Book Review: Don’t Believe It, by Charlie Donlea

An investigative reporter creates a ‘live’ documentary, revealing what she finds as she finds it when she attempts to uncover the truth of a 10-year old murder.


If you like detective, murder-mystery type tales this is a must-have. It is told through an investigative reporter’s point of view, giving a recount of her research and notes on a documentary (The Girl of Sugar Beach) being shot in an attempt to bring the truth of a murder to the fore. The murder is ten years old and Grace Sebold, the woman convicted of the murder, sits in prison in St Lucia having maintained her innocence and run out of options to appeal the verdict.

The first few pages paint a picture in words, the murder is depicted in a syrupy yet disturbing fashion before the tone changes and becomes more matter-of-fact. Sydney Ryan is a young, up-and-coming producer, having had success in making online documentaries that tell the stories of incorrectly convicted people.

This story is her first foray into primetime network television and, as she is doing it as a real-time documentary, she promises to reveal what she finds as she finds it. The pieces of information that come from many sources see the reader/viewer forming conclusions and then rethinking them. There is a feeling of something being missed or hidden, and a couple of characters who keep popping up and seem to be irrelevant until they provide glimmers of light that redirect the action being taken. The final puzzle gives an ‘I didn’t see that coming!’ moment.

The cover asks: “An innocent girl denied her freedom? Or a calculating killer with nothing to lose?”. Without giving too much away, neither of these questions have clearly defined answers and as the title and final line of the book reminds you, Don’t Believe It.

A masterful piece of writing and storytelling that you must buy for your collection.

Reviewed by:  Leanne Caune

Rating out of 10:  10

Distributed by: Penguin Random House Australia
Released: April 2018
RRP: $32.99 trade paperback


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