Reviewed by C.J. Darlington
Web of Lies by Brandilyn Collins
"...a satisfying and simultaneous wrap-up of two bestselling series. "
Brandilyn Collins fans have followed forensic artist and single-mom Annie Kingston through three hair-raising books in the Hidden Faces series–Brink of Death, Stain of Guilt, and Dead of Night. But before Hidden Faces, there was Chelsea Adams. Her crime fighting visions from God are infamous in Eyes of Elisha and Dread Champion. In Collins’ latest offering, Web of Lies, she skillfully brings the two women together by combining their completely different storylines. Not an easy feat, considering one series was written in first person, the other in third.
Annie Kingston isn’t looking for trouble, but it always has a way of finding her. She’s endured a myriad of trials in the last few years, including a bitter divorce, a rebellious son’s drug problem, and numerous threats on her life. This time she’s outside a 7-Eleven right when a gun wielding man opens fire. Within seconds one man lies dead, another wounded, and the killer gets away. The police call on Annie to draw a composite of the shooter based on the wounded man’s testimony.
Meanwhile, Chelsea Adams has just had one of her most disturbing straight-from-a-horror-movie visions, and she urgently tries to speak with Annie. Annie is wary – could God really have given Chelsea this vision to help police with the shooting case? Agreeing to draw the face Chelsea saw, both women are quickly thrust into a game more complicated and deadly than they could’ve imagined. Can they convince the police to take Chelsea’s vision seriously before more people die?
Complicating things further is the discovery of a skeleton near Annie’s home. With her life now being threatened, she’s called upon to attempt her most challenging drawing to date – a facial reconstruction. With time running out, Annie and Chelsea find themselves trapped not only in a web of lies, but of fear. They struggle to trust God as one thing becomes increasingly certain -- there’s more to this investigation than first meets the eye.
Known for her “Seatbelt Suspense”, Brandilyn doesn’t disappoint in Web of Lies. It’s a roller coaster from page 1 as we speed along with Annie and Chelsea on their wild ride. Avid fans will be pleased to find Brandilyn’s flair for dramatic turns of phrase to be especially prominent, and the re-appearance of reporter Milt Waking (of Chelsea Adams series fame) as an important part in the novel was a clever addition. As with the other Hidden Faces novels, the villain also gets page time. I found his chilling scenes to be some of the best writing in the book. I would’ve liked to have seen a little more emphasis on the development of Annie’s family members, but I can understand why they had to take backstage this time.
Without giving too much away, I will reveal that Brandilyn refers to Web of Lies as her “spider book”. And when poisonous arachnids appear in a crime novel, you can rightly guess they won’t be lounging around in locked terrariums. Suspense and mystery readers alike will find much to enjoy in this novel’s numerous twists and turns, and the squeamish among us will be happy to know Brandilyn never resorts to gratuitous violence or gore. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Annie’s spiritual journey has also played a critical role in the series, but it’s a believable journey that’s never hammered over reader’s heads.
I daresay Brandilyn Collins could be the Queen of Christian suspense, and Web of Lies is a satisfying and simultaneous wrap-up of two bestselling series.
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.