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by Charlie Donlea

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“A gem of a mystery, fast-paced and suspenseful.”—Catherine Coulter, # 1 New York Times bestselling author

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…

Advance Praise for Summit Lake

“An exciting debut, with all the right touches, captivating from the first page to the last.  There’s a bright future ahead for this newcomer to the thriller genre — definitely a talent to watch.”—Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author

“Gripping! This one kept me up late into the night.”—Nancy Bush, New York Times bestselling author

“A swift, outstanding debut. Summit Lake engrossed me then knocked me cold. Charlie Donlea is a superb storyteller sure to damage the best seller lists.”—Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author

“Summit Lake makes a small town come alive through the lens of madness, misunderstandings, betrayal, and a pile of the kind of secrets that makes a mystery of a life so hard to untangle from its death. The pages fly by, zinging through the twists and revelations, all the way to the shattering conclusion.”—Jamie Mason

“A brilliant, haunting thriller in which The Lovely Bones meets The Silence of the Lambs—with a bit of Twin Peaks thrown in for good measure! Charlie Donlea weaves a unique, spellbinding tale about a bond between two fascinating women—one living, one dead. Full of unexpected twists and turns, Summit Lake is an irresistible page-turner.”—Kevin O’Brien, New York Times bestselling author

“Grabs you from the very start and doesn’t let go! This gripping thriller keeps you at the edge of your seat and gasping in all the right places. Donlea spins a perfectly crafted story of two women, both victims of violent crime, searching for justice, redemption and ultimately—peace. You won’t be able to put this book down until you’ve uncovered all the secrets hidden inside the picturesque town of Summit Lake.”—Emily Bleeker

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Horrible things happen in Conlea’s uneven debut, starting with the murder of first-year law student Becca Eckersley in her family’s stilt house in the Blue Ridge Mountains tourist town of Summit Lake, N.C. Penn Courtney, the editor of Events Magazine, assigns reporter Kelsey Castle to dig into the story, which is starting to receive national attention. Penn’s ulterior motive is to allow Kelsey additional time to recover from a recent trauma. Despite the Eckersley family’s efforts to obfuscate matters, Kelsey explores Becca’s history, including her bonds with three fellow students and a faculty member at George Washington University. Refreshingly, Kelsey stresses repeatedly that she isn’t trying to solve the murder or get in the way of the professionals assigned to do so. Most of the other people involved, however, take a detached, almost academic approach toward the case. The reader gets little sense that anyone is mourning Becca. Agent: Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency. (Feb.)

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