Thursday, April 25, 2013

Book Review: Dark Pursuit by Brandilyn Collins

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Suspensful plot
Cons: Tacked on character arcs and Christianity
The Bottom Line:
Plot will pull you in
Characters could be better
But you'll hardly care

Can Darrell Unravel the Plot of His Life?

I like to think I have some feel for the popular authors in Christian fiction.  But somehow I had missed Brandilyn Collins until I was offered an advanced copy of her new stand alone novel Dark Pursuit.  Turns out she is a best selling author with Zondervan, one of the major Christian fiction publishers.  I started the book with high hopes, and they were met.

Darrell Brooke has a well earned reputation as the "King of Suspense."  His novels are automatic best sellers and his legion of fans is huge.  But that was before the auto accident that left him physically and mentally weak.  Now he can't even concentrate to figure out the plot of his one hundredth novel.  And he's been working on it for a year.

Meanwhile, across town, Kaitlan Sering arrives home from work early one day to find a dead body in her bed, the third in the small town in a year.  The evidence in her apartment makes it obvious that it is her boyfriend, Craig.  Since Craig is a police officer and the son of the police chief, she thinks that Craig and his dad have been surpressing evidence, so she can't just call the cops.  She runs to the only place she feels she can, her estranged grandfather Darrell Brooke.

With her very life in Darrell's hands, Kaitlan has to trust that he will come through for her.  But can he overcome his mental fog long enough to pilot Kaitlan through this real life thriller?

I can see why Brandilyn Collins has earned herself fans.  This book started strong and only got stronger.  There were so many times I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to get the characters to safety.  And they were so very rarely safe.  A couple spots seemed a tad slow to me, but I'm being nit picky here.

The book is told from multiple third person viewpoints, which certainly adds to the suspense.  Interspersed through the mostly short chapters were a few passages from Darrell's in progress book and another manuscript.  Both added to the story.

The main characters were fairly well developed.  I liked Kaitlan easily enough, and Darrell's assistant Margaret was wonderful.  I found Darrell too much of a grouch, and he got on my nerves by the half way point.  How the other two put up with him, especially Margaret, is beyond me.

Which brings up my other complain revolving around the characters.  The last couple chapters attempted to resolve some character arcs/sub-plots.  But I didn't feel the rest of the book supported them.  The result felt forced and rushed.

The Christianity aspect similarly felted tacked on.  There are some references to God, but not enough to really make it a part of the story.  Of course, that does mean that those who want to read a great novel without being preached to have nothing to fear here.

I often find the writing in Christian novels to be weak, but that wasn't the case here.  The writing was perfect for getting us into the story without distracting.  And I'm glad because it made it that much easier to race to the heart pounding ending.

I wasn't looking for another author for my to be read list, but I found one.  I hope the rest of Brandilyn Collin's novels live up to the level of Dark Pursuit.

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