I have to admit, the cover of Gone to Ground by Brandilyn Collins drew me in instantly. There is blood dripping from that flower. Totally CREEPY!! I thought there has to be a story here. I didn't even know what the book was about, but I knew I wanted to read it. There is something sinister behind that flower. It's an Amaryllis flower. It's a poisonous flower, that doesn't bode well for the characters in this book.
In the small town of Amaryllis, Mississippi everybody knows each other. Gossip, good and bad, spreads quickly in Amaryllis. But there is something deeply wrong in Amaryllis. Five unsolved murders in the last three years. The victims were of various races and ages. They were all killed with a precise cut to the neck, left to bleed to death in their closets, leading police to dub the murderer "The Closet Killer." Who is doing it? Why? What is there to gain? Three local women think they know the answers.
Cherrie Mae has worked her whole life. She worked hard raising her children. After working long hours cleaning houses, Cherrie Mae finds joy sitting in her favorite chair curled up with a book. Books are her refuge. Everyday she's quick to dispense quotes of wisdom from her favorite books. If she could, Cherrie Mae would spend her days reading. I found it refreshing. I don't come across many books with characters who embrace books. Her wealth of knowledge seemed to make Cherrie Mae more aware of her surroundings and people. She picks up on little things that others might miss. She is full of curiosity. That curiosity could be her downfall. While cleaning Mayor B's house, Cherrie Mae comes across some rather incriminating evidence, a file full of pictures of the murder victims. At first that's not so strange, he is the mayor. Shouldn't he want to keep up on the case? Except he has a ring that belongs to Erika Hollinger, the sixth and latest victim. What would he need the ring for? Maybe Cherrie Mae is on to something. But it can't be that easy.
Tully is certain her husband Michael is the culprit. He had an affair with Erika, he is extremely violent with Tully despite her pregnancy, and he threatened to kill Erika. He even acted rather suspicious after Erika's death. Maybe he did it. As the book progressed it seemed like Michael had more of a motive than Mayor B. I wanted it to be him because he seemed like such a jerk. Tully is so afraid to step away from Michael. She doesn't want to be a burden on her family. She has to figure this out. She can't raise her baby with a murderer.
Then there is Deena, one of the town's hairstylist's. She's privy to all the town gossip, courtesy of her chatty customers. Everyone has their own opinion on the murders, including Deena. She's certain her brother Stevie is the killer. On the night of Erika's murderer Deena saw him covered in blood. Did he do it? Why? What does Stevie have to gain? He's never been popular in town. His mind works differently from everyone in town. He's often the scapegoat or the butt of jokes. But that doesn't make him a murderer. To me, Stevie didn't seem to have the makeup of a killer. When he's pressed or confused, Stevie shuts people out, including Deena. All of that put together might not make him a killer, but Deena can't be sure.
The story is very engaging. After about 100 pages, I was really into the book. Towards the end I was speedreading because I wanted to know who did it. The book is very suspenseful. You wonder if these women will make it to the end of the book. You feel their fear right along with them, especially Tully. With every chapter, Michael seemed like he was on the verge of snapping. If Tully said the wrong thing, she could have been killed.
Throughout the book, I went back and forth on who the killer was.
We're given three suspects, but that seemed a little too neat. Too
obvious. Maybe I watch too much Law & Order and CSI, but usually the
most obvious choice isn't the killer. Then I thought, did all three of
them do it? Given their personalities and status in town, it seemed
unlikely Mayor B, Michael, and Stevie were partners. Not that I know
any, but don't most serial killers work alone? When I finally learned who the killer was, it made sense. The clues were there, I loved that about the book. I hate it when a book or even a movie makes a totally random character the culprit. You feel like you've been had when that happens. I'm glad that wasn't the case here and I would gladly read another book by Brandilyn Collins.
Note: I received a copy of the book from PR by the Book in exchange for an honest review.