Summit Lake by Charlie Donlea

KK Conley Review

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I love the fast pace of this book about a pair of star-crossed lovers and a wounded journalist seeking to heal. This is another debut book by a promising new author.

The author switches point of view back and forth between Becca Eckersley, the murdered girl, before she was killed and Kelsey Castle, the investigative journalist. Sometimes this style of writing annoys me, but not here. The transitions are smooth, and the reader is given the information needed.

Kelsey herself is emotionally wounded and supposed  to be on a leave to recuperate. She comes back to work two weeks early, and her boss/father figure sends her to cover what they both believe is a fluff piece.

Kelsey stumbles onto a real story. She identifies with Becca and becomes obsessed with her murder. Kelsey’s investigation is hampered because somebody with a lot of money and political power does not want all the truth to come out. The case is taken away from the local police chief, so even he doesn’t know what happened. He’s angry, and believes the state investigators are on the wrong track. Kelsey finds him an ally.

The story is fast paced. I could not put it down and finished it in the middle of the night. I recommend this book, and believe you will enjoy it.

Booklist Online Review 

The police believe that law student Becca Eckersley knew her murderer. What they can’t figure out is who would have followed this likable young woman to her parents’ second home in the Blue Ridge Mountains and beaten her to death. Chapters going back a little more than a year before her death show Becca to be a dedicated student with a small group of devoted friends. As the chapters draw down to the months before her death, it becomes clear that at least one of her friendships was not what it had seemed. Recovering from a haunting episode in her own life, journalist Kelsey Castle is in Summit Lake investigating the case for her magazine—and uncovering secrets some very powerful people would like to keep hidden. Debut author Donlea keeps the reader racing through the chapters about Becca’s past, trying to stay one step ahead of the present-day investigation. Fans of contemporary suspense will enjoy this brisk read.

— Karen Keefe

©Booklist Online

Amazon Description and Rating

Set in a small, picturesque North Carolina town, Charlie Donlea’s suspenseful debut novel tells the haunting story of a murdered law school student, the reporter assigned to her story—and the intimate connection that comes when the living walk in the footsteps of the dead.

“No suspects.  No persons of interest.  Just a girl who was alive one day and dead the next.”

Some places seem too beautiful to be touched by horror. Summit Lake, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is that kind of place, with charming stilt houses dotted along the pristine water. But two weeks ago, Becca Eckersley, a first-year law student, was brutally murdered in one of those houses. The daughter of a powerful attorney, Becca was hard-working, accomplished, and ambitious. Now, while the town reels with grief and shocked residents gather to share their theories, the police are baffled.

At first, investigative reporter Kelsey Castle thinks of the assignment as a fluff piece. But the savagery of the crime, and the determined efforts to keep the case quiet, all hint at something far more than a random attack by a stranger. As Kelsey digs deeper, pushing on despite danger and warnings, she feels a growing connection to the dead girl. And the more she learns about Becca’s friendships, her love life—and the secrets she was keeping—the more convinced she becomes that learning the truth about Becca could be the key to overcoming her own dark past…

4.5 Stars, < 100 reviews

Goodreads Rating

4.3 stars, > 100 reviews

Author’s Description

Same as Amazon Description

One Writer’s Rocky Road to Publication (Writers’ Digest)