Tag Archives: Charlie Donlea

The Girl Who Was Taken, by Charlie Donlea

25 May
the girl who was taken charlie donlea

FIVE of Five Stars

Charlie Donlea has done it again, and now deserves to have his name out as one of the top thriller/suspense/mystery writers out there.

In only his second thriller, Donlea again drops us immediately into the middle of the action, and takes us through a roller coaster ride of likely suspects and red herrings. We go back and forth in time from before the “taking” and then to the present as Megan struggles to understand what happened to her, and Livia searches for her sister… or her sister’s body.

I loved Donlea’s first book, Summit Lake, because it gave a plethora of suspects but I was never able to clearly know Who-Done-It. In that book there were several people who had a clear motive to kill, and though I had guessed the correct person, I also guessed several other people, and we are never sure until the last moment who the real killer is.

That’s the fun of mystery/thrillers, right? You get a good scare, and then you see if you’re smarter than everyone else in the book. It’s always a letdown if you guess the killer right off, or (worse) if the killer is someone it would have been impossible to figure out at all. In Summit Lake Donlea presented person after person who could have done it, and he was masterful at drawing us in and giving red herrings that made sense. The mystery was intricate and it was enjoyable trying to solve.

In this book Donlea does it again. But now we have an even creepier story because we’re not necessarily looking for people with motives, but possibly a madman who could be anyone at all. Once again I did guess the real bad guy (along with many others), and even though this time the person was actually in my top 3 suspects, there was no way in the world to be sure until the very end. We are also treated to several strong female characters, and for the few who are unlikable we are given a psychological basis and history for the actions, along with some redemption. I did not see any simple stereotypes in this book.

At the end we do have some wrap up, and we do get answers, but do we get a happy ending? This may be one of the most realistic thrillers I’ve read, as finding a killer doesn’t really end the suffering of the victims and their friends and families. Donlea is starkly realistic and DARK about the survivors and the likelihood of being a survivor. There may be some closure for a few people, but there will still be a lot of difficult darkness ahead for most.

Many thanks to Kensington Publishing for asking me to be a part of their book blog tour, and thanks to Charlie Donlea for the wonderful book. He is an amazing author and has upped his game with this second book. I cannot wait for the third to arrive.

Buy The Girl Who was Taken.

Buy Summit Lake

Visit Kensington Publishing.


Summit Lake, by Charlie Donlea

3 Jan
summit lake charlie donlea

FIVE of Five Stars

This is a great mystery-thriller, I loved it.
It starts with the death of Becca Eckersley. This isn’t a spoiler, it’s literally the first line in the book. The first chapter takes us through her murder, without giving away the killer’s identity.

Following that we have parallel stories. We follow Becca’s life from 14 months before her death, learning what events and people she was involved with leading up to her final day. Then we also follow Kelsey Castle [I can’t really sign off on that cutesy name, but the character is great] starting from the discovery of Becca’s death, as Kelsey is assigned to cover the story forEvents magazine.

What makes this book different from other mystery-thrillers is that you are really left guessing who the killer is. You will not guess the killer immediately, and even if that person becomes a suspect in your mind, you will be left unsure and guessing until the very end. As we follow Becca’s life and meet the people in it, it becomes clear that any number of people may have had a motive to kill her. And then one by one, those suspects are eliminated as the story goes on. When the killer is finally revealed, SURPRISE! I was not expecting it.

The killer’s identity does not come out of left field, you should have suspected this person at some point in the story (you are meant to suspect many characters). But as the story evolves this one person falls back in the shadows and you have a few others who are much more reasonable to suspect. It all makes sense, it’s all very believable. In my opinion, this story is really well done.

And aside from her name, I did love the character of Kelsey Castle, and if there happen to be books following the character in the future, I am all in.

Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an advanced copy for review. Five out of Five stars, no hesitation.