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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Book Review: Deceit by Brandilyn Collins

What a fun novel by Brandilyn Collins! She never disappoints. As usual, she pulled out all the stops and offered another suspense tale ripped from the headlines and demanding compulsive reading until the very last line. I loved Deceit and wanted to post my thoughts about it here.

In this tale, skip tracer Joanne Weeks is convinced that Baxter Jackson killed his second wife (Joanne's best friend) seven years ago. She uses her skip tracing skills to try locating Melissa Harkoff, who supposedly knows where Baxter hid the body of Linda Jackson. With this forensic evidence, Joanne is convinced that the police will be able to put Baxter away. The problems, of course, are that somebody is coming after Joanne and that tracking Melissa down isn't quite so simple, even for an expert skip tracer.

When I began this novel, I had no clue what skip tracing was. I'd never heard of it, and I consider myself to be a pretty well-read and knowledgeable person. I remember turning to my wife and asking, "Skip tracing—ever heard of it?" Now that I understand it better, I can easily see Collins featuring Joanne in future novels. The skill is perfect for any type of crime investigation. I enjoyed learning about this new skill, and I also liked Collins's new character, Joanne. She mourns her dead husband and is addicted to Jelly Bellies. The only dimension to Joanne's character that was a groaner for me was her affection for eighties rock and her pop references to groups like Chicago and Aerosmith. To her credit, Collins creates a clever twist using a song title toward the end. Very well executed.

Along the way, I was frustrated when Joanne continually lies to further her investigation. I was so impressed when Collins exposed Joanne's problem with deception. She also raises an ethical question about how law enforcement conducts its business. Is it ever right for a believer to lie to get information or to hunt down a killer or his victim? This spiritual question hit home for me because we are all tempted to whitewash the truth from time to time.

Bottom line? What a great novel! Collins is a veteran at Christian suspense, and it shows. The pace never let up, and the pages were flying. I had to know how this story was going to end—and I wasn't disappointed. Whenever I read Collins, I learn so much about dialogue, plotting, police procedure, characterizations, and how to describe suspenseful moments, so I always keep her novels for repeat readings and further study. Seriously, her novels are some of the best textbooks you'll find on the craft. Deceit happily claims a spot on my shelf beside Dark Pursuit. Way to go, Brandilyn! I've still got Exposure on my dresser and plan to read it soon.

Note: I received my copy of Deceit courtesy of Zondervan for the CFBA. 

1 comment:

  1. Adam, thanks so much. Very glad to hear you liked the book. :]

    ~ Brandilyn