Twenty Years Later: a book about so many secrets

What is this about?

When evidence comes to light identifying a victim of the 9/11 attacks, Avery Mason is ready to do an indepth human interest story about Victoria Ford. Then she starts investigating Victoria’s life, and realises she has so much more than a human interest story on the anniversary of 9/11.

What else is this about?

As much as Avery is investigating Victoria Ford, she is not without her own secrets.


Hiding her own dark past in plain sight, a TV reporter is determined to uncover the truth behind a gruesome murder decades after the investigation was abandoned. But TWENTY YEARS LATER, to understand the present, you need to listen to the past…

Avery Mason, host of American Events, knows the subjects that grab a TV audience’s attention. Her latest story—a murder mystery laced with kinky sex, tragedy, and betrayal—is guaranteed to be ratings gold. New DNA technology has allowed the New York medical examiner’s office to make its first successful identification of a 9/11 victim in years. The twist: the victim, Victoria Ford, had been accused of the gruesome murder of her married lover. In a chilling last phone call to her sister, Victoria begged her to prove her innocence.

Emma Kind has waited twenty years to put her sister to rest, but closure won’t be complete until she can clear Victoria’s name. Alone she’s had no luck, but she’s convinced that Avery’s connections and fame will help. Avery, hoping to negotiate a more lucrative network contract, goes into investigative overdrive. Victoria had been having an affair with a successful novelist, found hanging from the balcony of his Catskills mansion. The rope, the bedroom, and the entire crime scene was covered in Victoria’s DNA.

But the twisted puzzle of Victoria’s private life just the beginning. And what Avery doesn’t realize is that there are other players in the game who are interested in Avery’s own secret past—one she has kept hidden from both the network executives and her television audience. A secret she thought was dead and buried . . .

Accused of a brutal murder, Victoria Ford made a final chilling call from the North Tower on the morning of 9/11. Twenty years ago, no one listened. Today, you will

When I think of Twenty Years Later, the image of peeling an onion and its layers comes to mind. There are so many secrets and it seems like every character has something to hide.

Avery Mason is the new host of American Events, and much to everyone’s surprise, she’s extremely good at her job — so good in fact that she’s pulling in amazing audience numbers no one ever expected for a newbie host.

This is the jumping off point for the story, and readers’ introduction to Avery for her secrets play an important part in this story as much as her investigation into Victoria Ford does. To say Twenty Years Later is amibtious in the storylines it juggles and the timelines is somewhat of an understatement.

As her season closes, Avery’s contract is up for renegotiation and shaping her future lets us see a determined, ruthless woman who knows what she’s worth and will do what she needs to to get that. I loved that about her, I truly did — here’s a woman with an agent telling her to temper her expectations, and she’s showing him her audience numbers as the receipts for why she’s worth the money she wants. It also sets up for readers that she has a lot to lose.

As Avery sets off to investigate Victoria Ford, Donlea introduces us to the secrets she’s hiding and why the FBI is following her. We are also introduced to Walt, a consultant from the FBI that is brought in to do double duty: help Avery in her investigation of Victoria Ford and at the same time wait for her missing father to contact her. Why? Because he swindled investors out of money and ruined lives, including Avery’s.

So Victoria Ford: what I didn’t expect was Donlea’s detailed chapters of what Victoria went through to lead her to her lawyer’s offices in the Towers on 9/11. To be honest, parts of it were more detail than I thought necessary in some cases. However, we learn that Victoria is accused of murdering her ex-lover an was talking strategy with her lawyer when the planes hit. Avery is keen to investigate the crime she was accused of, and possibly prove her innocent.

Walt was the investigator on the original case that led to Victoria being accused of murder. He’s now retired and I know far too much about why he was retired, about his previous love life and so many other things. Some of this is interesting, but I didn’t see it have much relevance to the overall story and it slowed down parts of the story for me. Things could have been much more streamlined. I suppose it was used to create in part a deeper relationship with Avery and Walt, but again, a romance wasn’t necessary in this book. He could have showed an attraction and have them walk into the sunset or something, but not a romance with this level of detail when far more interesting things were happening.

The thing that annoyed me too about the romance was that Avery and Walt, before the romance, were fantastic partners in investigating Victoria and it was clear there was a romance brewing between them — but I didn’t feel like the book needed that romance.

Anyway, enough of that…

The conclusion of the two storylines in this book was absolutely riveting but there’s one part of it that was very out of left field for me. That said, for all its flaws, Twenty Years Later was an engrossing read nonetheless and should be on your TBR.


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