THOSE EMPTY EYES: Discussion Questions

  1. In Those Empty Eyes we see first-hand how the media can influence the public’s perception of a story. How do you think our consumption of crime-related media influences us in general?
  2. What do you think it means for someone to have ‘empty eyes’?
  3. How does shock and trauma impact the response of victims, or suspects, in a criminal case? Was it fair of the media to immediately label Alexandra as someone suspect because of her reactions to the crime?
  4. Alex’s traumatic experiences led her to becoming a legal investigator to help others in positions like she once found herself. Can you pinpoint a moment, or experience, that looking back you see has influenced your life choices?
  5. Donlea explores the double-sided benefits and harm of people who consider themselves true crime fanatics—what are your feelings on this sudden rise of interest in true crime? Does it help or hurt us?
  6. Let’s talk power-dynamics, Those Empty Eyes, looks at multiple forms of power dynamics, from the press, to legal institutions, wealth, and social status—and how they can corrupt a system. But are there some ways power dynamics can be used for good?

You know her name.
You know her face.
You know those eyes

Ten years after she was exonerated for the slaughter of her family, the girl the tabloids called “Empty Eyes” is the only one looking for the truth in this propulsive thriller from #1 internationally bestselling author Charlie Donlea.

“Excellent…Engrossing…This searing look at the legal system, entitlement, and exploitation is not to be missed.” – Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

“Draws readers in from the first heart-stopping pages and doesn’t let go until the end.” – Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author of Local Woman Missing

Alex Armstrong has changed everything about herself—her name, her appearance, her backstory. She’s no longer the terrified teenager a rapt audience saw on television, emerging in handcuffs from the quiet suburban home the night her family was massacred. That girl, Alexandra Quinlan, nicknamed Empty Eyes by the media, was accused of the killings, fought to clear her name, and later took the stand during her highly publicized defamation lawsuit that captured the attention of the nation.

It’s been ten years since, and Alex hasn’t stopped searching for answers about the night her family was killed, even as she continues to hide her real identity from true crime fanatics and grasping reporters still desperate to locate her. As a legal investigator, she works tirelessly to secure justice for others, too. People like Matthew Claymore, who’s under suspicion in the disappearance of his girlfriend, a student journalist named Laura McAllister.

Laura was about to break a major story about rape and cover-ups on her college campus. Alex believes Matthew is innocent, and unearths stunning revelations about the university’s faculty, fraternity members, and powerful parents willing to do anything to protect their children.

Most shocking of all—as Alex digs into Laura’s disappearance, she realizes there are unexpected connections to the murder of her own family. For as different as the crimes may seem, they each hinge on one sinister truth: no one is quite who they seem to be . . .