Charlie Donlea books in order
Charlie Donlea is a USA Today and #1 International bestselling author of mystery and thriller books.
He is known for writing the bestselling Summit Lake (2016), The Girl Who Was Taken (2017), Don't Believe It (2018), Twenty Years Later (2021), and many more.
Unlike many authors who developed a passion for books from their childhood years, Charlie was a late bloomer, as he read his first novel, John Grisham’s The Firm, at the age of twenty.
Keen about writing since, Charlie has written several thrillers which have been translated into 20 languages across nearly 40 countries.
Charlie currently lives in Chicago with his beloved wife and two children.
Genres: Mystery, Thriller
- Summit Lake (2016)
- The Girl Who Was Taken (2017)
- Don't Believe It (2018)
- Twenty Years Later (2021)
- Those Empty Eyes (2023)
- Long Time Gone (2024)
Rory Moore / Lane Phillips
- Some Choose Darkness (2019)
- The Suicide House (2020)
Detailed book overview
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 North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains, is that kind of place. But two weeks ago, Becca Eckersley, a first-year law student and daughter of a powerful attorney, was brutally murdered there. Now the town is reeling with grief, and 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 efforts to keep it quiet, hint at something far more sinister than a random attack by a stranger. As Kelsey digs deeper, 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 her secrets—the more convinced she becomes that walking in Becca’s footsteps could lead her out of her own dark past…
Two abducted girls—one who returns, one who doesn't.
The night they go missing, high school seniors Nicole Cutty and Megan McDonald are at a beach party in their small town of Emerson Bay, North Carolina. Police launch a massive search, but hope is almost lost--until Megan escapes from a bunker deep in the woods...A year later, the bestselling account of her ordeal has made Megan a celebrity. It's a triumphant story, except for one inconvenient detail: Nicole is still missing.
Nicole's older sister, Livia, a fellow in forensic pathology, expects that one day soon Nicole's body will be found and her sister's fate determined. Instead, the first clue comes from another body--that of a young man connected to Nicole's past. Livia reaches out to Megan to learn more about that fateful night. Other girls have disappeared, and she's increasingly sure the cases are connected.
Megan knows more than she revealed in her book. Flashes of memory are pointing to something more monstrous than she described. And the deeper she and Livia dig, the more they realize that sometimes true terror lies in finding exactly what you've been looking for...
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 must-see TV—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 overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case.
Delving into Grace’s past, Sidney peels away layer after layer of deception. But as she edges closer to the real heart of the story, Sidney must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life.
Hiding her own dark past in plain sight, a TV reporter is determined to uncover the truth behind a gruesome murder decades after the investigation was abandoned. But TWENTY YEARS LATER, to understand the present, you need to listen to the past…
Avery Mason, host of American Events, knows the subjects that grab a TV audience’s attention. Her latest story—a murder mystery laced with kinky sex, tragedy, and betrayal—is guaranteed to be ratings gold. New DNA technology has allowed the New York medical examiner’s office to make its first successful identification of a 9/11 victim in years. The twist: the victim, Victoria Ford, had been accused of the gruesome murder of her married lover. In a chilling last phone call to her sister, Victoria begged her to prove her innocence.
Emma Kind has waited twenty years to put her sister to rest, but closure won’t be complete until she can clear Victoria’s name. Alone she’s had no luck, but she’s convinced that Avery’s connections and fame will help. Avery, hoping to negotiate a more lucrative network contract, goes into investigative overdrive. Victoria had been having an affair with a successful novelist, found hanging from the balcony of his Catskills mansion. The rope, the bedroom, and the entire crime scene was covered in Victoria’s DNA.
But the twisted puzzle of Victoria’s private life is just the beginning. And what Avery doesn't realize is that there are other players in the game who are interested in Avery’s own secret past—one she has kept hidden from both the network executives and her television audience. A secret she thought was dead and buried . . .
Accused of a brutal murder, Victoria Ford made a final chilling call from the North Tower on the morning of 9/11. Twenty years ago, no one listened. Today, you will.
You know her name. You know her face.
You know THOSE EYES…
Ten years after she was exonerated for murdering her entire family, the girl the tabloids called “Empty Eyes” is the only one looking for the truth in this propulsive thriller from internationally bestselling author Charlie Donlea.
Alex Armstrong has changed everything about herself—her name, her appearance, her backstory. She’s no longer the terrified teenager a rapt audience saw on television, emerging in handcuffs from the quiet suburban home the night her family was massacred. That girl, Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, was accused of the killings, fought to clear her name, and later took the stand during her highly publicized defamation lawsuit that captured the attention of the nation.
It’s been ten years since, and Alex hasn’t stopped searching for answers about the night her family was killed, even as she continues to hide her real identity from true crime fanatics and grasping reporters still desperate to locate her. As a legal investigator, she works tirelessly to secure justice for others, too. People like Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister.
Laura was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus. Alex believes Matthew is innocent, and unearths stunning revelations about the university’s faculty, fraternity members, and powerful parents willing to do anything to protect their children.
Most shocking of all—as Alex digs into Laura’s disappearance, she realizes there are connections to the murder of her own family. For as different as the crimes may seem, they each hinge on one sinister truth: no one is quite who they seem to be . . .
Thirty years ago, Baby Charlotte vanished. Today, she’s still in danger.
When Dr. Sloan Hastings submits her DNA to an online genealogy site for a research assignment, her goal is to better understand the treasure-trove of genetic information contained on ancestry websites. Brilliant and driven, Sloan is embarking on a fellowship in forensic pathology, training under the renowned Dr. Livia Cutty.
Sloan has one reservation about involving herself in the experiment: she’s adopted. Grateful for a loving home, she’s never considered tracking down her biological parents. The results of her search are shocking. Sloan’s DNA profile suggests her true identity is that of Charlotte Margolis, aka “Baby Charlotte”, who captured the nation’s attention when she mysteriously disappeared, along with her parents, in July 1995. Despite an exhaustive search, the family was never seen again, and no suspects were named in the case.
Sloan’s discovery leads her to the small town of Cedar Creek, Nevada, the site of her disappearance. It also leads her to Sheriff Eric Stamos. The Margolis family’s influence and power permeate every corner of Harrison County, and Eric is convinced that in learning the truth about her past, Sloan can also help discover what happened to Eric’s father, who died under suspicious circumstances soon after he started investigating the case of her disappearance.
Slowly, over the course of a stifling summer, Sloan begins getting to know her relatives. Though initially welcoming, the Margolis family is also mysterious and tight-lipped. Not everyone seems happy about Sloan’s return, or the questions she’s asking. And the more she and Eric learn, the more apparent it becomes that the answers they both seek are buried in a graveyard of Margolis family secrets that some will do anything to keep hidden—no matter who else has to die…
Rory Moore / Lane Phillips
Sometimes deadly secrets hide in plain sight . . .
Forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore sheds light on cold-case homicides by piecing together crime scene details others fail to see. Cleaning out her late father’s law office after his burial, she receives a call that plunges her into a decades-old case . . .
In the summer of 1979, five Chicago women went missing. The predator, nicknamed The Thief, left no bodies or clues behind—until police received a package from a mysterious woman named Angela Mitchell, whose unorthodox investigations appeared to unmask the killer. Then Angela disappeared without a trace. Forty years later, The Thief is about to be paroled for Angela’s murder. But the cryptic file Rory finds in her father’s law office suggests there is more to the case.
Making one startling discovery after another, Rory becomes helplessly entangled in the enigma of Angela Mitchell and what happened to her. As she continues to dig, even Rory can’t be prepared for the full, terrifying truth that is emerging . . .
NB: This book is also known as The Woman in Darkness.
Forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore and her psychologist partner Lane Phillips investigate the Westmount Prep Slaughters--and the bizarre string of survivor suicides that follow.
Inside the walls of Indiana's elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont's students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don't let your candle go out--unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you...
One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house--to kill themselves.
Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn't ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win--or to survive...