By Brandilyn Collins
Publisher: B&H Books (March 1, 2012)
Paperback: 352 pages
Amaryllis, Mississippi is a scrappy little town of strong backbone and southern hospitality. A brick-paved Main Street, a park, and a legendary ghost in the local cemetery are all part of its heritage. Everybody knows everybody in Amaryllis, and gossip wafts on the breeze. Its people are friendly, its families tight. On the surface Amaryllis seems much like the flower for which it’s named—bright and fragrant. But the Amaryllis flower is poison.
In the past three years five unsolved murders have occurred within the town. All the victims were women, and all were killed in similar fashion in their own homes. And just two nights ago—a sixth murder.
Clearly a killer lives among the good citizens of Amaryllis. And now three terrified women are sure they know who he is—someone they love. None is aware of the others’ suspicions. And each must make the heartrending choice to bring the killer down. But each woman suspects a different man.
Gone to Ground certainly starts with an intriguing premise. A small, everyone-knows-your-name town is plagued by a serial killer. The tension is heightened when we are introduced to three women who believe they know the killer personally. One suspects her boss, another her husband, and the third, her misfit brother. All three are placed on precarious footing as they long for answers, while hoping for secrecy.
Character number one, Chery Mae, isn’t a busy-body nor one to poke through other people’s business. But being a housekeeper does make her privy to private, even scandalous information. If nothing else, the job has taught her people aren’t who they seem. After all her years of mucking through other people’s dirty laundry, Chery Mae’s learned to keep secrets where they belong—stored away in her head. But when she finds a piece of jewelry belonging to the victim among her boss’s things, her mind begins to spin. The mayor is anything but a saint, but a killer?
Then there’s Tully. She married the man of her dreams, only to find him less than dreamy. So less than, in fact, she thinks he may be the serial killer. Which wouldn’t be such a far stretch—him killing other women, because he beats her. He’s moody and suddenly acting like he’s got something to hide—more than the scandalous photos she saw.
Finally, there’s Deena, a sassy hairdresser who hates the police and vehemently protects her brother…who she thinks might be the killer. To most, her brother’s a downtrodden social outcast, but she’s seen a different side, and the rage that simmers.
Three women, three suspects, five murders, and climbing.
Although this novel wasn’t as suspenseful as I’d expect from Brandilyn Collins, I enjoyed the unique women she crafted and her flawless writing. I easily visualized the setting and the characters and had no problem following the story-line. There were times I found the novel repetitive when the same information was presented either through one of the three women or through one of the frequent news articles sprinkled between them, but the characters were appealing enough to compensate for this.
I found the inclusion of numerous articles unique; however, I think it would have been stronger if I’d been offered snippets from them instead of the entire articles themselves. It was an enjoyable read with a unique plot and a colorful cast.
Reviewed by: Jennifer Slattery