Something sinuous in the water brushed against Paige’s knee. She jerked her leg away. What was that? She rose to a sitting position, groped around with her left hand. Fine wisps wound themselves around her fingers. Hair? She yanked backward, but the tendrils clung. Something solid bumped her wrist. Paige gasped. With one frantic motion she shook her arm free, grabbed the side of the hot tub, and heaved herself out. Paige Williams slips into her hot tub in the blackness of night—and finds herself face to face with death. Alone, terrified, fleeing a dark past, Paige must make an unthinkable choice. In Violet Dawn, hurtling events and richly drawn characters collide in a breathless story of murder, the need to belong, and faith’s first glimmer. One woman’s secrets unleash an entire town’s pursuit, and the truth proves as elusive as the killer in their midst.
As a shy newcomer in the tiny tourist community of Kanner Lake, Idaho, Paige Williams is already considered reclusive by the gregarious standards of the village. But townspeople don't realize that Paige is fleeing a past so damaging that when she discovers a dead body, she dispenses with the evidence and hides the truth rather than go to the police, whom she mistrusts. With this opener, Collins (Dead of Night) spins a tale of murder in a smalltown with an added twist of Christian faith, which is lightly handled. The writing is competent for the most part, with false notes occurring in some formal and stilted dialogue and Collins's penchant for overusing dramatic similes ("her heart drummed like the rataplan of rain on a roof"). One real strength is Collins's skill in handling multiple points of view and time shifts, which flow easily together and advance the plot. Short chapterlets keep the story moving, particularly in the fast-paced final third of the novel, and Collins throws in some interesting details of police procedure and crime scene investigation. Some characters, like the town's tough-but-tender police chief, are beautifully developed, while others, such as the monologues and predictability of the villain, are flat. In all, however, this is a promising and entertaining beginning to the Kanner Lake series.