Miracle in a Dry Season    Dangerous Passage

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Coral Moon
by Brandilyn Collins

Reviewed by Darcie Gudger

"I'm not sure a seatbelt is an adequate restraint for the ride Coral Moon gives readers. Restraints used to keep astronauts in place during shuttle lift off are more appropriate!"

Members of the Big Honkin’ Chicken Club need not pick up this spine-tingling, hair-raising, nightmare evoking thriller by Brandilyn Collins. If you do, it may be in your best interest to have the phone nearby to dial 911 when the plot grows too intense for you.

Kanner Lake beat reporter Leslie Brymes is still descending from her moment in the spotlight covering the Edna Sans murder a few months back. Tension builds in the tiny resort town once more as residents take sides for or against the development of a hotel on the lake’s shore. Leslie, armed with her notepad, heads to her bright yellow VW bug. Someone is sitting in the driver’s seat. At first she thinks it’s her roommate, Paige, playing a prank. But when she opens the door, pulling away the towel over the head, she finds a body! A body with its head mashed in. A body of someone near and dear to her. A body with a circled number one pinned to it.

Residents reel in the horror as news of another murder circulates through town. When another body turns up as a “present” for Leslie wearing a number 3 on its chest, the over-taxed police department desperately searches for the missing number two victim.

Forensic clues found on the murder victims point to a most implausible suspect. Leslie and Police Chief Vince Edwards find themselves wondering if the dead can kill.

“Seatbelt Suspense: Don’t forget to breathe…” is how Brandilyn brands her writing. I’m not sure a seatbelt is an adequate restraint for the ride Coral Moon gives readers. Restraints used to keep astronauts in place during shuttle lift off are more appropriate! Fast and furious pacing will cause readers to forget to breathe. Have a canister of oxygen handy.

Coral Moon delves deeply into the spiritual realm, dealing with tough theological issues of demon possession and ghosts. Do the non-corporeal demons have the power to influence human behavior and take human form? Can the dead return when beckoned? Collins wisely has her characters turn to the Bible for answers in a way that feels natural rather than in-your-face-preachy.

Collins’ ability to bring characters to life rivals that of Barbara Kingsolver. She masterfully writes from multiple points of view with such clarity, the reader truly believes they are in the character’s head. I have not experienced such skillful use of POV since I read Kingsolver’s Poisonwood Bible several years ago. The suspense/horror factor is on par with Dean Koontz. Overcome by the need to know what happens next, I took the book into the bathroom with me, causing my husband to think I fell in when I didn’t emerge for nearly an hour!

If you’re afraid of the dark, live in a house that squeaks, or are terrified by things that go bump in the night, try reading Coral Moon in broad daylight. Big Honkin’ Chicken Clubbers beware– you won’t survive this novel. Suspense/thriller fans, you will NOT be disappointed one iota. You’ll be begging for the next installment in the series

Darcie Gudger is a freelance writer currently working on a young adult novel while trying to solve all the mysteries of motherhood with her adopted son, Kyle. In her spare time, she coaches the 2A Colorado State Champion Sheridan High School colorguard, judged equipment for the Rocky Mountain Colorguard Association and sings for the Bear Valley church choir and worship team. An adventure-seeker who lives and writes in the shadow of the Rocky mountains, Darcie loves hiking, camping, cycling, photography and keeping her husband guessing. Visit Darcie online at her blog, Joy in the Litterbox.