Summit Lake

Narrated by: Shannon McManus
Length: 8 hrs and 12 mins
4.2 out of 5 stars (3,359 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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

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.

“An exciting debut, with all the right touches, captivating from the first page to the last.” --Steve Berry, New York Times bestselling author

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....

“A swift, outstanding debut.” --Robert Dugoni, New York Times bestselling author

“Fans of contemporary suspense will enjoy this brisk read.” --Booklist

©2016 Charlie Donlea (P)2015 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved. Lyrics to “She Don’t Like Roses” used by permission of Christine Kane.

What listeners say about Summit Lake

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

I'm easy to please with a book, but this was off.

If you can get past the narrator's voice and some story flaws (some of which are explained later in the book), this is actually a decent book. After I was 3 hours in, I contemplated just scrapping it and listening to something else. I wrote the review below at that time. Since I was already intrigued enough to want to know who the murderer was, I kept going. The same things still irritated me, but in the end I thought the story was woven together nicely. I liked the back and forth format between the days / weeks / months / years leading up to her death and the days after her death so we can understand the progress of the journalist's investigation. It's quite a sad story, actually. A series of unfortunate events had a major impact on a group of young friends with so much promise. I could do without the "Hallmark movie" vibe (out-of-towner shows up in small town to write and is instantly embraced by multiple locals). But, that aside, this wasn't the waste of time I was expecting it to be after hour 3. I wouldn't recommend this book outright, but if someone was specifically interested in reading it and asked my opinion, I'd tell them to give it a go. Not exactly a glowing review, but those are my thoughts. _________________________ Warning - After 3 hours of the book, I wrote the following: I'm not sure I'll be able to finish. The main character (journalist) is 30, so this should not be a YA read. But, the narration has had me wondering if this is a YA book multiple times. Her voice is very young, "valley girl" like and not right for this story. Although the alternating storyline takes place when the murdered girl is in college, I don't think the author intended them to sound as dumb and naive as the narrator makes it seem. Story-wise, there have already been so many things that don't line up. If you're sensitive to spoilers, maybe skip this next part. Nothing earth shattering here, but could be spoilerish. I don't buy that someone who is a total stranger can get people - PROFESSIONALS - to bend or break the rules with little to no hesitation to help them out. Especially a journalist. She's not a private investigator or something. She's a stranger and a journalist! In 2 sentences, it goes "I'm not allowed to do that" to "meet me for dinner and I'll give you the scoop." No way. The timeline of the girl who now runs the coffee shop seems off, too. The owner / operator decided she's going to skip town because she's getting too many questions about the murder. This has already escalated to her leaving the business behind and bringing someone else in to buy it from her? This murder happened like 3 weeks ago. Not buying it. And, how convenient that the owner's mother was able to recount every single little detail about the girl's time at the coffee shop the night she was murdered. The old woman wasn't even there. But, apparently her daughter "tells her everything." Down the the look on this girl's face and the conversations she had and the subjects of the books she was studying? Nope. No way. These might sound like dumb things to comment on, but I feel like the author was sloppy about these details and/or assumes the readers are idiots. After re-reading the reviews, I'm pretty sure that Charlie Donlea and/or Shannon McManus teaches some sort of class and threatened all of his students that they would fail unless they wrote a glowing review of this audiobook. Someone mentioned that the narrator beautifully captured the essence of the written word. What?! Were we listening to the same book? While I might finish the book because I'm wondering who killed the girl, I wish I'd skipped this one altogether. I'd recommend you skip it too!

75 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Good start, rough finish

I had to finish it because I needed to know if it improved. It does not. It starts out so good but half way through I found myself yelling ‘wtf’ because the storyline was soooooo ridiculous. I like this author- but beware of this one.

66 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Very sad ending to a promising young life...

What was one of the most memorable moments of Summit Lake?

When Becca's murderer sits down with the letter she wrote to her unborn daughter. The one thing I regret about this book is that it brings up the letter quite a few times but never says what the letter says but I guess anyone who has or ever thought about having children can kind of fill in the blanks.

What does Shannon McManus bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

I thought she did a very good job narrating. I have listened to her narration of other books and I think this may be her best performance.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Maybe not in one sitting but I did listen to it in one day.

Any additional comments?

I thought this was a very good book. I've looked at some of the other reviews that say it's a novel or unique idea but I really didn't see it that way. To me this book is the classic love triangle. The book makes the murdered girl kind of a flirt so the third party to the triangle although kind of predictable could possibly be another. There is a lot of secrecy surrounding this girl and the relationship she has with her baby's father. There are a few things that happened that made no sense to me whatsoever (i.e.: the victim left her diary/journal at a local cafe and instead of turning it over to the police the shop owner hid in in one of her cookbooks...HUH?). Anyway I did like the writing style, the book moves along at a pretty good pace. I liked the way the author go back and forth between past and present and did not find it at all confusing. With each new chapter he says the number of months or week or day before the murder. Or in the case of the investigative reporter he stated how long since the murder. He also gives the reporter a similar but not the same kind of story of her own which makes her look at this case a little more personal and I think with more empathy.
I purchased this book on sale for $4.95 and it is certainly worth that.
I would RECOMMEND this book especially if you read this review while it is still on sale.
If you found this review helpful please indicate so.
Thank You.

75 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

The Author Has No Respect for The Readers

There is a difference between outsmarting the audience and tricking the audience. I devoured this mystery. I was fully invested early on. Took multiple trips around the block to hear more and thought about the book when I left the car. Ultimately, the author had no respect for the readers. The ending wasn't a got ya, it was a deliberate attempt to mislead. And I'm not sure why, I could rewrite the book with one character at the end of the whodunit with similar characteristics as the character was ultimately responsible and it would have been plauisble. The details at the end were sloppy thrown together. Some plots never were resolved. And the main characters ending made no sense based on what she experienced earlier in the book. None of the ending was plausible to me. Well written, yes, but not plausible. I left this book with a bad taste in my mouth. It was a great book but the ending almost destroyed everything

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Not a story I would advise you to visit.

What disappointed you about Summit Lake?

A reporter is brutally raped and beaten and a month later her "thinks of her like a daughter" boss sends her for R&R to cover a case where someone was brutally raped, beaten and died. Makes no sense. Then everyone in this small town meets her and wants to tell her everything, including the sheriff who gives her all his notes on the case. Really? Just too far-fetched of a story.

What was most disappointing about Charlie Donlea’s story?

The state police cannot get answers from anyone and a reporter solves the case. She has been beaten and raped and then goes off alone with a man she has just met. There are just far too many conveniences for this to be anywhere near realistic.

How could the performance have been better?

Another narrator. Shannon McManus has recorded quite a few books, but this one is an absolute mess. Her inflection is completely wrong. Her voice goes up at the end of most sentences, the way it should when asking a question. She has no grasp of cadence in moving from one sentence to another. Thank goodness I only paid $2.95 for it! If I had paid more, I would be sick over it.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It was very inexpensive.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Disappointing

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

No. The story line is transparent, geared toward twenty-year-old audience. The narration is awful, she actually sounds like she's READING, which is monotonous. I have had to turn it off while driving because it puts me to sleep. That, and the "valley girl" dialect that creeps into several of the character's voices.

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Completely detracted from a story line that was so-so to begin with.

Was Summit Lake worth the listening time?

Not really.

45 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Very annoying narrator...

The narrator's twangy, annoying voice almost stopped me from listening to this book. There was a complete lack of intonation in the speech. This took away from the drama and suspense. The story was thin, contrived, and full of holes. They go to a residential house to break in and find a journal and they park in the driveway. They take it with them rather than take photos of the pages. Character descriptions were pretty bad also. I have no idea what anyone looked like except for their toned bodies and pony tails. The victim was not really likable or a sympathetic character.

22 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Disappointingly ludicrous

The story line is pure fantasy about the manipulative self centered victim, and the equally self important "journalist/reporter" who is constantly exposing/betraying her sources. It was like reading the rough draft of a book that was never fleshed out. So disappointed 😓😓😓

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Charlie Donlea Knows how to Write Mystery Novels

Where does Summit Lake rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Among the best. The story is original and interesting, and the temporal converging of past and present narratives unfolds in an unique, thoughtful manner that consistently engages the reader. The characters are interesting, well-bounded, three dimensional, and - with the exception of Becka's murderer - likable and genuine. The interpersonal dynamics are fantastic and developed excellently (both by the narrator and the author). The story is always interesting and the ending is so, so good,It is unexpected, but analytically supported and developed by the narrative.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Summit Lake?

The moment you find out who Becka's murderer is. Brilliant.

Which scene was your favorite?

The ending when Kelsey finds the dwelling of the murderer and the death of Becka and the circumstances surrounding it jointly unfold to reveal the twisted mind of her killer.

Any additional comments?

If you enjoy thrillers and mysteries, you need to read this book.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

It's a mystery.....

The mystery is why this book has any positive reviews. It's poorly written, unrealistic, and the characters are not sympathetic. Don't bother.

26 people found this helpful