2020 Reviews · contemporary fiction · crime · mystery · new release · suspense · thriller

New Release Book Review: The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea

Title: The Suicide House

Author: Charlie Donlea

Published: August 4th 2020

Publisher: Penguin Books Australia

Pages: 368

Genres: Fiction, Thriller, Suspense

RRP: $32.99

Rating: 3.5 stars

From the bestselling author of The Girl Who Was Taken and Don’t Believe It comes a riveting twister of a thriller featuring enigmatic cold case expert Rory Moore and famed profiler Lane Phillips.

‘On the other side of that wall are the woods, and in those woods is a forgotten path that leads to the infamous boarding house.’

Beyond the manicured campus of Indiana’s elite Westmont Preparatory School sits an abandoned boarding house, popular among students as a late-night hangout – and recently the scene of a dangerous game gone wrong.

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why three survivors of that terrible night have returned to the house to kill themselves.

Well-known criminal profiler Dr Lane Phillips, hired as an adviser on a popular podcast about the tragedy, knows this is the perfect puzzle for his partner Rory Moore, a forensic reconstructionist with an uncanny ability to spot the details others miss.

But the more Lane and Rory learn about the school and its students, the more convinced they are that the game hasn’t ended. And for its players, there may be no way to win – or to survive . . .


Charlie Donlea is the author of bestselling novels The Girl Who Was Taken and Don’t Believe It, both of which received a solid rating from this reader. The Suicide House represents another gripping read from the crime thriller specialist. With some familiar faces reprising their roles in Donlea’s latest, The Suicide House is a story that could easily be read in one big gulp, it is incredibly addictive.

The Suicide House opens up a brand new crime investigation into a horrific series of events that have taken place at an exclusive school. Behind the perfect veneer of Westmont Preparatory School lies the remnants of a game that took a turn for the very worse. A year ago, two students died in horrific and gruesome circumstances. Although the culprit was found, there are still many unanswered questions around this murder case. Most troubling of this mysterious case is the fact that the survivors of this heinous crime have come back to the murder site to kill themselves. Drawing on the assistance of a well known criminal profiler Lane Phillips and talented forensic reconstructionist Rory Moore, it is hoped that the questions that remain about this complex case can finally be solved. With further insight from an investigative journalist, Lane and Rory attempt to crack this troubling case. But someone is determined to continue the deadly game that has haunted the school. It is up to this astute team to close the book on the renowned suicide house.

The Suicide House is the latest novel from a major figure in the world of suspense writing, Charlie Donlea. The Suicide House marks the third novel I have read by the Chicago based author. I enjoyed many elements of The Suicide House, especially the return of some very familiar and engaging faces. In his back page Author’s Note, Charlie Donlea explains that there are little treasures spread throughout his novels that make links to all of his book releases. While each of Donlea’s five novels can be read independently, those who are fans of his work will enjoy connecting the subtle dots between these page turning stories.

The Suicide House begins and ends to the same beat. The pace is swift and even, taking the reader through a horrific killing spree. With the use of multiple voices, including the viewpoint of the deranged killer, the events of The Suicide House chill to the bone. Donlea also relies on the method of a double timeline to unravel the shocking events of this murder mystery tale. Donlea is skilled in his approach, issuing many possibilities, suspects, motives and red herrings as the reader wades through the murky depths of The Suicide House. The mood remains dark and puzzling throughout as revelations come left, right and centre. Extra additions to the main narrative in the form of journal entries, podcast episodes, articles and flashbacks all combine to form a visionary crime piece. A complex riddle is presented, with vast of array of information and suspect players. The race to solve this case is spine tingling and tense to say the least, but it also offers the reader full entertainment value. I definitely got a kick out of this one!

In terms of characters, it was nice to be reunited with Lane and Rory again. There was definitely a sense of homecoming that came with the appearance of these protagonists and their presence was definitely welcomed. Donlea has populated his novel with an intriguing mix of characters. The periphery cast add substance and further speculation to this baffling mystery, which in turn keeps the reader on their toes from the minute they open The Suicide House. Donlea delivers a baffling and somewhat gruesome reading experience with his new novel, but I think I Don’t Believe It remains my firm favourite of the Charlie Donlea Collection.

The Suicide House is a griping read that unfurls over 10 thrilling parts and 104 revealing chapters. Only take up Charlie Donlea’s invitation to enter The Suicide House if you dare to indulge in a dangerous game of murder and mystery!

The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea was published on 4th August 2020 by Penguin Books Australia. Details on how to purchase the book can be found here.

To learn more about the author of The Suicide House, Charlie Donlea, visit here.

*I wish to thank Penguin Books Australia for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.

*Book #11 of the 2020 International Male Author Challenge.

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