Release date: May 29, 2018
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.
If you’re one of the millions of people who loved Serial or Making a Murderer then you have got to read this book! It will also appeal to fans of true crime as well as fans of engaging, sharply written thrillers that leave you breathless in the end. I’m basically telling you that this book is for everyone.
Much as like Donlea’s last book, The Girl Who Was Taken, this is told via a unique perspective that breathes fresh life into the genre. Sidney is a producer and seeing the ins and outs of how a television show is made was really cool and something new for me. She doesn’t have the easy connections a police officer has at their fingertips, girlfriend has to seriously hustle to investigate and I loved her determination and grit. She is only in search of the truth, she doesn’t know if Grace is guilty or innocent, but there’s enough questionable material to pique her curiosity. Besides Sidney you visit several other points of view but I feel like revealing who is kind of spoilery, so I’ll just say that they were the type of viewpoints that make you go, YASSS, I’ve been dying to see things from this angle. If you read TGWWT then you get the added bonus of seeing a character from there as well, always so fun!
This book has such a detailed, well thought out and researched plot, from the laws and regulations of St. Lucia, to courtroom processes and all the way to pathology labs and then back again to the production offices where Sidney works, every single aspect was meticulously written and compelling to boot. Twisty doesn’t even come close to accurately describe the roller coaster ride that reading this book took me on, then Donlea delivers a few final killer twists and an explosive finale that knocked my socks off. This book is just as binge worthy as Serial but ten times more satisfying, my hat is off to Mr. Donlea, this is one of the best mysteries I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
Don’t Believe It in three words: Mutilayered, Skillful and Gripping.
Overall rating: 5/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.