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.
So I basically went into Don’t Believe It by Charlie Donleablind since I had long ago read and forgotten the blurb. I love to do this because it removes any expectation you may have about what the book is going to be like. Donlea is an auto-read author for me anyway, but I’m still glad that’s how I approached this novel.
Don’t Believe It is about an up-and-coming film producer named Sidney Ryan, age 36, who has produced three documentaries which have resulted in the exonerations of people imprisoned for crimes they did not commit. She becomes involved in the case of Grace Sebold, a US citizen who was convicted of killing her boyfriend while they are in St. Lucia for a friend’s wedding. Sidney starts production on a real-time documentary revolving around Grace’s case. Has Grace been in a St. Lucia prison for 10 years for something she hasn’t done? Or is she right where she belongs?
My thing with Donlea’s books is that I know I am going to like them but it takes me awhile to get into them. While they don’t grip me right away, they are still very readable and I know I’m in for at least one crazy twist that will leave me gasping. Well I have a confession that will probably be an unpopular opinion (meaning I am the only person in the world that feels this way), but I was SO FRUSTRATED with the ending to this book – like on the verge of hating it. So why did I still rate it a 4? Because Donlea is an amazing writer, and he is great at shocking the reader with things you can’t possibly see coming. Is the ending all that believable? I have a hard time thinking so and it honestly left me feeling rather unsatisfied. But I gotta hand it to him because it was definitely a shock (plus a damn shame). I feel like there is a common theme to Donlea’s endings that always leave me very frustrated and slightly unsatisfied, but I believe this is the point.
I loved the concept of the real-time documentary in a book and although some readers may feel like it drags on a bit, I really liked it since it was something new and different for me. It kinda felt like I was watching a TV show instead of reading a book, and I loved the behind-the-scenes aspects the book talks about. I also learned that George Clooney has a tequila, who’d a thunk it?!
I also really loved that we got to catch up with Livia Cutty again who is a repeat character from The Girl Who Was Taken. You don’t need to read that book to read this book, but if you want the backstory of Livia first it might be a good idea. She plays a fairly small role in this book, but I loved it nonetheless.
Final Thought: I’m not going to say anything else about this book other than you need to read it because it is CHARLIE FREAKING DONLEA PEOPLE! ‘Nuff said.
Don’t Believe It in 3-ish words: Shocking, Unpredictable, Twisted
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ / 5
Thank you so much to Kensington Publishing for sending me a review copy of this book! All opinions are my own.