“Summit Lake” by Charlie Donlea – Book Review

With the picturesque setting of a Blue Ridge Mountain, North Carolina town, this suspense debut piqued my interest immediately.

Summit Lake pub

Becca Eckersley, an attractive law school student from a prominent family is murdered in her family’s vacation home on the shores of Summit Lake.  She knew her murderer… she let him in the house willingly.  This is the first murder for the small tourist community and the local police are deemed too inexperienced to handle the murder investigation.  The North Carolina State Police step in at the request of the girl’s powerfully connected father.

Enter Kelsey Castle, a renowned investigative journalist, who at the behest of her magazine’s editor, is sent to find out exactly what happened on the night of Becca’s vicious rape and murder.  His motives are twofold: one is to put his best reporter on the case; the other is to provide Kelsey with some much needed recovery time following her own brutal rape whilst jogging.  With the cooperation of the local police chief, Kelsey begins an investigation that could get her in serious trouble.

The case seems shrouded in secrecy.  People aren’t talking.  Becca’s social media and email accounts have been taken down.  Was Becca harboring a secret?  A secret that someone would do ANYTHING not to be made known?

The short chapters make the pages turn quickly.  The novel is told in two voices, Becca’s in the months before her death; and, Kelsey’s present day meticulous research into her murder.  Through flashbacks we become acquainted with Becca’s college friends.  Her roommate Gail and the two young men they study with and spend all their free time with, Brad and Jack.  As the reader comes to know her better they realize that Becca did indeed have secrets; and she also had several men in her thrall. Did one of these men murder her?

My one problem with the novel:  I questioned why such a pronounced police presence plagued Kelsey.  Sure, her methods were a bit clandestine, but surely not to that extent!  It seemed ‘over the top’.  Not a deal breaker though as it did not hinder my enjoyment of the novel.  I imagine it was just artistic licence on the author’s part…

North Carolina lake

Summit Lake” is the story of a potential-filled life cut short.  It has appealing characters, red herrings, ethical indiscretions, building suspense, and a wonderful and surprising twist at the end. An auspicious debut novel by a promising new novelist that should provide myself and many other readers with some enjoyable reading in the future.  A real page-turner! Recommended!

I am hosting a GIVEAWAY for a print copy of “Summit Lake“!  To enter just leave a comment on this blog between the dates of January 27th and February 12th, 2016.  The winner will be chosen via random.org and will be provided a copy of the novel from Kensington Publishing.

Kensington Publishing provided me with a digital copy of the novel via NetGalley in exchange for my review and participating in the official blog tour for the book.

Charlie Donlea

Charlie Donlea lives in Chicago with his wife and two young children. He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for Summit Lake.

About Fictionophile

Fiction reviewer ; Goodreads librarian. Retired library cataloger - more time to read! Loves books, gardening, and red wine. I have been a reviewer member of NetGalley since October 2013. I review titles offered by Edelweiss, and participate in blog tours with TLC Book Tours.
This entry was posted in Blog Tour, Book Reviews, debut novels, Mystery fiction, NetGalley and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

12 Responses to “Summit Lake” by Charlie Donlea – Book Review

  1. Pingback: “The girl who was taken” by Charlie Donlea | Fictionophile

  2. Suzanne Nagela Isdonas says:

    Ok. I just finished the book and on the last pages Kelsey goes to Beccas house to give the journal and the letter to Beccas parents. There is a line that says, “But when she saw William Eckersley walk up behind his wife, the entire speech leaked from her mind, leaving a giant black void that prevented thought…..no introductions were needed?

    Totally confusing! When did Kelsey meet him? Is he the one that raped her and got away?

    The rest of the novel was great! Just didn’t quite get this part. Please explain 😊


  3. Teresa Whitehead says:

    Very intriguing. I have a plethora of questions going on in my mind that have to be answered and can only be answered by reading the book. Will be added to my “want to read” list.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Leslie says:

    Very interesting! I am interested in this giveaway. Crime fiction is my favourite go-to genre!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Dovile says:

    Thank you for the giveaway!


  6. Great review this sounds right up my street! Nothing better than being hit by a truly surprising twist 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. skyecaitlin says:

    I love the way this book sounds: mysterious and with a trace of Gothicism; lovely photography. I am interested in entering the Giveaway. I really want to read this.


  8. Chris Smith says:

    The basic plot sounds good but I must admit my first thought was to wonder why anyone would think the best way to help a woman recover from her brutal rape would be to task her with looking into a crime involving an even more brutal rape?


    • Fictionophile says:

      Hi Chris,
      To be fair, the editor didn’t at first realize how serious the crime was. He thought he was sending her for a ‘fluff piece’ and some R&R.


    • skyecaitlin says:

      As a form of therapy; taking action; a bond is probably formed between victims of rape, and this may enable to victim to work out her anger, fear and frustration instead of holding it in and dwelling upon it.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s