Book Review

THE SUICIDE HOUSE by Charlie Donlea (Out 7/28/2020)

Thank you to Kensington Publishing Corporation and Bookish First for the complimentary ARC of THE SUICIDE HOUSE by Charlie Donlea (pub date 7/28/2020)!

Publication Date: 7/28/2020

Rating: 4.5 / 5

I loved Charlie Donlea’s SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS last year, so when I saw his new book on Bookish First, I immediately used my points to get a copy even before reading the synopsis! I was therefore very pleased to learn that this was listed as book two in the Rory Moore/Lane Phillips series!

THE SUICIDE HOUSE begins big with a group of kids from Westmont Preparatory High School playing a scary game in an abandoned boarding house, summoning the Man in the Mirror. In the end, two students are brutally killed and a teacher is fingered for the crime, though he is left permanently disabled by a failed attempt to kill himself in front of a train, so he is unable to answer the charges. In the year since this tragedy, two more students who survived that night have returned to the scene of the crime to kill themselves as well. The case has garnered a lot of attention in a true crime blog and a new serial podcast which is attempting to get more answers to what exactly a happened that night.

This book starts off creepy and had me hooked from page one. The author does an excellent job of giving you just enough detail to remain gripped to the pages, but with enough ambiguity to leave a lot of details to uncover as the investigation continues. Psychologist Lane Phillips is hired on by the podcast as a consultant and he in turn brings in forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore who is soon intrigued by the case. I especially enjoyed spending some more time with Rory Moore, a woman on the autism spectrum who has made the characteristics of this label into distinct strengths in her professional life and her hobbies (her doll reconstruction hobby makes a return as well and I again found this fascinating).

The mystery is laid out in alternating time periods, going back to the events surrounding the tragedy in 2019 and laying out the investigation taking place in 2020. Multiple points of view are involved as well in both time periods as the narrative follows students, school personnel, reporters, police and journalists. We also get snippets of the actual podcast itself in the beginning to introduce us to the events of 2019 and the remaining mysteries. All of this works really well to keep the story going at a good pace and I couldn’t help but keep flipping pages!

From the author’s note at the end, I now know that in addition to Lane and Rory, some of the side characters in this novel are also from Donlea’s prior books, but this book is absolutely written to work as a stand alone! I recommend adding this one to your TBR when it releases on 7/28/2020!

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