The Girl of Sugar Beach is the most watched documentary in television history—a riveting, true-life mystery that unfolds over twelve weeks and centers on a fascinating question: Did Grace Sebold murder her boyfriend, Julian, while on a Spring Break vacation, or is she a victim of circumstance and poor police work? Grace has spent the last ten years in a St. Lucian prison, and reaches out to filmmaker Sidney Ryan in a last, desperate attempt to prove her innocence.
As Sidney begins researching, she uncovers startling evidence, additional suspects, and timeline issues that were all overlooked during the original investigation. Before the series even finishes filming, public outcry leads officials to reopen the case. But as the show surges towards its final episodes, Sidney receives a letter saying that she got it badly, terribly wrong.
Sidney has just convinced the world that Grace is innocent. Now she wonders if she has helped to free a ruthless killer. Delving into Grace’s past, she peels away layer after layer of deception. But as Sidney edges closer to the real heart of the story, she must decide if finding the truth is worth risking her newfound fame, her career . . . even her life.
I found this to be an enjoyable read. I went into it nearly blind and was really glad I did. As I sat down to write this review I read the synopsis in its entirety and was a bit disappointed by how much of the storyline is given away. I highly recommend that if you have not read the synopsis yet, don’t. Let the story unfold naturally, I believe it will be much more enjoyable going in blind.
Sidney Ryan has made a handful of documentaries that have led to the release of inmates serving time who did not belong behind bars. Now she continuously receives letters from inmates looking for help. Grace Sebold is serving time in St. Lucia for killing her boyfriend Julian Crist. She has been writing to Sidney for the past ten years hoping to convince Sidney to take a look at her case.
Grace’s wish has come true and Sidney has decided to travel to St. Lucia, on a shoestring budget, and film a pilot episode for the network executives. Sidney isn’t entirely sure she believes in Grace’s innocence, but she feels that it is worth looking into to see what she can uncover. The network executives love the pilot and give her the green light to film and produce a ten-week-long documentary.
I loved that the documentary is being filmed and aired in real time. Whatever Sidney discovers that week will be aired on Friday. The real time format is fantastic, without knowing the story, both the reader and the fictional TV audience share a similar experience.
Initially I found myself completely wrapped up in the drama of the workplace. Luke Barrington, “The Bear,” thinks he is hot stuff and the king of network television. I was cheering Sidney on to top him in his ratings and put him in his place. As the story progressed, my attention eventually redirected to Grace and whether she was guilty of the crime she has been convicted of. I was quite curious what would become of her situation and if Sidney would uncover any new evidence.
I thought it was interesting that the show Making a Murderer was often referenced. I always enjoy a non-fiction element being worked into a fictional story. If you have not seen Making a Murderer I highly recommend that you do. It is really well done and very interesting!
The story was a bit slow to develop for the first half of the book, but always held my interest. I found myself much more invested during the second half of the story as the pace picked up.
*Thank you NetGalley, Kensington, and Charlie Donlea for the opportunity to read and review this book for my honest opinion.
My Rating: 3.5/5
Genre: Crime Fiction
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publication Date: 5/29/2018
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