BOOK CLUB: Twenty Years Later

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Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Penguin Random House Australia for the opportunity to read Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea.

This book is brilliant! It certainly delivers everything needed for a suspenseful, gripping, thrilling, murder mystery that keeps you enthralled and guessing as to “who did it” to the very last page!

Victoria Ford has been accused of killing her wealthy, married lover.

On September 11th, 2001 she is with her defence attorney in his office on the 78th floor in the North Tower of the World Trade Centre. As the building shakes, and with the smell of gasoline everywhere, she tries to escape to the roof. Her last phone call goes to her sister’s answering machine. “Emma, if I am not able to get out of the building, please believe that I’m innocent.”

Twenty years later, with new technology, the New York Medical Examiner’s Office has made its first successful identification of a 9/11 victim in years. Victoria Ford.



Avery Mason is the TV host of American Events, a successful current affairs program. She decides to feature the Victoria Ford story. To interview Victoria’s remaining family, her sister. Closure for the family, a murder, mystery, sex, and betrayal.

This story is ratings gold!

Avery sets out to uncover the truth.

Avery’s life is rather complicated with her own secret. A secret that could destroy her career should her employers or the public discover it.

Walt Jenkins, a former detective, and FBI agent has spent the last 3 years hiding in a remote area of Jamaica. Not quite remote enough, as the FBI locate him and ask him to return to New York as a consultant to the FBI on a case. The Victoria Ford case. Twenty years ago he was the lead detective on this case. He had gathered and organised every bit of evidence and worked towards a certain conviction. As the Twin Towers crashed, so did the case…..there were now far more urgent terrorism issues to deal with.

Walt’s life, also is “secretive”. What could have happened for the FBI to force him to take early retirement? Could he have got the investigation wrong, is it possible that Victoria was innocent?

What will be uncovered about Victoria, Avery, and Walt? Who was the murderer? So many mysteries to keep you enthralled!

A fantastic read. I will definitely be hunting out all Charlie Donlea’s other books to read!

Although the story is fiction, I was moved to discover that today, twenty years later, scientists in the office of the New York Medical Examiner are still working towards identifying each victim through DNA, using their new processes. Every truckload of rubble was sieved and pieces of bone stored to be identified later. 60% of those killed that day have been identified.

There are still many families hoping for closure but the scientists have not given up.


ISBN: 9781760894863 / Penguin Books

A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club members are reading Twenty Years Later. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.

8 thoughts on “BOOK CLUB: Twenty Years Later

  1. Twenty Years Later – by Charlie Donlea
    Victoria Ford was in trouble, she was the number one suspect in the murder of her lover Cameron Young.
    Detective Walt Jenkins had a solid case against her and was ready to take it to trial. That was until the planes hit the Twin Towers on 9/11 with Victoria inside consulting with her lawyer.
    Twenty years later and with new technology Victoria’s DNA was identified amongst the rubble collected from Ground Zero.
    Successful Tv host Avery Mason hears about this discovery and thinks it would make a great story for her show American Events.
    But when Avery starts interviewing Victoria’s Family, friends, lawyer and Detective walt Jenkins some discrepancies start to show.
    Avery makes it her mission to find out the truth while also keeping her own family secrets hidden.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Penguin Random House Australia for the chance to read this great book.
    The twists at the end took me by surprise!

  2. “Twenty Years Later” is a great thriller, including a killer twist that I didn’t see coming.

    In New York City, just shy of the twentieth anniversary of the attacks, a victim of the Twin Towers has just been identified. Sniffing a timely story, television reporter Avery Mason heads to New York to scope it out. She finds much more than she bargained for; trapped in the Twin Towers, Victoria Ford phoned her sister to beg her to clear her name. On the day she died, Victoria was facing a murder charge. She died proclaiming her innocence.

    Avery herself has secrets, and it looks like this trip to New York might bring them uncomfortably close to the surface. Avery was born Claire Montgomery, but after her father was indicted for running the largest Ponzi scheme in American history, she changed her name. Few people know her real name, and so far no-one has connected her to the notorious criminal.

    The FBI know, though, and they’re surreptiously watching Avery. Her father’s been on the run for years, but they think Avery will lead them to him.

    This is a really good thriller, loaded with twists and turns. I picked a few of them early on, but I missed the most important ones. And I think most readers will; Donlea plays the reader well, giving plenty of information but still neatly misleading. There’s a really interesting mystery at the heart of the novel – whether Victoria Ford is a murderer – and it’s been wrapped up in several other fascinating problems for the characters.

    The resolution of all these issues isn’t simple, but it’s credible and well worked out. I don’t think many, if any, readers will get there before Donlea wants us to. I was on edge literally till the last page.
    Those characters are strong, too. Avery is the most important, and we spend a fair bit of time with her. Despite her background, she’s drawn as an appealing person that many will sympathise with. Intelligent and emotionally complex, readers will engage with her searches.

    Walt Jenkins, the ex-FBI agent engaged to mislead and watch her, is a prickly character who also quickly becomes someone for the reader to care about. Problem is, he’s working against Avery. So who do we want to triumph? It’s another challenge for the reader.

    Interestingly, there seem to be a number of novels coming out now centring on people lost or presumed lost in the Twin Towers. No doubt it’s partly a function of the anniversary, but it’s still notable to see a number of novels with a similar theme emerge at the same time.

    This is a really compelling thriller. I found it hard to put down, and was genuinely surprised by the ending. Thriller fans will love this; crime fans are likely to enjoy it as well. Indeed, any reader who appreciates strong plots and strong characters should give this a try.

  3. Thank you Beauty and Lace for the opportunity to review Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea.

    This novel is a gripping thriller, Avery Mason who is the host of American Events tv show wants to uncover the truth behind her latest story which is a murder that is decades old. With DNA technology that’s new the New York examiner’s office has made it’s first successful identification of a 9/11 victim. The victim is Victoria Ford who had been accused of the murder of her married lover. In Victoria’s last phone call to her sister Emma Victoria urged her to prove that she is innocent. Emma has waited for 20 years to put her sister to rest, but she knows she won’t have closure until she clears Victoria’s name. .She can’t do it alone and needs Avery’s help. She knows Victoria had been having an affair with a successful novelist and he was found hanging from a balcony of his mansion in the Catskills. The crime scene had Victoria’s DNA all over it from the rope to the bedroom.

    Avery goes on a journey of Victoria’s private life where she finds there are others who are interested in Avery’s hidden past, one which she has kept hidden or so she thought.

    I really enjoyed this book and could not put it down. This is the first book of Charlie Donlea I have read but it won’t be the last. I highly recommend it to everyone.

  4. Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea is the first book I have read by this Author but won’t be my last as I enjoyed it very much. There was a lot of intrigue and many twists in this book. The story did bounce around a bit at the beginning which took a bit of getting used to and the characters were not particularly likeable. The use of Avery who hosted a true crime type show to uncover missed clues and injustice while hiding a big secret of her own created the many twists and led to a surprising ending.

    Thanks to Beauty and Lace and Penguin Random House for my copy for review and for helping me discover a new author.

  5. This is the first book I have read by Charlie Donlea and I was not disappointed!

    Twenty Years Later was an amazing read with a lot of twists and turns along the way! Twists and turns that I never saw coming!

    I highly recommend this book and will definitely be keen to add more books by Charlie to my bookshelf!

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Penguin Random House Australia for the opportunity to read and review this book.

  6. Wow! What can I say, I absolutely loved this book! I didn’t realise until I received this one that I had recently read another book by Charlie Donlea – The Suicide House – which I enjoyed but this one was even better.

    Victoria Ford’s remains have been identified twenty years after 9/11 and Avery Mason is an investigative journalist looking to make a case out of this for a twenty year anniversary special. Avery soon finds out that the story is much more interesting than she could have imagined when she learns Victoria was facing a murder charge for her lover. Avery is a fairly likable main character but she has many secrets of her own, and there is a second storyline that follows her biggest secret which has the potential to destroy everything for her.

    I found this book hard to put down, especially towards the end as the chapters got shorter and shorter. The end throws many twists and turns that you will not see coming! It left me lost for words – it was so perfectly thought out. I highly recommend this thriller – the storyline is amazing!

  7. I really enjoyed reading this book, the first of Charlie Donlea’s books I have read, I loved the gritty gumshoe noir style, it would make a fantastic movie, I could even picture Al Pacino cast in the lead role.

    The twists and turns in the novel kept me captivated, I loved each of the main characters broken back stories. Throw in CODIS data-bank, DNA sequencing, several million-dollar mansions, S&M a highly skilled detective forced to retire, forensic accountants investigating $30 billion swindled from investors, penthouses, an Aspen villa, St Bart’s beachfront condo’s, prestigious cars, the jet, a highly acclaimed and published author, a communications conglomerate and a highly ambitious host of a top rated TV current events show with a commensurate salary in the six figures, this book is action packed.

    This twenty-year-old mystery, born on the day the twin towers fell, alternates between the streets of Manhattan, the cliffs of Jamaica, the Catskill Mountains, and Lake Placid, Adirondack Mountains, with such precise descriptions, you can picture each destination as if you were there in the flesh.

    I really warmed to Avery, I could feel her frustration, and the manipulation she felt coming at her from numerous fronts, I enjoyed her investigative skills, how she delved just that little bit deeper, as the story unraveled. My feelings for Walt waxed and waned depending on which chapter I was reading at the time.

    This book was definitely a five-star read for me, thank you so much Beauty and Lace and Penguin Random House, I am definitely on the hunt now for Charlie Donlea’s back catalogue.

  8. Set in present day, Twenty Years Later by Charlie Donlea tells the story of Avery and Walt who find themselves working together to investigate the story of Victoria Ford who was set to face trial for her lovers murder. Before Victoria’s case can be heard she is trapped in the North Tower on September 11 and her remains found twenty years later (present day). Avery, a successful upcoming TV host, prepares to make this one of her news stories and so meets the investigator from the case twenty years ago, Walt – an exiled ex-FBI agent. Little does Avery know Walt has a case of his own providing surveillance on Avery to the FBI in attempt to locate her father – a man on the run for a Ponzi scheme that saw him steal billions of dollars. With plenty of suspense, mystery and twists, this was a thoroughly enjoyable read.

    Thank you to Beauty and Lace and Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review this book. I will be seeking out more of Charlie Donlea’s novels for sure!

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