I always enjoy reading the latest Christian thriller by Brandilyn Collins; in fact, her novels are part of the inspiration that got me started writing my own stories. Not to mention that each novel offers a wonderful blueprint of how a Christian suspense novel should be written.
Each time I read another of her novels, I learn more about plotting, pacing, and all the other necessary ingredients for a good plot to work. But this novel especially caught my attention when I read the back-cover burb.
The novel I’m working on now, my third, has a few similarities to Brandilyn’s premise (the protagonist needs brain surgery and gets an implant that offers more than anyone expects). So when I read her blurb, I thought, Oh no. Somebody beat me to it. But thankfully her story goes in a very different direction from mine.
That being said, Double Blind in an amazing thriller with faith elements, a murder mystery, and even a little medical science fiction thrown in. Let’s take a closer look.
What the Novel Is About
Life has delivered twenty-nine-year old Lisa Newberry a severe blow. Her husband recently died, and she’s suffered several miscarriages–all tragic events contributing to her severe depression. She’s so depressed, in fact, that she leaps at the chance of participating in a medical trial. There’s a new brain chip that supposedly helps heal depression, but participating in the trial doesn’t ensure success. She may get the real Empowerment Chip or a placebo.
After undergoing the procedure, Lisa is confident she has the real deal when the emotional pain of her past no longer afflicts her. But in the place of that emotional pain is something new she didn’t bargain for: bizarre full-sensory visions of a woman being murdered, and get this—she sees the murder through the eyes of the man committing the deed.
With only the brain chip to blame for these bizarre episodes, Lisa begins a quest for the truth, first with those in charge of the medical trial. Then she discovers the woman in her vision is a real person, and the real fun begins.
What I Liked
Rarely do I read a novel that pleases me in every aspect. And I like to be fully honest about books I read and recommend to others, but I will strive to be blanced, so here goes:
Double Blind is vintage Collins but with a seemingly supernatural twist that may take some readers by surprise. The sci fi-flavored premise might cause some readers to pause, but the remainder of the story unfolds like a typical whodunit.
The questions this premise poses are numerous: Was the woman in Lisa’s vision a real person who was murdered? If so, who was the man who murdered her? And could the brain chip possibly give her someone else’s point of view of a murder?
Careful here. Things aren’t quite what they seem, and readers who’ve purchased this ticket are in for a very enjoyable ride. Just when you think you’ve got everything figured out, look out. You may be in for a surprise. Collins impresses as usual. Amazing.
I especially liked the tension between Lisa and her domineering mother, for whom Lisa was never quite good enough as a child. The emotional healing that needs to take place between them in this subplot is touching and well done. The faith elements are mild, but there’s enough here to make readers think. At least one Bible verse is referred to.
Here’s something else I love about Collins’s novels. You’ll never find cursing, crude language, or sensual scenes in her novels. They are always squeaky clean, so I can pass them on to my family and friends without reservation.
One of my chief criticisms of some Chrisitan suspense is that the premise sometimes feels old, as if authors have written that one a thousand times before. I’m weary of convention, and this novel shines in the category of being unique. I guarantee you’ve probably never read a Christian suspense novel quite like this one.
What Made Me Pause
Remember, I like being fully honest in my reviews, but I also want to be kind. There was only one aspect of the story that made me pause. I struggled to believe that someone could be so depressed that he or she would resort to brain surgery. That step just seems so drastic. And if Lisa is a Christian character, she should realize that the solution to her emotional problems rests in her relationship with Christ. He alone can fix her.
But…To be fair, maybe I’ve never known anyone as depressed as Lisa. Maybe medical procedures can help someone who reaches a certain point. And maybe Lisa is still growing in her relationship with God and hasn’t yet reached the point of going to Him with her emotional issues.
Once I got past my initial struggle with the premise, the rest of the novel was a very enjoyable ride with enough amazing twists and turns in the plot to keep the reader glued and sometimes gasping for air. I had a hard time putting the book down, and once more I was impressed with the writing, with the story, and with the ending I never saw coming.
As usual with Collins, the pacing is impeccable, the characters engaging, the dialogue fresh, and the tension unrelenting. The suspense frankly sizzles on each page. Add in a realistic faith struggle, and you’ve got a real winner here. Even better, this plot isn’t the same old, same old. Collins gets a solid ten in originality. If you read just one Christian suspense novel this summer, I highly recommend Double Blind.
**Which is the best Christian novel you’ve read so far this year? Let me know in the comments, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a free e-book copy of my latest novel, The Tenth Plague. I’ll announce the winner on May 8.**
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