clung to its structure and paddled around its base. One final turn and Sugar Beach came into view. Still too early for resort life, the beach was empty but for a few early-morning walkers. The huts were vacant, and the bungalows void of activity. A few staff members prepared lounge chairs and hustled dishes and glassware to the beach bar.

She glided the kayak paddle through the water on the left side, then dipped the paddle into the water to her right. She'd repeated the same process for the past three hours. This time, however, her paddle didn't glide smoothly through the water, but instead struck a solid object. She jerked, scaring herself that a sea animal was ready to capsize the kayak. But when she looked into the water, she saw immediately that it was no animal.

Her scream was nearly enough to topple her husband, who was a few yards ahead and preparing to exit his kayak and step into the shallow waters off Sugar Beach. He pivoted in a quick U-turn as his wife continued in hysterics, slapping her paddle at the water in an effort to get away.

When he came up beside her, his stomach turned. The body floated on its stomach, arms and legs outstretched like a skydiver in midflight. A cloudy swirl of blood muddied the crystal-clear waters.

CHAPTER 3

"What's the interest, Ms. Ryan?" Inspector Claude Pierre asked.

A tall, thin man with hair so short his scalp was visible, Pierre had run the investigation division of the St. Lucian police force for the past two decades. A native St. Lucian, born and raised, he was a product of the island and the school system, and was an example of how hard work and determination could bring you to the top of your occupation. It was the same here on a small island as in any large city in the United States. Sidney had done her research on Inspector Pierre, and knew him to be a terribly proud man of his homeland and his role within it.

"I'm filming a documentary about Julian Crist, and looking for anyone who had knowledge about the case. Anyone who might be able to offer details."

"What is the nature of the documentary?"

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Don't Believe It"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Charlie Donlea.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Also by,
Title Page,
Copyright Page,
Dedication,
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS,
Epigraph,
Epigraph,
SUGAR BEACH - ST. LUCIA, EASTERN CARIBBEAN,
PART I - THE DOCUMENTARY,
PART II - THE PITCH,
PART III - A RATINGS JUGGERNAUT,
PART IV - THE OTHER SIDE,
PART V - ON THE ROAD AGAIN,

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Don't Believe It 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Love+this+author.++I%27ve++read++all+three++of++his++books+and++I%27m++hooked.++Sure++hope++there++will++be++a++sequel++to+this+one%21
Anonymous 6 months ago
great+mystery+that+keeps+you+guessing+all+the+way%0A%0A
Anonymous 9 months ago
Just when you think you solved the mystery
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Every time I put it down I dreamed another ending and I still got it wrong.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Outstanding twists and turns
P-king More than 1 year ago
Three days ago: Charlie Donlea- never heard of him. Today: Charlie Donlea- will never forget him. Remember his name if you are a fan of suspense and psychological thrillers! I can’t say ENOUGH about the author and I can’t say ANYTHING about the plot or it would ruin it for you! But, I CAN promise you this: 1) You will be shocked, if not flabbergasted! 2) You will be fooled! The plot is that fantastic and the author that accomplished! The structure of Don’t Believe It is unique. It is a treat to read a new voice and a new style developing a mystery. The author BRILLIANTLY alternates between different POVs and time frames. The plot developes with an exquisite flair through a documentary setting ( think of Investigative Discovery, Making a Murderer television). Fascinating and scintillating! Layers of the mystery are peeled and revealed, but not before outstanding red herrings and twists! This is a captivating read with an explosive climax! I was 95% through the book and still did not have it figured out. And when the murder mystery is revealed, there is yet another surprising twist that is deliciously dazzlingly! I experienced multiple bouts of adrenaline as Mr. Donlea keeps this enthralling story arc going and going! I can’t say enough about the author’s sterling skill in this genre. Bravo! I will definitely be listing Charlie Donlea as go-to favorite for suspense thrillers! My thanks to NetGalley, the author and publisher for allowing me the pleasure of reading I Don’t Believe It! 4 likes
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down and very convincing. Love the surprise ending!
Darby0517 More than 1 year ago
I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Don't Believe It is about a documentary that Sidney Ryan films. She looks for people who are possibly wrongly imprisoned and researches their "innocence" This book follows several characters: Sidney (documentary producer) and Grace Sebold (we will discover if she murdered her fiance Julian on spring break.) As Sidney beings doing her research she is finding the detectives evidence just doesn't quite add up. First, there is evidence that doesn't fit the crime that was committed. Second, there are more witnesses and suspects that were unaccounted for. Also, a cop that has some evidence that points right at Grace being a murder. So, who murdered Julian. Was it Grace? Was it Grace's best friends? Or was it someone else? I couldn't put this book down!!! Once I started reading I had to know who killed Julian. I read a lot of suspense books and I truly didn't see this ending coming! I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to sit outside and enjoy a good read or also someone who is on vacation. When you read this book, you will discover if Grace is innocent or did Sidney make a huge mistake opening this case?!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This author is on a roll! So good....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
WOW... absolutely, the BEST book I've read in quite some time! It was definitely a "page turner". I had a hard time putting it down. Just when you think you have it all wrapped up, the author takes you down another path. Buy this book! You won't be sorry. Holding my breath for another book from my NEW favorite author. All have been good, but this is at the TOP of my list! Buy this book!
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
With true crime documentaries (Making of a Murderer, etc.) being the new thing being streamed by audiences through Netflix, etc., this book delves right into that newfound popularity. Sidney Ryan has a new idea whereby the documentary is produced weekly and then streamed at the end of that week. There are an unknown number of episodes as Sidney has no idea how the story will end. Her subject is Grace Sebold, who has many names such as "Grisly Grace", etc. Grace is in jail having served ten years of her life sentence for killing her fiancee by pushing him off a mountainside into the water below in St. Lucia. There is also an elderly man named Gus who has just had one of his legs removed due to cancer and is in rehab learning to deal with this situation. The reader is advised that he worked in police enforcement, however, that doesn't happen right away. They are also not made aware of what Gus's role is going to be in the book for a while. However, he does become a very intricate part of the story. The U.S. Attorney's office also gets involved as Grace is a U.S. citizen in jail in a foreign country who may be innocent. All of these things just add to the plot to garner a few more very interesting twists. I found it fascinating to read and watch how Sidney Ryan deals with all these situations. Of course, that's not the only thing that held my attention. The ending with its multitude of twists was crazy. I was shocked!! I will say though, I did not like a certain part of the ending. That's not what I wanted to happen, at all!! Ha!! An interesting read that held me spellbound throughout the whole book. Did she or didn't she? You gotta read it to know. And, it's worth it. Thanks to Kensington Books and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.
ChroniclesofaBookHoarder More than 1 year ago
I don’t think it is a secret that true crime documentaries and podcasts have taken over the country.  For a while there, it was impossible to check social media without seeing an update on “Serial” or “Making a Murderer.”  Don’t Believe It is a clever fictionalized behind the scenes version of one of those documentaries. The main character, Sidney Ryan, is a successful filmmaker and producer who has helped prove the innocence of several incarcerated criminals through her documentaries.  This success has drawn the attention of inmates all over the country, including one of her previous classmates, Grace Sebold.  Grace is incarcerated in St. Lucia, where she was convicted of murdering her medical student boyfriend while they were visiting the island for a wedding.  She mails Sidney several letters over the years with details about her case and the ways that she believes the St. Lucia police force screwed up the investigation.  After visiting Grace in prison, Sidney decides to create a new type of documentary chronicling her investigation of Grace’s case in real-time. As Sidney begins to dig into Grace’s story, she discovers startling new information disproving the prosecution’s theory of the case.  Her documentary is a big hit and draws in millions of American viewers.  However, just as the American public is starting to call for Grace’s release, Sidney unearths information that makes her question Grace’s innocence.  Is she helping to free a murderer?  Sidney must uncover the truth before it is too late and must also decide which is more important – her career or her conscience. Don’t Believe It was an engaging mystery that will appeal to fans of true crime documentaries.  Even though it is fictional, it follows Sidney’s investigation in real-time, so it feels like you are examining the evidence at the same time she is.  It also explores the science behind the evidence that was used to convict Grace.  As a full-time lawyer, I read a lot of criminal trial transcripts, and the analysis of the evidence felt realistic.  At one point, a scientist analyzes the skull fracture of the murder victim, and it felt like an episode of CSI.  People who find forensics interesting will really enjoy that aspect of the plot. My one complaint – and I don’t want to get into this too much because it will give things away – is I think there were a couple of lose threads that weren’t ever tied up, and I don’t think a couple of plot points at the end felt very realistic.  Still, the “who dunnit” made sense, and the plot had a couple of twists, including one that I don’t see in books very often.  Overall, I think it is a great read that a lot of people will enjoy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a huge fan of St Lucia I couldn’t wait to read this - as good as his other two books! Read it in 3 days!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For him to be a fairly new author this guy rocks with all 3 of his books...On pins and needles for the next Watch out the ending will get you
BooksDirect More than 1 year ago
Ten years ago, Grace was convicted of killing her boyfriend on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. Sidney, a reporter who has gained the reputation for getting convictions overturned, decides to film a documentary on the case and travels to St. Lucia for research. It looks like Grace might be innocent, but when new information comes to light, which is more important? The ratings or the truth? Sidney’s story on the making of the documentary is interspersed with scenes from her documentary. As Sidney herself pitches it to her network: “The episodes will be a retelling of events, as I understand them. A mix of reenactments as well as live footage of my investigation. The audience will discover what I discover as I discover it.” This format gives the narrative urgency, as Sidney is on a deadline each week to come up with the material for the next episode. The author uses multiple viewpoints to tell the story; some (like the taxi driver’s) are totally unnecessary. Unfortunately, there is also a bit of head-hopping in some scenes. The ending took the story in a different direction to what I was expecting and, while the story is complete, it is open to the possibility of a sequel. An engrossing read. I received this book in return for an honest review. Full blog post: https://booksdirectonline.blogspot.com/2018/05/dont-believe-it-by-charlie-donlea.html
LlamaJen More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!!!! It was amazing and one of my favorite books that I read this year. After reading "Summit Lake" (which I LOVED), I became a huge fan of the author and get excited when there's a new book out. This book definitely has twists and turns and I didn't want to put it down. I was hooked immediately. Grumpy retired Detective Gus Morelli became one of my favorite characters and I never suspected the important part he would play in Grace's story. I loved how he was still seeking to get the truth out about what really happened. Sidney Ryan decides to film a real-time documentary on Grace Sebold. Grace has been sitting ten years in a prison in St. Lucia after being convicted of murdering her boyfriend. Sidney starts her own investigation and discovers some new evidence. There's even an appearance from Dr. Livia Cutty. Grace's friends, Ellie, Daniel, Charlotte and her brother Marshall play a major role in the whole story. I wasn't expecting the ending. I thought I might know who the killers was, but I kept changing my mind. I wasn't completely surprised but the motives behind it were scary. Now that I finished the book, I wish the story wasn't over!!! Even though Grace was released from prison she is still stuck in one for the rest of her life. I LOVED the book so I definitely recommend it. I also recommend "Summit Lake and "The Girl Who Was Taken" because they were just as amazing. I can't wait to read the author's next book. Thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books and the author, Charlie Donlea, for a free electronic ARC of this novel.
Dollycas More than 1 year ago
Dollycas’s Thoughts Filmmaker Sidney Ryan feels she has found the perfect subject for her new documentary. Grace Sebold has been in prison in St. Lucia for the past 10 years. Found guilty of killing her boyfriend while on Spring Break. A crime she says she didn’t commit. She had reached out to Grace to tell her story and hopefully prove she didn’t kill anyone. Sidney starts investigating and quickly sees many inconsistencies in the previous investigation. She sells the story to television, pitching a 10 episode series that she will do almost in real time as she digs into the case. The series premiers with good ratings and grows with each episode. A public outcry gets the attention of the U.S. government and they realize one of its citizens may be in prison in a foreign country for a crime she didn’t commit. At the same time, Sidney receives a letter telling her that her docudrama is wrong and that Grace has to be guilty. Before she can put together the final episodes she takes her investigation in a different direction and by doing that she risks everything. This story could be ripped from the headlines. True Crime dramas are hot right now. They are all over television, even have channels dedicated to this type of program. This one also delves into the police procedures and the courts in St. Lucia, an island where tourists are their bed and butter. Most of the story is told from Sidney Ryan’s point of view and she plans and investigates. Interspersed between are interviews Sidney has with people connected to the case. The fact that she was creating the episodes almost in real time, sometimes just a day or two before it aired, including all the behind the scenes drama was so interesting. It kept the pace of the story at a high level. The author does an excellent job of giving us readers an intense story. I was sucked in right from the start. The story has twists that changed my thinking several times. Was Grace really innocent? If she was, who killed Julian? I had a clear thought of another suspect and then another and then back to Grace. I don’t want to say too much to ruin the story but the ending took a turn I never imagined. After reading The Girl Who Was Taken last summer, I did not even read the synopsis for this book before reading it. I just knew it was written by Charlie Donlea and I had to read it. I am glad I did that. This is a book you just need to jump into and let it take you away. This story is well written, very detailed, and much more than it originally seems. A totally entertaining story that I had a hard time putting down.
SarahJoint More than 1 year ago
This is the perfect group read: you'll have plenty to discuss, lots of theories to share, suspicions to talk about... and you're probably wrong on all of them. Don't Believe It cemented Charlie Donlea's place on my must-read list. It's laid out in a unique way, sharing details about the making of a documentary interspersed with scenes from the finished product. It reads like you're really there watching it unfold, which ups the tension and keeps you on your toes. Imagine a documentary series that airs each episode right after it's completed: the viewers find things out right after the cast and crew does. There's no such thing as spoilers. It would be a risky format, and this book shows exactly why! Expect the unexpected. For ten years, Grace Sebold has been in jail for the murder of her boyfriend in St. Lucia. It was big news for awhile in the States, the med student couple with such promising futures on a vacation that went terribly wrong. After she was found guilty, she faded into the background. She isn't giving up on her freedom though. She just needs help. She needs Sidney Ryan. A rising filmmaker, Sidney has already freed a few people by casting doubt on their conviction and making a documentary about it. Can she do the same for Grace? Soon, the med student turned prisoner has America watching and rooting for her. The case has definite problems, and everything is being dug up. Sidney finds plenty of reasons for the case to be opened again. Just when Grace is set free, Sidney receives correspondence that tells her she has it wrong. That Grace should be spending the rest of her life behind bars. That she's responsible for the release of a ruthless killer. Could she have gotten her wrong? I practically squealed when Livia Cutty from The Girl Who Was Taken made an appearance, adding to an already strong list of characters. Completely absorbing, twisted, and shocking, this book comes highly recommended from me with 4.5 stars! When I participate in group reads, it's not uncommon for some people to just not be a fan of the book. With this one, we all were! (Hello, Traveling Sisters!) I received a copy of this book from Net Galley and Kensington Books, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
SarahJoint More than 1 year ago
This is the perfect group read: you'll have plenty to discuss, lots of theories to share, suspicions to talk about... and you're probably wrong on all of them. Don't Believe It cemented Charlie Donlea's place on my must-read list. It's laid out in a unique way, sharing details about the making of a documentary interspersed with scenes from the finished product. It reads like you're really there watching it unfold, which ups the tension and keeps you on your toes. Imagine a documentary series that airs each episode right after it's completed: the viewers find things out right after the cast and crew does. There's no such thing as spoilers. It would be a risky format, and this book shows exactly why! Expect the unexpected. For ten years, Grace Sebold has been in jail for the murder of her boyfriend in St. Lucia. It was big news for awhile in the States, the med student couple with such promising futures on a vacation that went terribly wrong. After she was found guilty, she faded into the background. She isn't giving up on her freedom though. She just needs help. She needs Sidney Ryan. A rising filmmaker, Sidney has already freed a few people by casting doubt on their conviction and making a documentary about it. Can she do the same for Grace? Soon, the med student turned prisoner has America watching and rooting for her. The case has definite problems, and everything is being dug up. Sidney finds plenty of reasons for the case to be opened again. Just when Grace is set free, Sidney receives correspondence that tells her she has it wrong. That Grace should be spending the rest of her life behind bars. That she's responsible for the release of a ruthless killer. Could she have gotten her wrong? I practically squealed when Livia Cutty from The Girl Who Was Taken made an appearance, adding to an already strong list of characters. Completely absorbing, twisted, and shocking, this book comes highly recommended from me with 4.5 stars! When I participate in group reads, it's not uncommon for some people to just not be a fan of the book. With this one, we all were! (Hello, Traveling Sisters!) I received a copy of this book from Net Galley and Kensington Books, thank you! My review is honest and unbiased.
Boohimdanno More than 1 year ago
Charlie Donlea transports readers to an amazing Island location where the story is set. Readers are given a wonderful visual of the island as the are weaved into a story of mystery. This story will keep readers wanting more as they finish the book with a shocking ending the might not see coming. The cast of characters are well written. The story flows well from topic to topic and readers will eat up this story. Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the advance copy of Charlie Donlea Don't Believe it
MusicInPrint More than 1 year ago
POWERFUL WOMEN solving PUZZLES that the past deems resolved! Charlie Donlea came to the forefront with "The Girl Who Was Taken" and character Nicole Cutty. NOW documentary TV producer Sidney Ryan will use Nicole along with a host of other experts to find new evidence in a crime that took place ten years ago. Flying in and out of the country to create The Girl of Sugar Beach, Sidney along with her crew spotlight the incarceration of Grace Sebold convicted of murdering her boyfriend, Julian, in St. Lucia which is located in the Caribbean. Donlea reveals the past and the present in a skillful way that makes for an exceptional crime drama worthy of the big screen. Enjoyed "Don't Believe it" as much as I did "The Girl Who Was Taken". These both stand alone and draw characters that will not be soon forgotten. "A copy of this book was provided by Kensington Books via Netgalley with no requirement for a review. Comments here are my honest opinion."
MackenzieH More than 1 year ago
The last 40% of this book is absolutely mind-blowing!!! I had to go back and reread passages to make sure I read what I thought I did!!! This is my first book by Charlie Donlea, and what a fantastic introduction to this author!!! This book already drew me in with the premise, but the writing and the way the story was executed kept me engaged until the very last page. This is a book that is fueled by the plot. Some thrillers take place mostly in the minds of the characters, but this book is action driven. There are no slow points—every single chapter is moving you towards the shocking conclusion. You’ll want to pay attention, because a LOT happens in this book! 10 years ago Grace Sebold was convicted of murdering her boyfriend… Grace’s life was on the right track--she was accepted in the medical residency she wanted in NYC with her boyfriend Julian, who is unbeknownst to her about to propose marriage to her at Sugar Beach. But before he can propose, Julian falls to his death. Or was he pushed? The prosecution believes Grace was the one who pushed him, and they have a mountain of evidence to back it up! Grace claims she didn’t do it… When documentary film-maker Sidney Ryan is hired by network television, she finds herself wanting to film a wrongful conviction cases like she has worked on in the past. After reading years’ worth of letters from Grace proclaiming her innocence and the issues with Grace’s case, Sidney gets the network to greenlight her investigation into Grace’s conviction for a real-time television docuseries. Sidney hopes to discover whether Grace is guilty, or whether she is a victim too. With evidence piling up, Sidney has a hit on her hands… The public is enamored with the story of Grace Sebold, but as Sidney gets closer to the truth, she feels pressure by the network to deliver them the outcome they want. Sidney isn’t sure what the truth is, but she knows she has to deliver one slam-dunk of an ending! Can she find enough evidence to uncover the truth? This is truly un-put-downable by about 60% in. I raced home from work to finish it! This is an action-driven book, not a character-driven book. Similar to the documentary viewers, the readers is uncovering the evidence along with Sidney as she races to finish the 10-part docuseries as it is already filming. I found myself questioning everything along with Sidney. Did Grace do it? Or was she innocent all along? Donlea does a fantastic job of leaving the suggestion of either scenario there, even as evidence is uncovered. I really enjoyed the scene breaks with the summary of the documentary episodes. All of the settings and characters were so vivid, and I could really envision the scenes of the documentary as I read them. I found myself curious about so many of the characters! We see them all the way a viewer might—with snippets of knowledge about their relationships to Grace, to Julian, and to each other. In the same way a detective uncovers evidence, we begin to hear multiple perspectives on Grace and Julian, and with each new lead the puzzle gets even more complicated. Throughout the book there is the feeling that you are almost to the truth, if you can just put the right pieces together in the right way. I’m sure this is how Sidney, and the detectives, and even Grace’s loved ones feel. I think fans of true crime documentaries and series will love this aspect to the book! Thank you to Kensington books for the opportunity to read and review this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great premise and pacing until the last few chapters when it takes a ridiculous turn. Evidently the author plans on a sequel; which I will not read because I no longer trust the author to deliver a satisfying story.