Author:  Brandilyn Collins
Title:  Violet Dawn
Publisher:  Zondervan
 
Paige Williams is a young woman with a troubled past. She yearns for friends and a new life in peaceful Kanner Lake, Idaho. Finding a dead body isn't going to help, especially when she knows the victim. But Paige can't call the police. How could she possibly explain she's clueless where the body came from? And what if her face ends up on TV? She's forced to take matters into her own hands, even as the real killer remains on the lam . . . watching her.

When you pick up a novel and the main character discovers a body in her hot tub by page four, chances are you're probably going to read on to find out how it got there. But when you know the author of the book is Brandilyn Collins, you'll want to hunker down and prepare for the thrill-ride. Violet Dawn marks the start of a new "Seatbelt Suspense" series for Collins. Closer to her first two suspense novels Eyes of Elisha and Dread Champion for its third-person narrative and multiple character story arc, Violet Dawn is a solid first book. Savvy readers might manage to guess the final twist, but even if you do, it will only heighten the suspense.

Paige is immediately a sympathetic character, and I found myself completely empathizing with her struggles. But Violet Dawn isn't only Paige's story. The book also follows to a lesser degree several other intriguing characters—police chief Vince Edwards who's grieving his son's recent death, rookie reporter Leslie Brymes who's desperate for the "big story", coffee-shop owner Bailey Truitt, and of course, the villain who calls himself Black Mamba. There are also several eccentrics haunting Bailey's Java Joint, who are destined to make readers chuckle. Many of their fun musings can be read at the Scenes and Beans blog (kannerlake.blogspot.com).

Even more sympathetic than Paige are the heart-rending flashback scenes following an abused girl named Rachel Brandt. Sometimes time jumps can be unnecessary and boring in novels, but not in Violet Dawn. Rachel's scenes are some of the best written in the book, embellishing and deepening the story. Which just goes to show Brandilyn's skill. She's able to switch between thrilling suspense numbers to the compelling character pieces without losing us.

There were a few times when I was slightly distracted by what I affectionately call "Brandilisms," being Collins' penchant for using imaginative verbs and metaphors, but these have also become a familiar trademark many fans will enjoy.

A thrilling, taut page-turner, Violet Dawn is Brandilyn Collins at her best. Book two, please!



   
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