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2005 ACFW Book of the Year Award--Suspense



Third in the Hidden Faces Series

All words fell away. I pushed myself off the path, noticing for the first time the signs of earlier passage—the matted earth, broken twigs. And I knew. My mouth turned cottony.

I licked my lips, took three halting steps. My maddening, visual brain churned out pictures of colorless faces on a cold slab—Debbie Lille, victim number one; Wanda Deminger, number three...

He’d been here. Dragged this one right where I now stumbled. I’d entered a crime scene, and I could not bear to see what lay at the end...


This is a story about evil.

This is a story about God’s power.

A string of murders terrorizes citizens in the Redding, California area. The serial killer is cunning, stealthy. Masked by day, unmasked by night. Forensic artist Annie Kingston discovers the sixth body practically in her own back yard. Is the location a taunt aimed at her?

One by one, Annie must draw the unknown victims for identification. Dread mounts. Who will be taken next? Under a crushing oppression, Annie and other Christians are driven to pray for God’s intervention as they’ve never prayed before.

With page-turning intensity, Dead of Night dares to pry open the mind of evil. Twisted actions can wreak havoc on earth, but the source of wickedness lies beyond this world. Annie learns where the real battle takes place—and that a Christian’s authority through prayer is the ultimate, unyielding weapon.



"Collins polished plotting sparkles ... unique word twists
on the psychotic serial killer mentality.
Lock your doors, pull your shades--and read this book at noon."

--RT BOOKclub

Prologue

Copyright 2005 by Brandilyn Collins
Used by permission of Zondervan



Not so pretty in death, are you.

Head twisted, back arched. Contorted mouth, eyes wide in shock, limbs all locked tight.

Now your outside looks like your inside-a black soul, an immoral soul, a horrified and horrifying soul, bound for the black pits, the depths of darkness, for eternity, ever and ever on.

Skin still warm, clothes all askew, bleached blonde hair tangled around your devious head, fragile wisps caught on your evil tongue. Dead, dead, dead and gone, and who will miss you now?

Sit back and look at you, deserving the work of my hands. Look you up and down, your shoes kicked off in the convulsions, your wrists bent and fingers curled like the limbs of an arthritic tree, one knee drawn up toward your chest.

How hard they fall, the proud and vain and shallow.

But ...

Sweep aside the coarse white-yellow hair. There it is. Pretty earring. Pretty, pretty bauble, so shiny, with a big blue stone and little white stones around it, playing with the spectrum like shimmery fairies. Put my finger behind your earlobe, move it this way and that, watch the dancing colors catch the light. My earring now, only mine to keep and smile at and watch it shine.

How to take it? It is connected to your ear, right through it. Silly, arrogant woman, piercing holes in your body in the name of beauty. Like her. She was self-absorbed and flirtatious, making eyes at the men, swaying hips and pouting lips, and meanwhile the child saw and was unseen, and no one else knew, and no one else cared, and who would tend the child?

Pull. Tug. Rip at the earring, and still it will not come. It latches to your ear like a leech. You defy me even in death, you shout to me in your silence that you will not be de-jeweled, not be robbed of the sparkly outward display of your wretched and gaudy heart.

Hurry away, my footsteps scuffing the kitchen floor to grab what I need. I grip the handle, one finger testing the blade. I will take the prize from you, and your yawning mouth will scream in silence, but no one else knows, and no one else cares, and who will tend to you?

There.

The earring is mine.

Hold it close to my eyes. Feel the hardness of the stone with my finger, tip it, turn it, watch the light play, the fading light of the setting sun. Darkness creeps toward the earth like it has crept over you, and to the ground you will now go, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, to be remembered no more, to wither and rot.

In the dead of night you will be taken. As the dead of night, so shall you ever be.