Don’t Believe It
by Charlie Donlea
Review by Bronwyn Eley
The first thing I did when I finished Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea was message my friend.
“WHAT A GOOD BOOK!” I exclaimed – and that wasn’t the half of it.
Charlie Donlea knows how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats for the entire ride. Protagonist Sidney Ryan is producing a true-crime documentary about a woman named Grace Seabold, who was convicted of murdering her boyfriend while on holiday. Grace has spent the last ten years in an overseas prison.
Grace’s story will strike fear in the heart of any reader who has ever travelled and worried about something going wrong. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Schapelle Corby. Not only to be imprisoned, but in a foreign land far from everything and everyone familiar to you. A holiday gone horribly wrong. A nightmare.
Donlea is a master when it comes to sowing doubt. He made me doubt my suspicions, regardless of what Sidney herself believed. This book asks all the questions that so often plague people when faced with these extraordinary cases. What if she didn’t do it? What is she did? What was her motive? Could someone else have done it? We inevitably put ourselves in the same position and wonder if, even if we were guilty, would we deserve that level of isolation and fear? Does the punishment fit the crime?
Sidney’s approach to the documentary is really fascinating – she is producing a real-time documentary, presenting her findings on air as she investigates. Her audience discovers what she discovers as she discovers it. As do we, the readers! I felt as though the book was the documentary. Donlea cleverly stages each discovery and positions each plot twist so that we feel like Sidney is taking us along for the ride. The format is varied – with grabs from the documentary itself, interviews, flashbacks and present-day scenes – which kept it interesting the whole way through. The pace was so snappy, I felt the urgency of Sidney’s enormous and daunting task as conflicting information piled on top of her.
And nothing prepared me for that ending. I actually sat bolt upright, took off my glasses and stared at the page saying: “NO. WAY.”
I want to watch this documentary. I want to meet these people and interview them myself. I want justice for these characters. My own questions were arising with each page. I was itching with the need to be involved in solving the mystery and in a way, thanks to the author, I was.
Don't Believe It
In this twisting, page-turning thriller, an ambitious documentary filmmaker seeks the release of a convicted killer. But is she just a puppet in a sinister game?
From the author of the bestselling The Girl Who Was Taken comes another impossible-to-put-down novel of suspense.
The Girl of Sugar Beach is about to become the most watched documentary in television history. The ten-part true-crime serial centers on the burning question: did Grace Sebold really murder her boyfriend, or is she the victim of a shocking miscarriage of justice?
About the Contributor
Before entering the exciting world of books, Bronwyn served in the Royal Australian Air Force, travelled extensively and worked (still does!) as a barista on the weekends. Books are her true passion. Bronwyn's debut fantasy novel Relic is coming out in 2019 with indie publishing house Talem Press. They are to publish her entire trilogy called The Relic Trilogy. In her spare time, Bronwyn writes, reads and enjoys keeping fit (which she undoes by eating loads of chocolate) with Martial Arts and personal training. She can't answer what her favourite book is but she has a soft spot for Peter Pan (J.M Barrie), Outlander (Diana Gabaldon), Stardust (Neil Gaiman), The Illuminae Files (Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman) and Six of Crows (Leigh Bardugo). Fantasy, sci-fi and YA make up the majority of her bookshelves.