The Suicide House (Rory Moore and Lane Phillips #2), by Charlie Donlea

Eight stars

Charlie Donlea not only knows his craft, but can pen a stellar psycho thriller that is both addictive and chilling. The second novel in this series not only builds on the first, but has elements like no other and kept me devouring it in a single day. The two protagonists work well together, but also independently, keeping the reader int he middle of the action. This story differs greatly from the series debut, but is just as intense, showing me that Charlie Donlea has talent and I can only hope he will return to add to the collection soon.

Westmont Preparatory High School, a scholastic institution like no other in Indiana, runs on strict rules and deep traditions. Its students have a high success rate, but they also have secrets that they keep to themselves, not the least of which a boarding house buried deep in the woods. Used primarily for late-night hangouts and a place to drink, there is but one rule; don’t get caught by the Man in the Mirror.

A year ago, two students were brutally murdered there, which has led to a great deal of attention being turned on the school, including a highly popular podcast, The Suicide House. The focus on the podcast is to explore what happened, as well as update those who tune in, examining the arrest of a teacher for the murders and his own attempt to die by tossing himself in front of a speeding train. Soon thereafter, students who survived the brutal attack returned to the Suicide House and killed themselves, as though drawn to do so by their own guilt.

After forensic psychologist, Lane Phillips, is asked to take part in the podcast, he invites his girlfriend, Rory Moore, to join him. She reluctantly agrees and they begin trying too piece together what happened. Rory, a forensic reconstructionist, is eager to find the missing pieces and create a narrative that Lane can use when discussing matters with those who listen to the podcast. What she discovers is more mysterious than she could have imagined, including new secrets never revealed to the police and the aura that there remains sinister goings-on at Westmont Prep.

The Man in the Mirror may have been a game, but to some it is deeply rooted in a far more troubling phenomenon and Rory will stop at nothing until she has it all revealed. Working with crime scene photos, reports, and the word of those who are still around, Rory and Lane find new avenues that are essential to understanding what happened that fateful night and who might be behind it all. Could a man in a vegetative state hold all the answers, or is there more yet to be understood? Donlea masters the art of storytelling with this piece. Perfect for those who want a unique approach to crime forensics and the criminal mind!

Charlie Donlea lures the reader into his world with wonderful torytelling and masterful prose. His strong narrative offers readers a pathway into the dark and yet shines just enough to lead the way around what proves to be a truly grisly set of events. The characters are again perfectly suited to the story and add depth as well as flavouring to the overall experience. Plot twists and deception are front and centre throughout, forcing the reader to check their preconceived notions at the door as they make their way through this piece. I love the unique. approach to forensics Donlea offers his fans and how seamlessly all the pieces fit together, if you pardon the pun. I can only hope that there will be more in this series, as Charlie Donlea has me hooked!

Kudos, Mr. Donlea, for another great piece. Eerie is an understatement.