Cover Image: The Suicide House

The Suicide House

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Member Reviews

I love a good preppy school mystery novel and this was the definition of that. It felt like "Dead Poet's Society" meets "Pretty Little Liars" meets something else that is really scary. 

You're first introduced to the Westmont Prep killings without Rory or Lane being introduced... it is very gory, very detailed but very enticing. The story seems pretty straight forward at first and I wasn't totally convinced the teacher didn't do it, especially when you get halfway through the novel and something mind-blowing is revealed. It didn't seem to make sense of how this was going to end. 

However, once the killer is revealed, you see it all come together and it truly blew my mind. It was one of the most insane twists I've ever read *I've read a lot of twists* and the ending... with how it was figured out, it was creepy, gross, and jaw-dropping. 

I loved how the novel took us from past to present, through many different POVs because you got even more chances to try to figure out who killed the kids... and why the person killed them. What could cause such gruesome harm to teenagers? We do get a peek inside the killer's POV, but at the time, you don't even realize it's the killer. 

The way this book was organized and put together really made all the difference. It kept you on your toes but was easy to follow and understand the storyline. 

If you couldn't tell, I highly recommend reading "The Suicide House".... with a gentle trigger warning because there is suicide mentioned in the novel.
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This novel is high-octane suspense. Once I read the first twenty-five pages, I was hooked. I devoured this novel in two-sittings. The Suicide House is a podcast that brings the slaughter of two students to fame. What initially is reported as a closed case, actually leaves behind questions and suspicious holes in the narrative. Is the case actually what it was reported to be? Is it actually solved, a shut and done deal? 
The final third of the novel is as tense as you can imagine and hope to expect in a well-executed thriller. 
This is an author I haven't read before, but will definitely be checking for again in the future.
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EPIC! Intense, Bold, and Superbly Written!

A massive fan of internationally bestselling author, Charlie Donlea since I read his debut, Summit Lake —then The Girl Who Was Taken, and Don’t Believe It.

However, when I read Some Choose Darkness with the introduction of the character, Rory Moore, the author's writing moved to an even higher level. With the dual timelines, elevated sophisticated and detailed forensics, fans of Karin Slaughter and Lisa Gardner will find a lot of love here!

I was hoping Rory Moore would return and was delighted when I heard Charlie chose to bring her back with her partner, Lane Philipps, in THE SUICIDE HOUSE.

These characters are complex, intriguing, and well developed. I would highly recommend reading SOME CHOOSE DARKNESS before reading THE SUICIDE HOUSE. You really need to know the backstory of these characters. You also will find Gus Morelli, the wise detective we met in Don’t Believe It. I always love revisiting familiar characters.

Like Karin Slaughter’s popular series characters—Will Trent, Lisa Gardner’s D.D. Warren and Flora Dane, and Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch—Rory Moore and Lane Phillips I predict will become household names. More books, please!!! I want an entire series.

Donlea sets the mood with the creep factor and the dark vibes. From the eerie and chilling setting, we go into an elite boarding school, Westmont Preparatory High School, where things are kept secret behind the walls.

The school has a past and present—the two meet. Someone has an agenda. There is a killer we meet, and Charlie takes us inside the psychopath’s mind through amusing journal entries.

Journal Entry: The Tracks: "I killed my brother with a penny. Simple, benign, and perfectly believable."

There is a cool podcast about the murders. Who is the killer? Why are the murders still occurring today? Who is the Man in the Mirror?

Forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore and her FBI partner Lane Phillips must solve the case. From the creepy woods, the old boarding house, and the deserted railroad tracks.

Someone is killing people, but why?

Rory must recreate the night long ago to solve the case. Someone is playing a dangerous game and must be stopped. From secrets and lies and more twists than you can imagine!

If you are a Rory fan, then I think by the ending we may see her again in the future. (fingers crossed) The author writes about smart, intelligent women in his novels, and if you have not read his books, what are you waiting for? These characters are flawed, and their lives have been tough, but they are courageous and survivors.

If you enjoy cold cases, THE SUICIDE HOUSE is for you. For fans of Michelle’s Campbell’s, "The Quiet One" and J. T. Ellison’s, "Good Girls Lie" and Michael Robotham’s Cyrus Havens series, "When She was Good."

Donlea is a master storyteller, and THE SUICIDE HOUSE is both plot and character-driven —Top Books of 2020—a riveting top suspenseful psychological crime thriller. Donlea again proves himself as a top thriller writer.

Move this one to the top of your reading list! You will want to learn more about the complex and brilliant forensics reconstructionist, Rory Moore.

Gripping, gruesome, and emotionally compelling. Children raised by monsters often turn into bigger monsters. Get to know Rory and Lane. I cannot see what Charlie delivers next!

A special thank you to Kensington Books and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.

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This was an excellent thriller.  The author expertly used red herrings to throw the reader off.  I love being surprised by a book, and I was surprised by this one.  It was a deliciously creepy read and I loved the characters of Rory and Lane.  I really enjoyed reading this.
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4,5 Stars

When i read Some Choose darkness last year i was hoping it wouldn't the last i will read about Rory Moore and Lane Phillips. And i'm happy my wish came true.
The suicide House is a very fascinating story that shows the twisted side of a very clever and dangerous killer. But more than that, in this story i found that there wasn't really any 100% innocent character, each of the them had a small dark side to them. And it was brilliant.

Horrific murders happened one night during the summer break in a prestigious school. The victims were students, the suspect one of the teachers. The case seemed an easy enough one, quickly closed. Except for one small detail. During the following year, some on the students who survived went back to the house where the murders happened, and committed suicide.
And that's when Rory and Lane came into the pictures to find answers about that night and the following suicides.
Needless to say that i was surprised by the end, although i could piece some small parts of it together, it still came as a surprise.

I enjoyed reading this book a lot and i would recommend it to my friends.
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Today she would walk through the crime scene-the abandoned boarding house tucked into the forest at the edge of the Westmont Prep campus, where two students had been killed one short year before. She knew what was coming. She knew what waited there. It was the same thing that waited at every crime scene she analyzed-the souls of those who had lost their lives. Rory's goal was to feel them and connect with them so that eventually she could communicate with them in her own subtle way. Her connection with the victims was not a physical one, and her communication was not verbal. To those lost souls, Rory made one simple promise- to lead them to a proper place of rest where peace and calm would be found. This far into her career as a forensic reconstructionist, Rory Moore had never broken a promise.

When you find a an author such as Charlie Donlea, you run to Amazon, your favorite book store and you pick up his new thriller! This one touches on his past characters in subtle ways but the main one Rory and her significant other Lane are the stars of this thriller. There is no waiting for the prep, you don't know who he is but his character is developed in how he became who he is. A narcissist killer that could be anyone, you just don't know who. It's almost like you feel him breathing down you neck.

Rory and Lane make a great working couple along with they get each other. They are both different but they are endearing. How they work out the crime scene, the mind of the killer, and those that they come in contact. I liked this one from start to finish and I can't wait for the next one. The series has tremendous opportunities.

A special thank you to Kensington Books and Netgalley for the ARC and the opportunity to post an honest review.
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YES! I love books about private schools / secret societies - the elite and private worlds of people that I will never actually be involved in in real life.  And I love podcasts so overall was super excited about the concept of this book!  I did not read the first book so was unfamiliar with the character at first, but I feel like that was okay.  There was a lot going on which I would say might be my biggest complaint, a bit hard to follow but overall this was really engaging and interesting if slightly predictable. All my questions were answered - it was a great book!
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This book was a wild ride. Told in multiple POV, including a podcast, this story is viewed from all angles. There is so much to take in, but it really brings the story to life.

Rory is a Forensic Reconstructionit. Her idocincrecies allow her to see things that most people would not, making her the perfect person for the job of finding out what really happened at The Suicide House and why people are still comiting suicide there. I really loved Rory's character! Not only did the author show us her skills as an investigator, but also her meticulous skills at doll reconstruction. It was so interesting to see the world through her eyes and I loved how this story for her concluded.

You get parts and pieces from a a person reading from a journal that tells of this person's enjoyment of killing since they were a young. From a family member to perfect strangers, it is a game that they have played and planned for years. The one things that they thought was their saving grace from a childhood murder ends up being their biggest downfall. It was really interesting watching this part of the story play out. At times you think you know who this person may be, and then you find something else out that changes your mind.

You get the story from the remaining kids involved with the original murders. You can see how they struggle with wanting to do what's right and wanting to follow the rules of the game. It seems whenever someone's conscience gets the better of them, someone dies. This was also interesting since you get snippets of the story through their confession to someone that you also don't know who they are.

The story was so well written with never a dull moment from start to finish. It sure as hell will keep you on your toes not wanting to miss any information. A truly well rounded story!

Let's say I was a huge fan I'm going to have to chek out other works by this author!

Thank you to Netgalley and Kensington Books for a copy of this title in exchange for an honest review
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Gruesome murders take place near an abandoned boarding house on the grounds of a prestigious prep school in Indiana, a teacher is found to be the murderer, survivors start committing a suicide, and a popular podcast generates consistories there is more than what’s being told. Will Forensic Reconstructionist Rory Moore and her Psychologist partner, Lane Phillips discover secrets left untold, or will everyone take their secrets to the grave?

This was a fun read. Although the murders were gruesome, I feel like the details left a lot to imagination, so it wasn’t overly graphic. Rory Moore is a delightful lead character, I love how she is perfectly flawed. I enjoyed her, Lane, and Gus’s characters the most, I’m looking forward to learning more about them in the author’s other books. I felt everyone else, even though played an important role, were largely undeveloped, but served their purpose. 

Criticisms: I wish the podcast would have had a more prevalent role or maybe some of Ryder Hiller’s previous role in the Westmont Prep murders, I really wanted more Ryder. There was so much background work done, but it was kind of glossed over. I also felt there was very little character development, outside of Rory, so even though I put the puzzle together, I feel like the whodunit breadcrumbs were hard, because there was very little revealed about the other characters personal lives.

Accolades: First off, I loved the premise. Growing up on teen-slasher films at an all too young age, I always love a good boarding school slaughter. Especially when everything isn't quite what it seems. The story was well paced, kept me intrigued, kept me guessing, and second guessing. It was a lot of fun connecting all the dots. Not only did I love the whodunit, the reveal, and the conclusion of all the chaos at Westmount Prep, I also loved how Donlea gave us a few Easter eggs of what might be in store for some of our favorite characters in books to come… Which is always fun with recurring characters.

This would make for a perfect read for mystery/thriller fans looking for some fun fall reads. Thank You NetGalley, Kensington Books, and Charlie Donlea for the eARC in exchange for my fair and honest review, all opinions are my own.
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This was my first book by Charlie Donlea but I don’t think it will be my last!

One year ago a brutal murder takes place on a prep schools campus. It seems like a pretty open and shut case, until the survivors start dropping dying one by one. 
Did the original investigation get it wrong?

This book follows several characters point of view and I will be honest it was a little hard to follow in the beginning but by the end when it all came together it was actually one of my favorite part of the book.
I liked our main character/investigator. I can’t wait to read more books following this character.

I can’t say this one was shocking, or super ground breaking but I found it very entertaining and I definitely will be checking out this authors back list!
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"Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn’t ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win—or to survive...

This is book 2 in a series by Charlie Donlea.  It is my 1st read by this author but the description had me hooked. I enjoyed the twist in terms and this book and I highly recommend.

Thank you NetGalley and Kensington Books for the eARC!
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A friend of mine posted a review of this book and her words of "Prep Schools" drew me in as well as her review. I have never read anything of Mr. Donlea's before and this will be rectified immediately.  I enjoyed the character of Rory very much and I found the author's way of describing how she sees things in the world and processes it. Her relationship with Lane was interesting and I am hoping something comes further down the road with the two of them looking for more cases to solve.  If you enjoy a good mystery I would recommend you add this to your list. Thank you to Kensington and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book.
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The Suicide House was a wonderful whodunnit/police procedural/creepy read of a book!  The books by this author are somewhat a series, but can all be read as standalone (which I did, and wasn't ever confused about characters or backstory)  I liked the creepiness factor of the book.  Had a very supernatural vibe to it.  I will read more by Charlie Donlea.
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This book has all the elements that I typically don’t enjoy in a book, and yet, I was enthralled, devoured it, and really enjoyed it.

Last year, two students were killed in a grisly murder in the woods behind Westmont Prep. A teacher was convicted, but questions remain. Which sparks The Suicide House, a true crime podcast about hat may have really happened in the woods, and what could happen next. Did the school legend, The Man in the Mirror really have something to do with the murders, or is the convicted teacher simply guilty? That’s what Rory, an expert in reconstruction cold cases, is trying to find out. At least she was, until this cult podcaster took over everything. The deeper the story gets, the more questions she’ll have. Is something supernatural really going on?

This book hooked me from the first chapter. I do not enjoy true crime (unless there are supernatural or “fun” conspiracy elements to the story), but I do love the format of investigative podcasts. The format is really cool to me, and I’ve seen some books do some really cool stuff with this motif. I’m also not a huge fan of thrillers and mysteries, but perhaps because of the potential supernatural elements, I was drawn to this one. I’m a sucker for psychological thrillers and ones that have me guessing if it’s ghosts or just really screwed up people.

This one played the suspense well, I think. It didn’t drag on so long that I got bored, but it wasn’t so tense I wanted to jump out of my seat the entire time. It’s a difficult and delicate balance. One that Donlea got right, in my opinion.

My only endorsement is that I don’t like these types of books, and I enjoyed this one. I devoured it in under 24 hours, and I’m excited to see what else Donlea has coming down the pipe. It’s out in print and audio now, and I suggest the audio if you’re into horror podcasts or audiobooks. It further enhances the podcast theme of the story.
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Thank you to Kensington Publishing Corp and also NetGalley for sending me a copy of The Suicide House! This was a crazy book for sure! It was a bit long for me with some repetition but I still enjoyed it but I definitely think some of it could have been left out. I have never read anything by this author so that was nice to discover a new one which he did a pretty good job. Each chapter is different with the characters or just a different part of the story which was nice and gave you different perspectives. There were a lot of characters which I am not a big fan of so that kinda made my rating go down a bit as well. When there are too many characters its hard for me to keep track sometimes. Overall it was a good book and I think a lot of people would like this thriller! Definitely check it out!
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“I killed my brother with a penny...”
Ok, wow, what an opener! I loved the prologue and first few chapters but as the book progressed I did get confused with all the viewpoints and storylines. There is a suicide, a murder, and a secret society involved in this book and it was a lot to keep track of! 

This is my first Charlie Donlea book, and he did keep me on the edge of my seat several times, so maybe I’ll like more from this author in the future. 

Thank you to NetGalley, Kensington Publishing, and Charlie Donlea for providing me a review copy.
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EXCERPT: I killed my brother with a penny. Simple, benign and perfectly believable.

ABOUT THIS BOOK: Inside the walls of Indiana's elite Westmont Preparatory High School, expectations run high and rules are strictly enforced. But in the woods beyond the manicured campus and playing fields sits an abandoned boarding house that is infamous among Westmont's students as a late-night hangout. Here, only one rule applies: don't let your candle go out--unless you want the Man in the Mirror to find you. . . .

One year ago, two students were killed there in a grisly slaughter. The case has since become the focus of a hit podcast, The Suicide House. Though a teacher was convicted of the murders, mysteries and questions remain. The most urgent among them is why so many students who survived that horrific night have returned to the boarding house--to kill themselves.

Rory, an expert in reconstructing cold cases, is working on The Suicide House podcast with Lane, recreating the night of the killings in order to find answers that have eluded the school, the town, and the police. But the more they learn about the troubled students, the chillingly stoic culprit, and a dangerous game gone tragically wrong, the more convinced they become that something sinister is still happening. Inside Westmont Prep, the game hasn't ended. It thrives on secrecy and silence. And for its players, there may be no way to win--or to survive. . . .

MY THOUGHTS: I haven't read 'Some Choose Darkness' #1 in the Rory Moore/Lane Phillips series. If you haven't either, it's not a problem. Both books are written as stand-alones although they feature the same main characters. But, first thing Monday I am off to the library to get a copy of Some Choose Darkness. I want to read it and am annoyed with myself that I missed it when it came out.

There's a lot that goes on in this book and it takes a little while for it to start to tie in together. One thing is for sure - I never wanted to go away to school, and The Suicide House has reinforced that decision! Secret societies, dangerous pranks, dares and hazing form the background for this story of death and a dangerous obsession.

The two characters around whom this book is centred don't actually feature as prominently as I expected they would. The Suicide house begins with a rather enigmatic journal entry by a boy who has killed his brother, and gotten away with it. These journal entries continue sporadically throughout the novel.

The timelines are split between Summer 2019 when the murders occur and August 2020, at which time we meet broadcaster Mack Carter and journalist Ryder Hillier, who are both independently working on the Westmont Prep School Murders.

August 2020 is also when we meet Dr Lane Phillips, forensic psychologist and criminal profiler. I found it quite hard to get a handle on his character, another reason I want to read the preceding book. His partner, Rory Moore, is a forensic reconstructionist specializing in cold-case homicides, with a passion for the reconstruction of antique dolls. I found it quite disappointing that more use was not made of their skills.

While I really enjoyed this read, there are a few things that don't make much sense to me. There seems to be a point to most secret societies, but with the one at the centre of The Suicide House, there doesn't seem to be any point other than to participate in game of 'The Man in The Mirror'. Missing man, Marc McEvoy, was an unnecessary distraction and overcomplicated the storyline.

A new character, Gus Morelli, is introduced towards the end of The Suicide House, and I hope that we see more of him in the future.

The Suicide House certainly held my interest from start to finish. There's a few relationships between characters that didn't quite sit right for me and left me with a few questions about the resolution, therefore only a 4 star rating rather than 5 stars.

Definitely a series I want to read more of. I have enjoyed everything I have ever read by this author, and The Suicide House is no exception.


THE AUTHOR: Charlie Donlea resides in Chicago with his wife and two young children.

He spends a part of each year fishing with his father in the far reaches of Canada, where the roads end and lakes are accessible only by floatplane. These majestic trips to “God’s Country” inspired the setting for his first novel, Summit Lake.

DISCLOSURE: Thank you to Kensington Books via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of The Suicide House by Charlie Donlea for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.

For an explanation of my rating system please refer to my profile page or the about page on

This review and others are also published on Twitter, Amazon, Instagram and my webpage
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Charlie Donlea's latest thriller, THE SUICIDE HOUSE, is yet another page-turner. There is always a point where I, as a reader, find myself unable to stop and just keep moving forward. That's a good thing.

It was good to visit with Rory Moore and Dr. Lane Phillips again and to be reintroduced to Gus Morelli. Donlea is building a world where the protagonists of his former novels come together and interact with each other. That is also a good thing. And the idea at the end that gives me hope of more Moore/Phillips/Morelli books is fantastic.

The Westmont Preparatory High School suicides kept me guessing. I realized early on that they weren't really suicides (duh!), but I kept missing things that led me in the wrong direction at times. I did eventually put two and two together and arrive at the correct suspect, but I enjoyed the investigation and the twists and turns along the way.

Highly recommended.

I received a copy from Kensington Books through NetGalley. All opinions are my own.
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I’ve been on kind of a mystery/suspense kick lately. Whether historical or gothic or just plain old edge of your seat thriller. This is a new to me author and the cover caught my eye. Then the blurb sealed the deal for me.

Let me just say this, if shifting POVs isn’t your thing, I would skip this book. The POV shifts between 6 or 7 characters, depending on where we are in The are also fluctuations in the time between past and present. It worked for me and even though many of these characters appear in other books by this author, I never felt lost or like I should have picked up those other books first. I think some of the changes in POV and timeframe actually gave this mystery more oompf and kept me engaged.

This was a very well done mystery. A bit gory and very dark, but well done. Lots of twists and turn, but so tightly plotted that I never felt bored or like I wanted to set my Kindle down and stop reading. I especially enjoyed getting to know Rory, a forensic reconstructionist, and Lane, a forensic phycologist and criminal profiler. I would definitely like to visit with them again.

I very much enjoyed my first book by Charlie Donlea and look forward to more suspenseful reads from him in the future.
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At a private boarding school hidden in the woods of Indiana, students are dying. Two students have been murdered, one teacher tries to kill himself, and several other students jump in front of a train, ending their own lives. A year after the original murders, there are still people who do not believe the case was truly solved, so behind the scenes, several professionals attempt to uncover what happened on the night that the Man in the Mirror game was played, resulting in this string of deaths.

Thriller and mystery books are the way to my heart, and 'The Suicide House' fulfilled every dream I could ever have when it comes to those genres. It was spooky and dark, and I was hooked from the very first journal entry that opened up the book. There were so many plot twists that I was not expecting, and the psychological aspect of the book kept me guessing from beginning to end. I would highly recommend this book!

A huge thank you to NetGalley and Kensington Books for providing an ARC of 'The Suicide House' by Charlie Donlea!
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