From acclaimed author Charlie Donlea comes a twisting, impossible-to-put-down novel of suspense in which a filmmaker helps clear a woman convicted of murder—only to find she may be a puppet in a sinister game.
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.
New York producer Sidney Ryan, the heroine of this riveting if flawed novel from Donlea (The Girl Who Was Taken), is producing a documentary TV series about Grace Sebold, an American medical student who has spent 10 years in prison in St. Lucia for the murder of her boyfriend, Julian Crist. As Sidney becomes convinced of Grace's innocence, fans of her show, The Girl of Sugar Beach, pressure authorities to exonerate Grace. One viewer, however, has a different opinion: a retired police detective who investigated a similar death in Grace's past. Racing to meet weekly deadlines, Sidney grapples with whether Grace is guilty a conclusion that will infuriate network executives, devastate fans, and hurt her career or whether she can identify the killer among Grace's circle. Donlea splices Sidney's investigation with excerpted scenes from the documentary and jury room, creating a fast-paced narration that mimics TV shows' frequent scene shifts but doesn't encourage in-depth character development. A risky late plot twist will frustrate some readers while thrilling others, and a few loose ends hint at a potential sequel.