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Summit Lake

Summit Lake

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Summit Lake

valoraciones:
4.5/5 (12 valoraciones)
Longitud:
345 página
5 horas
Editorial:
Publicado:
Mar 28, 2017
ISBN:
9780786041428
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

When a law student is murdered in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a report uncovers a dark double life in this “gem of a mystery, fast-paced and suspenseful” (Catherine Coulter, # 1 New York Times–bestselling author).
 
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Summit Lake seems too pristine for violent crime. But two weeks ago, law student Becca Eckersley was murdered in one of its quaint lakefront houses. The daughter of a powerful attorney, Becca was ambitious, hard-working, and beloved. And, while the town reels with grief, the police are without a suspect.
 
To investigative reporter Kelsey Castle, the savagery of the crime, and the determined efforts to keep the case quiet, all hint at something far more sinister than a random attack. Digging deeper despite warnings and danger, Kesley begins to feel a 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.
Editorial:
Publicado:
Mar 28, 2017
ISBN:
9780786041428
Formato:
Libro

Sobre el autor

USA Today bestselling author Charlie Donlea was born and raised in Chicago. He now lives in the suburbs with his wife and two young children. Readers can find him online at charliedonlea.com.

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Summit Lake - Charlie Donlea

Roses"

PART I

THE MORNING FALLS

CHAPTER 1

Becca Eckersley

Summit Lake

February 17, 2012

The night of her death

The winter night sucked the sky black by the time she left the cafe. She walked the dark streets of Summit Lake and pulled her scarf tight against the cold. It felt good to finally tell someone. It made it real. Spilling her secret relieved the pressure from a long-held burden, and Becca Eckersley relaxed a bit. She finally believed it would all work out.

When she reached the lake, the dock creaked under her feet until she stepped onto the wraparound deck of her parents’ stilt house. Carefree and liberated after her time at Millie’s Coffee House, Becca never felt his presence. Didn’t notice him in the shadows, hidden under the cover of darkness. She keyed the side door to the mudroom and locked it behind her, then undraped her scarf and slipped out of her heavy coat. She set the alarm and headed to the bathroom where she climbed under the hot flow of water and let the stress drain from her body. It was a test run, her coffeehouse confession. Practice. She’d kept too many secrets over the last year, this being the biggest and most foolish of them all. The others could be blamed on youth, chalked up to inexperience. But hiding this last part of her life was pure immaturity, explained only by fear and naïveté. The relief she felt from finally telling someone confirmed her decision. Her parents needed to know. It was time.

Exhausted from law school and the frantic pace of her life, it was easy to imagine crawling under the covers and sleeping until morning. But she came to Summit Lake to get her work done. To get back on track. Sleeping was not an option. She took ten minutes to blow-dry her hair and climb into comfortable sweats and thick wool socks. At the kitchen island she turned on her iPod, pulled out her textbook, notes, and laptop, and got to work.

Earlier, the shower and hair dryer had washed out the noise of the door handle rattling from outside and the two strong shoulder thrusts testing the strength of the deadbolt. But now, after an hour of Constitutional Law, Becca heard it. A rattle or vibration at the door. She turned down the iPod and listened. A half a minute of silence passed, then a loud rap at the door. Three loud knuckle-to-wood claps that startled her. She checked her watch and froze with anticipation, knowing he wasn’t supposed to arrive until tomorrow. Unless he was surprising her, which he was known to do.

Becca ran to the mudroom door and pulled the curtains to the side. What she saw confused her, and in that confusion her thoughts ran sideways. Excitement filled her gut and emotion stirred her heart, and with so much clouding her mind, no single thought shouted loud enough to give her pause. Tears welled in her eyes and a smile came to her face. She punched the code on the alarm system, bringing the red light to green, then released the deadbolt and twisted the handle. She was surprised when he forced the door open and, like built-up water against a bulkhead, pushed and slid into the mudroom. More surprising still was his aggression. Unprepared for the onslaught he threw at her, she felt her heels skid and drag across the tile floor until he slammed her against the wall. Clutching her shoulders, then a fistful of hair at the base of her skull, he wrestled her through the mudroom and into the kitchen. Panic wiped her mind blank—all the ideas and images there just seconds before, erased now—allowing her primitive instincts to take over. Becca Eckersley fought for her life.

The violent flurry continued through the kitchen, Becca grasping and kicking at anything that might help her. She saw her textbook and laptop scatter to the floor as her wool-stockinged feet struggled for traction on the cold tile. As he jerked her through the room, Becca’s legs frantically scissored back and forth. A wild kick met the kitchen hutch, sending dishes shattering across the floor. With the chaos in the kitchen still settling—bowls rolling, stools bouncing—she felt the carpet of the family room under her feet. It gave her leverage and Becca used every bit of it to pull away from his grip, but her resistance only fueled her attacker’s rage. He wrenched her head backward, ripping a clump of hair from her scalp and sending her into a free fall. When she landed, Becca felt her head crack against the wood frame of the couch as he heaved himself on top of her. The pain in her head vibrated down her spine. Her vision blurred and the noise of the world began to fade, until his ice-cold hands thrust into her sweatpants. This snapped her back to consciousness. As the weight of his body pinned her down, she punched and clawed until her knuckles broke and her nails became thick with skin and blood.

When she felt her underwear rip away, she screamed a piercing, shrill cry. But it lasted only a few seconds, until his hands found her throat and crushed her voice into raspy gasps. He was vicious and possessed as he silenced her, his hands clamping with a powerful rage around her neck. She sucked for air, but it would not come, and soon her arms fell like deflated balloons to her sides. And though her body could no longer respond to the panicked calls from her mind, she still resisted by never breaking eye contact with him. Until her vision faded like her voice.

Broken and bleeding, she lay there, her chest barely rising with shallow breaths. She drifted in and out, waking each time he brutalized her in angry, violent waves. It went on for an eternity before he left her. Before he fled through the sliding glass door of the family room, leaving it wide open and allowing the cold night air to fill the room and creep over her naked body. Becca’s eyelids fell to slivers. All that was left now was white halogen glowing in the doorframe, bright against the dark night. Becca lay motionless, unable to blink or look away had the desire come to her. It did not. She was strangely content in her paralysis. Tears slid down her cheeks and climbed the curve of her earlobes before dripping silently to the floor. The worst was over. The pain was gone. His fists no longer pummeled her, and her throat was finally free from his crushing grip. His hot breath gone from her face, he was no longer on top of her, and his absence was all the freedom she wanted.

On the floor with her legs splayed and arms like two broken tree limbs attached to her sides, she faced the wide-open patio door. The lighthouse in the distance—with its bright beacon calling out to lost boats in the night—was all she knew and all she needed. It was life and she clung to its swaying image.

Far away a siren bounced through the night, low at first, then gathering strength. Help was coming, although she knew it was too late. Still, she welcomed the siren and the aid it would bring. It was not herself she was hoping to save.

CHAPTER 2

Kelsey Castle

Events Magazine

March 1, 2012

Two weeks after Becca’s death

Kelsey Castle’s return to work was quiet and without ceremony, just the way she wanted it. She parked in the rear lot so no one would notice her car, and rather than risk the elevator she snuck in the backdoor and climbed the stairs. Early still, most of the staff was battling rush hour or snoozing the alarm clock. She couldn’t stay invisible forever. She would have to talk to someone. But Kelsey hoped to keep her office door closed and play catch-up for a few hours, uninterrupted by sad smiles and how-are-you stares.

The cubicles were empty when she poked her head out of the stairway. In a smooth stroll she walked the hallway, keeping her eyes set on her office door—a racehorse with blinders. The door to her editor’s office was open with lights blazing. Kelsey knew she wouldn’t beat him to the office, never did. After a few more steps she reached her office, slithered through the door, and quickly shut it behind her.

What are you doing here? Penn Courtney asked with a look of disapproval. You’re not supposed to be back for two more weeks. He was sitting on her couch, feet on the coffee table, paging through drafts of articles that would run in this week’s edition.

Kelsey took a deep breath as she turned from her closed door. Why are you in my office? Whenever you need something, you wait in my office.

Good to see you, too.

Kelsey walked to her desk and dropped her purse in the bottom drawer. Sorry. She took another deep breath and smiled. Good to see you, too, Penn. And thanks for everything you’ve done for me. You’re a good friend.

You’re welcome. He paused a moment before continuing. How you doing?

Good God, right through the gates and I get it. We talked about this already. I don’t want everyone running around here asking me how I am every minute of the day.

Hence the stealth return before the troops arrive? Let me guess, you took the stairs.

I need the exercise.

And parked in the back lot?

She just stared at him.

You can’t hide from everyone. People are concerned about you.

I get that. I just don’t want all the mushy stuff, you know?

Penn waved his hand. Won’t ask again. He organized the papers in front of him in neat stacks to keep his hands busy. But really, what are you doing here?

I’m stir-crazy at home, so six weeks isn’t going to work. I made it a month, that’s all I can take. So back to my original question, why are you in my office?

Penn stood from the couch, a stack of papers in his hands, and walked to the front of her desk. I was going to do this in two weeks, but I guess I can ask you now.

Kelsey sat behind her desk. The computer screen already captured her attention as she scrolled through e-mails. Look at all these e-mails. Hundreds. See? This is why I wanted to do some work from home.

Forget the e-mails, Penn said. They’re all junk. He let her read for a minute before he continued. Have you ever heard of Summit Lake?

No, what is it?

A little town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Quaint. Cozy. Lots of out-of-towners who spend time at their weekend homes. Water sports when it’s warm, ski trails and snowmobiling when it’s cold.

Kelsey glanced at him, then back to her computer. You need any Propecia? There are about fifty e-mails here that hock it.

Penn ran a hand over his smooth scalp. I think it’s too late for that.

Viagra? Do these idiots know I’m a woman? Yeah, most of these are junk.

I want you to go there, Penn said, dropping the pages on her desk.

Kelsey stopped scrolling. Her eyes moved from her computer screen to the dropped pages and then up to her editor’s eyes. Go where?

Summit Lake.

For what?

A story.

Don’t start this, Penn. I just told you.

I’m not starting anything. There’s a story there and I want you on it.

What story could possibly be in a tiny tourist town?

An important one.

Terrible answer, she said. You’re getting rid of me because you don’t think I’m ready to come back.

That’s not true. He paused. I’m getting rid of you because I think you need it.

Dammit, Penn! Kelsey stood up also. Is this how it’s going to be from now on? Tiptoeing around me like I’m a porcelain doll, giving me fluff pieces and sending me on vacations because you don’t think I can handle my job?

To be honest, no, I don’t think you can handle your job right now. No, I don’t think you should come back so soon. And, no, this is not how it’s going to be from now on. Penn lowered his voice, put his palms on her desk, and leaned closer, looking straight into her eyes. Twice her age, with two sons and a successful vasectomy, Kelsey Castle was the closest thing he’d ever have to a daughter. "But this is how it’s going to be right now. There’s a story in Summit Lake. I want you to track it down. Is it an accident the town has a gorgeous view of the mountains and a beautiful blue lake? No. Would the magazine normally set you up in a five-star hotel with all expenses paid? Hell no. But I own the damn magazine, you helped build the magazine, and I want this story done right. I’m sending you to Summit Lake for as long as it takes to figure it out." Penn sat in a chair in front of Kelsey’s desk and exhaled a long, calming breath.

Kelsey closed her eyes and fell into her own chair. Figure what out? What’s the story?

A dead girl.

She raised her eyebrows, stared at him with her big, brown eyes. Go on.

"It’s the only recorded homicide in the history of Summit Lake, and currently a big deal up there. Happened a couple of weeks ago, and it’s starting to make national headlines. The girl’s dad is a prominent attorney. Family is wealthy. Police have no leads yet. No suspects. No persons of interest. Just a girl who was alive one day and dead the next. Something’s not adding up. I want you to rattle some cages and poke around. Find what everyone else is missing. Then give me an article that people want to read. I want to plaster this poor girl’s face on the cover of Events, not just with a story about her death, but with the truth. And I want to do it before the other vultures pick up the scent and descend on Summit Lake. Once that small town fills with reporters and tabloids, no one’s going to talk."

Kelsey pulled the pages Penn dropped on her desk and skimmed through them. Not as fluffy as I thought.

Penn made an ugly face. Do you think I’d send my best crime reporter to write about cute shops and galleries? He stood up. Take a couple days here to do your research, then off you go. Find out if there’s a story up there, and if there is, write the hell out of it. And I don’t expect you back anytime soon. I want this for the May edition. That means even if you get this story straight the day you arrive, you’ve got the hotel for a month.

Kelsey smiled. Thanks, Penn.

CHAPTER 3

Becca Eckersley

George Washington University

November 30, 2010

Fourteen months before her death

In the recesses of the George Washington University library, Becca Eckersley sat with her three friends. Desk lamps illuminated their table, brightening textbooks and papers, and highlighting their faces in the otherwise darkened space. Three years earlier, she arrived on campus with no high school friends, but Becca found no problems adjusting to college. Freshman year she roomed with Gail Moss, and the two quickly became friends. Becca and Gail, together with their two guy friends—Jack and Brad—were all headed for law school. They studied together regularly and made an unusual foursome.

People say it all the time, Gail said.

What people? Brad asked. Who talks about us so much?

I don’t know, Gail said. Just other kids. I’ve heard girls talk.

And what’s their problem?

They just think we’re weird.

Who cares what they think? Brad said. Seriously, this is all in your head.

It’s not in my head, Gail said. Okay, I’ll just put it out there and ask the question. Why are we friends?

What do you mean? Becca asked. Because we like each other. We all get along, have things in common. That’s why anyone becomes friends.

She means the sex, or lack of it, between us, Brad said. She’s just too shy to phrase it that way. He looked at Gail. You better figure out a way to express yourself more clearly if you want to be a litigator.

Fine, Gail said, closing her eyes momentarily to avoid eye contact. Does anyone think it’s odd that we’ve been friends since freshman year and there’s been no hookups, no sleeping around, no drama?

You had a boyfriend for the first year we knew you, Jack said. What was his name?

Gene.

Jack laughed and pointed at Gail. That’s right. Euge. I loved that guy. Sort of a tool, but in a geeky, cool kind of way.

Brad laughed also. I forgot about that guy. He hated when we called him Euge. ‘It’s just Gene’ he kept saying. Remember that weekend?

Becca laughed now, too. The ‘Just Gene’ weekend. Oh my God, that seems like more than three years ago.

Gail tried not to smile. Yeah, very amusing. He never came back to DC after that weekend, anyone notice that?

He broke up with you a few weeks later, didn’t he? Jack asked.

Yes, because of that weekend.

Come on, Jack said. Because we called him Euge?

Forget it, Gail said. My point is that our little foursome here is unique. Two girls, two guys—all best friends, in college, without any of the crazy stuff to mess it up.

Jack closed his Business Law textbook. He patted Brad on the back. Brad here will be the most powerful senator in Congress, you two will be schmuck lawyers working for him, I’ll be a lobbyist getting him all his money, and we’ll all still be best friends. Who cares why, and who cares if other people don’t understand? He threw his books into his backpack. I’ve had enough for tonight. Let’s get a beer at the 19th.

Amen, Brad said.

They packed their things and stood to leave. Becca stared at Jack. No one’s worried about Professor Morton’s final? she asked.

I’m worried, Jack said. But I’m on the slow infusion process, which allows my brain to absorb his terribly boring and abstract lectures in small spoonfuls. If I cram it all in, most of it ends up seeping out.

Yeah, Becca said. That’s a great plan for someone who’s kept up with the readings all semester. But for the rest of us, we’ll need to cram. You guys go without us, Gail and I are staying.

Come on, Jack said. Don’t be lame.

Finals are in two weeks, Becca said.

Call it quits for tonight and we’ll put in extra time tomorrow, Jack said.

Brad stood up and lifted his hands. Boys and girls, Bradley Jefferson Reynolds has you covered. This was supposed to be a surprise, but I can see you all need to know now. I will have for us, by next week, a copy of Professor Morton’s Business Law final exam. To be used and abused as you all see fit.

Becca pursed her lips. Bullshit.

No bullshit, Brad said. I have a source, and that’s all I can say for now. So let’s all have a beer to celebrate.

Becca looked at Jack, who shrugged his shoulders. Who are we to doubt this guy? he said.

She reluctantly packed her things and looked at Gail. This’ll be like the time he promised everyone full-length essays for the Asian History exam freshman year and we were up until 5:00 a.m. finishing things for him when he ‘hit a wall.’ She flexed her fingers to make quotation marks while looking at Brad. Remember that?

This is different, Brad said.

Sure it is. Becca threw her bag over her shoulder and grabbed Brad by the inside of the bicep, resting her head on his shoulder as they walked out of the library. But I’ll still love you when you don’t come through. Even though I’ll have a C to tarnish my transcripts.

Brad patted her head as they walked. No Ivy League law school will accept you with a C on your transcript. Looks like I’ll have to come through for you.

The 19th Bar in Washington’s Foggy Bottom neighborhood held the normal crowd for a Tuesday night, overflowing with college students in the peak of their existence. Most came from wealthy East Coast families and had plans for political careers or law. Some wanted other things, but they were outnumbered.

They found an empty table near the front window, a floor-to-ceiling pane of glass that allowed passersby to look in with envy and see the lives of college kids on the way to stardom. They ordered draught beers and fell into their common routine of debating politics. After a few beers, Brad began his well-practiced, curse-riddled speech about there never having been a U.S. president who truly ran on his principles and then governed the same way.

They always fall prey to the politics of Washington, always give in to special interests. Can anyone name a president who really had the citizens in mind during the majority of his decisions in office? None of them did, and the current one doesn’t either. It’s all about power, keeping power, and dishing out power to those who throw the most money at them.

You tell ’em, Bradley, Becca said. And you’re going to put an end to it all, right?

Or die trying. And I’ll start with the crooked son of a bitch who calls himself my father. He took a sip of beer. As soon as I have the credentials.

I’d build some contacts and support before you go after your own father. Or tort law in general.

Good idea, Brad said, pointing at Becca and then sloshing another sip of beer like he was in an Irish pub about to arm wrestle. He ran his forearm across his mouth dramatically and stared off at the ceiling. The others were laughing now at the show. It’s gotta come out of right field, totally unsuspected. Yeah, I’ll build a coalition and when the old man thinks he’s got things covered, I’ll take him down like Giuliani tackling the Teflon Don.

Not even accepted to an accredited law school yet and this guy’s comparing himself to Giuliani. Jack laughed. Love your confidence.

Becca and her friends loved Brad’s tirades. Jack and Gail listened for entertainment value, but Becca had a keener ear. She knew Brad best. She knew his secrets and his desires and his struggles. She understood his opinions were born out of rebellion. An oppressive father, who amassed a fortune running one of the biggest tort law offices on the East Coast, had tried too hard to steer his son’s life in a direction Brad did not want to go. In a mixture of feigned surrender and secret revenge, Brad agreed to an education at George Washington University and would soon endure an Ivy League law degree. But instead of joining his father in thievery, as Brad put it, he would use the degree and education his father paid for to go after tort law, and one day shut his father down. So the plan went, anyway.

In the three years they knew each other, Becca had met Brad’s father on a number of occasions. Becca’s father knew him, too. Their dads had a professional relationship, with Brad’s father hosting an annual weekend at the Reynoldses’ hunting cabin where a dozen rich lawyers shot elk, smoked cigars, and talked business. Becca’s father was invited the year before, and came home with stories about Mr. Reynolds being a true ballbuster. A cold, hard man who pushed his children in unhealthy ways, Becca never had difficulty understanding Brad’s resentment. As punishment for his father’s absenteeism from little league tournaments and soccer practices and Orioles games and anything in high school besides brief appearances at debates to let his son know his deficiencies, Brad decided to use his father’s will against him. It was an insidious plan that would take years to accomplish, and if it ever came to fruition—if Brad’s resentment didn’t fade with

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  • (4/5)
    Summit Lake is an extremely well written debut. A clever mix of past and present with several points of view. It was hard to put this down because the mystery surrounding Becca's murder drew you in and reading about the months leading up to her death was fascinating. The way the author created a connection between the victim and the reporter investigating the victim's death was also cleverly done. I was surprised when the killer was revealed and have to admit my first reaction was that I felt a bit cheated, but it all made sense and was completely believable so I could then quite happily go with it.The only thing I found difficult to believe was the ease with which the reporter managed to get her information and persuade professionals to aid her in her investigation.Still, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this and would definitely read more books by Charlie Donlea. Highly recommended for fans of suspenseful mysteries or crime fiction in general.I received an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
  • (4/5)
    I felt bad that I had to read this book even faster than I normally would since I had return it back to the library along with quite a few others. Still, I enjoyed this book and was glad I had a chance to read it. Becca is brutally attacked in the beginning of the story. The story then starts about a year back and gradually brings us along with her as she begins her journey with her destiny. Kelsey is a reporter who has been out on leave after an attack while running. Her boss sends her to Summit Lake to write the story about Becca. He thinks it will be an easy piece to write in a beautiful lake area so that she can continue her recovery. Well, we know that's not going to happen, don't we? The case is being handled by the state investigators and the evidence that is usually public has been hidden and no one is talking. Very good debut novel.
  • (5/5)
    Excellent debut from Charlie Donlea! I can't believe this book slipped past my "new releases" radar until now. I flew through this story, was totally absorbed in it, loved it. Kelsey Castle is a crime reporter who's sent on assignment to a North Carolina mountain town called Summit Lake. This usually idyllic place has had its first murder. The victim, Becca Eckersley, is a promising law student and daughter of a powerful attorney. Kelsey believes the police are going in the wrong direction, possibly trying to cover up what really happened, and she's determined to find the truth.The story alternates between Becca's POV in the months leading up to her murder, and Kelsey's POV a couple of weeks after the crime. The plot was suspenseful and well-constructed. I enjoyed trying to piece together the puzzle, and the twist at the end was awesome. My only complaint was that I thought Kelsey came by the official evidence (police/medical reports) too easily.I'd highly recommend SUMMIT LAKE to fans of mystery and crime novels. Dark and haunting.
  • (3/5)
    A journalist recovering from her own personal trauma is assigned to look into the murder of a young law student in a mountain resort town. Despite being a complete stranger in an insular small town, being unable to interview any family or friends of the victim, and evidence of a clear cover-up and whitewashing of the event by the state and federal law enforcement, this journalist is somehow able to obtain a copy of the entire police file, access to the complete autopsy report, and the victim's private diary. Said journalist solves the case and in doing so brings closure to herself.It's not that this is a bad book, it's just aggressively average. There are a couple of places where the author goes for a "shocking twist!" but they are telegraphed so far in advance that even I, who never figures out whodunit, figured out whodunit. On the other hand, it's a quick read and there's nothing overtly offensive or cloying about the writing. Approached with the appropriate level of expectation, a reader will probably enjoy it.
  • (5/5)
    I don't even know where to start - it was AWESOME!!! One of my favorite books that I read this year. So glad I decided to read it, I couldn't put it down. The book opens with Becca's death, which was horrible and brutal. You get all the details except who killed her. Then the book alternates between the time leading up to Becca's death and Kelsey investigating Becca's murder for an article she is writing. Not until the very end do you find out the identity of the killer and I was SHOCKED!!! I had no idea. Honestly, I had two people in mind for the killer and I was not even close. The book had me hooked from the first page and until the very end. I was right their with Kelsey wanting to discover why Becca's murder was being covered up.Thanks to NetGalley, Kensington Books and the author, Charlie Donlea, for a free electronic ARC of this novel. It was a wonderful read and can't wait for the author's next book!!.
  • (5/5)
    A special thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. T O P - N O T C H ! 5 Stars + Debut? If this is a debut, can only imagine what is to come. OK, I have a pretty good track record, predicting Top Books and those inspired for film. Reading 400-500 books a year, certain show-stopper's stand out. Remember: You read it here: This well-written psychological crime suspense mystery thriller has "bestseller/the big screen" written all over it. SUMMIT LAKE by talented new author, Charlie Donlea, is destined to be in line for "The Best Debut of 2016." "Charlie, I hope you have given up your day job, and busy writing your next installment of Kelsey Castle." Many more stories here, waiting to be uncovered, (hoping for a series); sure your fingers are tapping away. Set in the Western North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains in a small upscale weekenders’ lake hideaway idyllic area, we learn of a brutal murder of law student, Becca Eckersley in 2012. Her wealthy parents reside in Greensboro, NC Piedmont Triad area, well-connected and father a prominent attorney—one of their many weekend second homes. As the novel opens we learn of the brutal murder which shakes the small tourist town. We flash back and forth from fourteen months earlier with Becca, and her college life at George Washington University. We meet a series of Becca's college friends. Guy friends, a secret lover, a former relationship with a professor, and an old high school fling. They await college acceptance letters from the top Ivy League schools. From college stresses of grades, cheating to pass, obsessions, their future careers, aspirations, secrets, loves, and pressure of hi-profile parents….readers relive the months leading up to the tragic event.We also meet Kelsey Castle, a crime investigative reporter and author, from Miami, FL at Events Magazine, recuperating from her own tragic event. Her boss sends her to the small tourist town for some R&R, for a fluff story. Little does he know, what is in store and what Kelsey will find, as she begins her investigation. She is obsessed with finding answers for Becca, a young woman with a bright future, cut short. More secrets unfold. She feels a connection and will use all her resources to find out the identity of the killer. For justice. The murder has to be someone the girl knew--no signs of intrusion. Limited clues. The authorities are of little help. Someone is hiding information. Donlea, slowly peels back the layers, giving nothing away; flashing between the present with Kelsey, and Becca’s past, as we get closer to the day of the murder. Everyone has a secret. The investigation is mysterious and due to the parent’s wanting to keep things private, there is not a lot of information. Kelsey has to use all her creative reporting skills putting her in harm’s way. With the help of some new found local special friends, she tries desperately to piece together the mystery. Who killed Becca Eckersley? A girl with so many hidden secrets. Who would want to kill her and why? An intense haunting mystery. There are so many suspects. What compounds the intriguing crime mystery is the dark lurking psychological aspect. The secrets thoughts and obsessions of a killer. With twists and turns and many surprises, the identity of the killer will not be revealed until the end.In addition to the well-written and crafted debut, vivid settings, and descriptions--the human dynamics, with the powerful parallel story line of Kelsey. My favorite characters: Jack, Peter, Rae, and Kelsey. An irresistible page-turner—you will not be able to put it down, grabbing you from page one, to the "hold your breath" last page. Dying to do a Q&A with the author, for more about this fresh unique, intriguing mystery. The inspiration, the setting, characters, the parallel stories, etc. My favorite genre; for me, three huge familiar connections, true to my heart (S. Florida, Blue Ridge Mountains, and Piedmont-Triad NC areas). You just know when a book will blow you away, from the well-designed book trailer, the description, and the cover. It lives up in every way; as why I pick the "best" for my Featured Weekend Reads. Think: A cross between Mark Edwards, Michael Robotham, and Linwood Barclay authors, always landing on my top book list. I never left my hi-rise South Florida apartment once, this weekend-- gazing over the waterfront view, nerve-racked with intense suspense, glued to this page-turner. Thanks for delivering a fantastic crime mystery thriller, and an added bonus--the setting!Add Summit Lake to your TBR list. Pre-Order Now! Jan, 2016 release. If you have not seen the trailer, a little more temptation: Summit Lake Trailer A gem, not to be missed.
  • (3/5)
    Thought is apropos that I start the new year by finishing a book by a début author. Good start to what should be a promising series. Kelsey Castle, an investigative reporter attempting to overcome a horrible event in her own life, is sent to Summit lake to gather facts on the murder of a first year law student. On the whole this was an interesting read, a good case, and some interesting characters. But there were a few things that just didn't gel for demand some situations like the relationship between Kelsey and Matt just seemed awkward at times. Still a good first effort, the last part of the book very suspenseful so will definitely be looking out for this author's next offering.ARC from Netgalley.
  • (5/5)
    This is a sensitive, impressive reading. It is the story of two women who have had similar experiences. While the young student is dead, the journalist survived the rape and explores the reasons why the student had to die.The chapters alternate. One is told from the perspective of Becca, the student. This story starts in the last college year. The reader gets to know Becca and her friends. The other chapters are from the perspective of journalist Kelsey Castle, who is slowly trying to solve the murder. However, this is rather difficult because the family of the dead has obtained a closure of the files.This book is very excitingly written. Whenever I felt I knew the killer, that assumption vanished.