Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donlea

‘The blood was a problem.’

Sidney Ryan is an ambitious filmmaker, making documentaries about true crimes.  After interviewing Grace Sebold, who has spent the last ten years in a St Lucian prison for murdering her boyfriend, Grace was a 26-year-old medical student when she was convicted, she had her whole life ahead of her. Sidney is convinced that this will be her best documentary yet.

Is Grace guilty of murder, or a victim of sloppy police investigation?  Sidney begins her investigation into the murder of Julian Crist.  She uncovers new evidence, additional suspects and other issues overlooked in the initial investigation.  Sidney’s plan is for the documentary go to air over ten weeks: with one episode being prepared (and aired) each week. The documentary attracts a large audience which increases each week.  And, even before it ends, the public outcry is so great that the case is reopened.  Grace will be freed: the St Lucian authorities have been convinced of her innocence. What a triumph the final episodes will be!

But then Sidney receives a letter, saying that she has got it wrong.  Sidney is concerned: has she helped free a ruthless killer? Sidney returns to her research: who killed Julian Crist, and why? The television network that commissioned the series is not happy, but Sidney is determined to learn the truth.

What a roller-coaster ride!  I changed my mind a few times about whether Grace was innocent, but really didn’t anticipate the ending.  This is the first novel by Charlie Donlea I have read: it won’t be the last.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith