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Brink of Death

Brink of Death

4.5 23
by Brandilyn Collins

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The noises, faint, fleeting, whispered into her consciousness like wraiths passing in the night. Twelve-year-old Erin Willit opened her eyes to darkness lit only by the dim green nightlight near her closet door and the faint glow of a street lamp through her front window. She felt her forehead wrinkle, the fingers of one hand curl as she tried to discern what had


The noises, faint, fleeting, whispered into her consciousness like wraiths passing in the night. Twelve-year-old Erin Willit opened her eyes to darkness lit only by the dim green nightlight near her closet door and the faint glow of a street lamp through her front window. She felt her forehead wrinkle, the fingers of one hand curl as she tried to discern what had awakened her. Something was not right . . . Annie Kingston moves to Grove Landing for safety and quiet—and comes face to face with evil. When neighbor Lisa Willet is killed by an intruder in her home, Sheriff’s detectives are left with little evidence. Lisa’s daughter, Erin, saw the killer, but she’s too traumatized to give a description. The detectives grow desperate. Because of her background in art, Annie is asked to question Erin and draw a composite. But Annie knows little about forensic art or the sensitive interview process. A nonbeliever, she finds herself begging God for help. What if her lack of experience leads Erin astray? The detectives could end up searching for a face that doesn’t exist. Leaving the real killer free to stalk the neighborhood . . .

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Product Details

Gale Group
Publication date:
Thorndike Christian Mystery Series
Edition description:
Large Print Edition
Product dimensions:
5.52(w) x 8.84(h) x 0.93(d)

Read an Excerpt

Brink of Death Copyright © 2004 by Brandilyn Collins
Requests for information should be addressed to: Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Collins, Brandilyn. Brink of death / Brandilyn Collins. P. cm. - (The hidden faces series ; bk. 1)
ISBN 0-310-25103-6
1. Courtroom artists - Fiction. 2. Trials (Murder) - Fiction. 3. Women artists - Fiction. 4. Witnesses - Fiction. I. Title. PS3553.O4747815 B75 2004 813'.6 - dc22 2003024008
All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible: New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means - electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, or any other - except for brief quotations in printed reviews, without the prior permission of the publisher.
Interior design by Beth Shagene Printed in the United States of America
04 05 06 07 08 09 10 /. DC/ 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

P r o l o g u e
The noises, faint, fleeting, whispered into her consciousness like wraiths in the night.
Twelve-year-old Erin Willit opened her eyes to darkness lit only by the green night-light near her closet door, and the faint glow of a streetlamp through her bedroom window. She felt her forehead wrinkle, the fingers of one hand curl, as she tried to discern what had awakened her.
Something was not right.
An oak tree lifted gnarled branches between the streetlamp and her window, its leaves casting eeriespider-shadows across the far wall. When she was younger, Erin had asked that a small lamp on the desk by that wall be left on at night. Anything to dispel the jerking dance of those leaves. Lately she'd watched the dark tremble across the posters of pop stars on her wall with no fear at all.
But not tonight. On this night the shadows writhed and twitched.
Erin listened.
Vague sounds from her dad's office on the other side of her wall took form. A drawer slid open. Contents rustled.
Her heart tripped over itself, then scrambled for balance. There was nothing unusual about the sounds. Anyone working in the office could have made them. Someone paying bills, like she'd seen her dad do so many times, making no noise or movement until a pen was required or a piece of paper . . . until a drawer was opened to pull out a file. Erin knew how quiet her dad could be when he worked in his office. She was used to the creaks of his chair, the plunk of his briefcase on the desk.
The shadow-leaves on her wall skittered across the face of a male star, transforming his features into the thrust forehead and sunken cheeks of a half-human. Erin pulled her eyes away.
She raised her head from the pillow, listening more intensely. Her breath stalled midthroat, making a little click as her mouth sagged open. More noises. It couldn't be her dad. He'd flown his plane just that afternoon to visit his sister in San Diego, who was sick.
Maybe Mom was in the office. She had a second desk in there, which she used when she helped Dad. Erin glanced at her radio alarm clock. Nearly twelve-thirty. Mom never worked that late. Besides, the sounds were stealthy, secretive. Like someone sneaking around in a place they weren't supposed to be.
Erin's heart staccatoed once more, then ground into a steady, hard beat. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh, echoed the blood in her head. All other sound ceased, drowned out in the adrenaline rush. Erin gripped the hem of her pajama top, straining to hear. She held her head off the pillow until her neck ached. Whoosh, whoosh, whoosh. She could hear nothing more.
She bit her lip, then laid her head down.
Erin inhaled deeply, willing her heart to settle.
She'd imagined the noises. Just like she'd imagined the ghosted death-dance on her wall. She forced her gaze to the trembling silhouettes, eyes boring into them until she could discern the pattern of individual leaves. See? Just shadows from an old tree.
A muffled thud emanated from the office. A drawer closing. Then a soft thump against hardwood floor. A footfall.
Primal instinct reared its head. Erin wanted her mom - now. Her mother meant safety, security against all harm. Mom was sleeping upstairs in the master bedroom suite - so far away. But Erin had to go. She would turn on every light between here and there.
Trembling, Erin pushed back the covers and slid out of bed. Cool conditioned air slithered around her shoulders. She stood rock still. What if some predator in the next room had sensed her movement? She could almost visualize a massive beast's shining nose sniffing the air, smelling her fear.
Oh, she was thinking crazy stuff now.
She edged forward. The dark leaf images tremored on her wall, warning her: Don't go, don't go! The undefined shadow of her own form hulked across her desk and wall, obliterating the oak silhouettes. Erin crept across her bedroom carpet on soundless feet. Reaching the door, she placed her palm against the cool metal knob.
Another sound from the office. A light bump.
Erin's resolve crumbled. She couldn't do this! She should lock her door, jump back in bed, and jerk the covers over her head. Dive deep, deep down in those warm folds.
But then what? Hide panic-stricken and vulnerable until Whoever It Was came for her?
No way! She had to get to her mother. As she opened the door, she'd see the gleam of light from the office. She'd just peek into the room, see her mother there, working late. Maybe with a cup of tea resting on the coaster that never left her desk. "Sorry to wake you," Mom would be saying seconds from now. "I couldn't sleep and I had some paperwork to do."
Erin could almost hear the lilt of her mom's voice. Could almost see her face, bathed in the glow of the desk lamp. Please, Mom . . . please be there. Erin held her breath and twisted the knob. She pulled the door open a crack and peeked through.
No lamplight spilled from the office. The darkened hallway was lit only by a night-light like the one in Erin's bedroom.
Maybe the office door was closed. Sure, that was it. That was why the sounds had been so muffled. Erin eased her own door farther open, slipped her head out. A short hallway to the office angled off the main hall that ended at Erin's bedroom. She couldn't see the office entry without venturing farther from her room.
Don't be so stupid! Go on out there. If she could just step out, she'd see the office light illuminating the bottom of the door. Heralding her mother's presence on the other side.
A sudden glow spilled from the office and swept over the hallway, like the weakened edge of a flashlight's beam. A shuffle and a small thud followed, another drawer opened and closed. Erin froze. Mom wouldn't bump around in a darkened office with a flashlight.
Hideous images from Erin's childhood sprang into her head - from gruesome imaginings of a toddler's boogeyman to visions of the murderous Freddy Kruger. The latter images were the most terrifying. Freddy was not a surreal monster. He was real, a man with a killing machine for a heart. Erin suffered nightmares for a week after the back-to-back horror movies illicitly watched at her friend's house. The lamp on her desk was on that whole week, just like when she was little.

Meet the Author

Brandilyn Collins, known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense™, is the bestselling author of Violet Dawn, Coral Moon, Crimson Eve, Eyes of Elisha, and other novels. She and her family live in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Visit her website at www.brandilyncollins.com and her blog at www.forensicsandfaith.blogspot.com

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4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Evan98 More than 1 year ago
This was my second book that I have read by Brandilyn, the first one being her novel, Deceit. Was I disappointed? I am glad to say that I was not. Brandilyn's style of writing is the same as it was in Deceit: Quick-paced and thrilling. The plot was definitely a great one. The imagery was wonderful and I especially enjoyed the description of the Kingston's street. You will know what I am talking about when you read the novel. This book (and I am sure the rest of the series) gives us a look into the profession of forensic art. This is a topic that has always fascinated me and I am glad that Brandilyn put some good focus and gave us some good information on it. This book is written in the first person (with the exception of the prologue which is in the point of view of the victim's daughter. There are also multiple chapters in which it is the killer's point of view third person). Brandilyn succeeds in putting us in Annie's mind and letting us see all her emotions. All the characters are great and I hope to see all of them come back in the next book in the series which is called The Hidden Faces Series. Brink of Death definitely lives up to Brandilyn's logo, Seatbelt Suspense: Don't Forget to Breath.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Found the first book at Goodwill! Quickly read and bought the next three ebooks!!! Love this series
Girl4God More than 1 year ago
I really enjoy this author. I enjoy her writing style and the gripping stories of murder and mystery. They also include a search for a relationship with God throughout her stories.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read the third book in this series first and couldn't wait to get my hands on the first book. Brink of Death starts off with heart pounding intensity and carries you on a wave of suspense to a nail biting and emotional climax. So intense, it brought tears to my eyes! Heartily recommend the other books in this series! - Cynthia M. Hickey, author of Pursued By Evil and A Dream Fulfilled
Guest More than 1 year ago
From the opening scene in BRINK OF DEATH you know you¿re in good hands. You¿re also in for a ride - one that thrusts you into the world of Annie Kingston - single mom, former courtroom artist, and a woman about to live a nightmare. Told in Annie¿s engaging first person point of view (except for the prologue and the scattered scenes following the villain in third person), there are no wasted words. Every chapter leads you seamlessly into the next. Tight, suspenseful, and peppered with compelling details about forensic art, BRINK OF DEATH will keep you up waaaaaay past your bedtime. And the good news is it¿s book #1 in the Hidden Faces series (#2, STAIN OF GUILT available October 2004). Without compromising the thrills, Brandilyn keeps her story clean, which is something Christian readers will appreciate. But this is also a book you could give to friends or relatives with no concern about hitting them over the head with its religious message. We¿re gently led to think about God as we follow Annie¿s story. Final word? The characters in BRINK OF DEATH are REAL (no cardboard stereotypes here), and this series will win Brandilyn many more loyal fans, myself included.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A chilling murder mystery plays out against the backdrop of families broken apart. Annie Kingston is trying to protect her family, especially her teenage son, from the evils of the drug culture. Finding a haven in her deceased father¿s second home, she is drawn into a bizarre mystery. Her skills as an artist are needed to help apprehend the murderer of a neighbor. Brandilyn Collin¿s mastery of language paints layers of feelings for the readers as she takes them inside Annie¿s head as well as into the thoughts of the perpetrator. You won¿t want to put the book down until you¿ve finished it. I can hardly wait for the next book in the Hidden Faces Series.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Once again, Brandilyn Collins has written a book I couldn't put down. Brink of Death made my heart race from page one. The story of Annie Kingston is one that will stay with me for a while. She is one of those rare characters who is so well-written, I feel like I've just been through the story with her. And what a story it was! Brandilyn is a master of suspense. The twists and turns left me scared to turn the page! And yet, Annie is a mom with worries about her children, with real faith struggles and quesions. It made me root for her all the more. Annie is a heroine worthy of this excellent story. I can't wait for book 2!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I can¿t remember the last time I caught myself literally holding my breath as I read a book. Brink of Death gripped me from page one. The scenes are so real and so vivid, I knew without question I was the one walking in Annie Kingston¿s shoes, not Annie! Brandilyn Collins has crafted a story filled with angst and mystery on several different levels. She draws us into the world of forensic art and whets our appetite with the promise of more in her new Hidden Faces series. At the same time, she portrays a character struggling to trust a God she¿s not even sure exists. Brandilyn carefully weaves all these threads into a great read. Without question, one of the best mysteries I¿ve read in years!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Annie Kingston doesn¿t believe for one minute that she has helped with a murder investigation. In fact, she worries she may have actually caused a grave error that can only hinder the search for the killer. Despite her reservations, Annie bravely continues to seek after the truth. Is she confused and heading in the wrong direction? Or is she about to face her own BRINK OF DEATH? This first book in the series, by Brandilyn Collins, will have you on the brink of sleep deprivation with enough doubt to confuse even the most prolific reader. Make sure you leave all the lights on and try not to breathe too loud ¿ if you even remember to inhale, that is! Well done, Ms. Collins!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Brink of Death by Brandilyn Collins is a horrifyingly grand murder mystery. With its hauntingly beautiful narrative, and its vivacious characters, it¿ll do more than have you turning pages non-stop. It¿ll have you saying, ¿Is one nightlight enough?¿
Guest More than 1 year ago
Annie Kingston is in the race of her life. It is a race to help twelve-year-old Erin Willit create the face of the man who killed her mother before he can finish what he started. And a race for Annie to find the faith she wishes she had. In Brink Of Death, the first book in The Hidden Faces series, Brandilyn Collins has raised the bar in Christian Fiction. This one has more jolts than an IV bag full of Turkish coffee.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Nightmares come to life when a young girl wakes in the night, and sensing danger, goes in search of her mother, only to meet an intruder and witness her mother's murder. Arriving police alert the neighbors to trouble, including Annie Kingston and her daughter. Annie becomes part of the case when her closeness to the surviving daughter and her talent as a court room artist give her the ability to help put together a composite of the intruder. When she does, horror and shock come with the realization that her friend died in her place; that her home was the true target. Amidst all the suspense and mystery, Annie wrestles with issues of faith. Her friend loved God, but where was He when she needed Him. How could this happen? ............................ *** Gripping suspense makes the plot move rapidly. Fans of Patricia Cornwall or Iris Johansen may find this a Christian alternative with the forensic detals contributing to the suspense. Annie's questions about faith and theodacy are very relevant to today. However, shifting points of view might be hard to follow if you are not paying attention. ***
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RonnaL More than 1 year ago
This  series has potential to be interesting, with the beginning days of learning  forensic art, and beginnings belief in Christ.  Unfortunately, this particular book had a number of unbelievable parts to it, so that the excitement sometimes felt contrived and unnecessary.  Most specifically, the main character'l continuous need to do everything by herself when a call to 911 is obviously needed.  I also think the author was setting us up to have the main character come to a belief in Christ in a later book in this series.  But I think this particular book was lacking some common sense because of the set up, which wasn't completed in this book.  I'll be giving this series a second chance with the next book, to see if this potential is realized, because there were moments of brilliance within this story. 
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I was unsure if I'd like this "Christian" mystery as I am not religious, and I enjoy very gory, hardcore serial killer-type novels. I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't feel that the parts focusing on God were overwhelming or too lengthy to lose my interest. The book was suspenseful and fast-paced enough that I didn't miss the gory details I usually like. I am looking forward to reading the other books in the series.