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Gone to Ground

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The Advocate

Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins

Reviewed by Dale Lewis

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"Simply put, Brandilyn is a consummate storyteller and prolific author."

Among the good citizens of Amaryllis, Mississippi lives a serial killer. The bright and fragrant Amaryllis flower appears harmless and benign, much like the town of Amaryllis. Yet the Amaryllis flower oozes poison. Three years, five unsolved murders, all female victims and now a sixth. Within this small town, full of a rich heritage, are three terrified women 100 percent certain they know the murderer. But each suspects a different man.

Meet Cherrie Mae, an African-American in her 60s, who runs her own housecleaning business and reads plenty of classic literature, quoting it more often than not. Deena, white and 32 years old, runs her own hair salon and is the ex-wife of a police officer. Then there is Tully who at 19 is ready to give birth to her first child and feeling trapped by an abusive husband.

Each protagonist is given a distinct voice in the storyline. Unique in perspective due to life’s experiences, they must individually make the difficult decision to stop the senseless murders by whatever means possible.

Within these pages, you’ll find yourself on the streets of this hospitable southern town attempting to put the pieces together. Some of your suspicions will be confirmed while others will fall to the wayside. The innocent won’t be squeaky clean while the appearance of evil will be cloaked.

One of Brandilyn’s writing hallmarks is her thorough character development: not only the strong “leads” but also those in supporting roles. They are believable and endearing. According to a recent online interview, she stated this was the first time she ran multiple first person points of view in a novel. Her consistent and deep characterization is the result of importing techniques from the art of method acting. Research is a key necessity for Collins. She takes her craft seriously!

I found the inclusion of the newspaper articles from the Jackson Bugle a creative means to provide both background history to Amaryllis and how the killings had affected the people.

The intensity of the murder mystery is balanced by Collins’ superb transitions and continuity of the first person narrative as well as the perfectly placed moments of lightheartedness and humor.

The conclusion will catch you by surprise in so many ways. Simply put, Brandilyn is a consummate storyteller and prolific author. Prepare to be enthralled by the characters and their stories in Gone To Ground!

Dale Lewis now mans the front desk at the EFCA (The Evangelical Free Church of America) National Office in Minneapolis, MN. He was the graphic designer/pre-press production artist for over twelve years before being asked to step into this new role. Prior to that, he was the publications manager at his alma mater, Northwestern College in St. Paul, MN in the public relations office as well as the adviser to the college’s yearbook. He's a director/actor/writer for the Hope Church (Oakdale, MN) adult drama worship team and was the senior editor of the church newsletter. He's also written two collections of poetry, “Whispers of Assurance” and “On Life: Constant Communion Without Ceasing” as well as a devotional entitled “Eternal Education.” He and his family live in Oakdale, Minnesota.