Book Title: Gone To Ground
Author: Brandilyn Collins
Original Publication Date: 2012
Edition Read: 2012 ARC, B&H Publishing Group
Total Pages: 322
Reason Read: Received as an Advanced Reader’s Copy anticipating a review
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
“People in town declare this and that about the murders. Everybody is a suspect, and nobody at all. They lock their doors and whisper their suspicions over the phone. I lock my doors too, when Mike is at work. He doesn’t get off until 11:00 p.m. – long after dark, even in the summer.
“My mom thinks the killer is somebody in the next town or beyond. Some psycho who creeps in, murders our women, then steals away. Couldn’t be one of us, she says. Not in Amaryllis. I used to think that too. I wanted to believe it.
“Now I know she’s wrong. He lives right here among us, all right. But if I tell, I’m dead.
“The killer is my husband.”- Page 19
When I received an e-mail from the PR firm promoting the launch of this book’s publication, I was instantly intrigued by the plot description. Maybe it’s because I am a sucker for the show, Criminal Minds, about profiling murderers. Or that my family hails from the South. Or that I love books such as The Help which tell their tale through the voices of a variety of narrators. Whatever the draw, I quickly raised my hand for a copy of Gone To Ground.
Over the past three years, six women in a sleepy Mississippi town have been stabbed in the neck and dumped in their closets by the murderer on the loose nicknamed the Closet Killer. The first five victims were all older women – widows and retirees. The most recent one, although also widowed, was only in her twenties. With this change in the killer’s demographic, the town is even more on edge. Any woman could be next.
And any person could be the killer. Three women have evidence that points the finger directly at someone they know. Someone they don’t want to be guilty. But these three women each think they are the only one with incriminating evidence. And they each have incriminating evidence against three separate people. Will any of them have the heart or nerve to turn over their evidence? Will their lives be in danger if they do? Which of them is involved with the real serial killer? Or is there more than one killer at work?
I don’t read a lot of mysteries because I am often let down. I despise a plot that I can figure out early on. I want to figure it out the page before the big reveal. I like to go on that ride, flip flopping between suspects and pondering why specific details are given to us. Because a writer worth their salt never provides a detail without there being a reason for the reader to know about it. Ms. Collins is a writer worth her salt. She has written a clever and engaging plot that kept me guessing right up to the end. She also put me on the edge of my seat, getting that heart rate up – which is good considering I have been skimping out on my daily exercise. Do you think if I just read lots of mysteries and thrillers I’d never have to do cardio again?
Our narrators are three women of varying ages and with different sensibilities. Carrie Mae is a widowed housekeeper approaching retirement. Deena is a middle-aged divorcee running her own business. Tully is a pregnant newlywed just out of high school. They all know each other, but not well or socially – until folks start getting arrested. This is when they form an unlikely bond and begin to work together. We get the pieces of the Closet Killer story through each of them in alternating chapters told in the first person. The chapters are interspersed with sections of the local newspaper’s feature article on the killings to fill in more details and provide a different perspective on the town, the killings and their impact on everyone.
About those articles – I must say that they were a bit confusing to me at first. I didn’t understand if they were part of the story or some type of excerpt from a real article that the book used for inspiration. The articles are always prefaced by a real website address, the same date and headline. It took me a while to understand that they were continued pieces of one long feature article rather than the same article being re-written over and over. And that this was indeed part of the story and not a true excerpt.
I wasn’t a huge fan of the dialect written out. Not because I didn’t understand the words but because I felt like it was for effect rather than effective. Perhaps because every single word’s pronunciation for certain characters was written this way rather than just picking a few to highlight and get the point across? I don’t know. I felt like I got the point and didn’t need to be hit over the head with it. I’ve read plenty of Faulkner in my day and he writes dialect all the time. For some reason that never bothers me. Here, it did.
Aside from those two issues, I loved this book. I had a hard time putting it down and not thinking through all the details until I could get back to the story again. It was a quick and easy read, but one that got the wheels turning, heart racing and even had me turning back to certain chapters to re-visit certain clues. I highly recommend!