Collins, Natalie R.
Collins, Natalie R.
(Natalie M. Roberts)
Born in Logan, UT; married; children: two daughters. Education: Attended University of Utah.
Author and journalist. Salt Lake Tribune, UT, reporter for eleven years; Sundance Film Festival, editor, 2001, 2002. Reading Room.com, managing partner; Blue Iris Journal, editor-in-chief.
CAPA Award nomination, for SisterWife, 2003.
SisterWife, Zumaya Publishers, 2003.
Wives and Sisters, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2004.
Behind Closed Doors, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.
(As Natalie M. Roberts) The Twisted Sister, Five Star (Chandler, AZ), 2007.
The Wife's Secret, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 2007.
"JENNY T. PARTRIDGE" SERIES; AS NATALIE M. ROBERTS
Tutu Deadly, Thorndike (Waterville, ME), 2007.
Tapped Out, Thorndike (Waterville, ME), 2008.
Pointe and Shoot, Berkley (New York, NY), 2008.
Also author of Buy This Book and I'll Wash Your Car: How to—and Not to—Get a Literary Agent.
Raised in the Mormon faith, writer and journalist Natalie R. Collins uses that religion as the backdrop for the suspense novels SisterWife and Wives and Sisters. As Collins notes on her home page, she herself has had a difficult time making a break with the religion of her youth, as do the protagonists of her novels. "Despite the world's misconceptions of Mormons," Collins noted, "the truth is, the [members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day] Saints are quite an interesting group. One that makes writing suspense fiction very easy." Collins's first novel tells of a young woman who has been prophesied to bring about a modern-day Armageddon. This protagonist, Kelsey Waite, flees her repressive life in Utah, escaping from both a polygamous life and an abusive father. However, when her daughter is later kidnapped, she is compelled to return to Utah and deal with the crazed and charismatic cult leader. Creator of a bizarre Mormon sect, he foretells that Kelsey will be his second wife, give birth to triplets, and thus set off the rest of his apocalyptic prophesy. Reviewing this title for the MyShelf.com Web site, Nancy Mehl called it "an engrossing novel that lures you into the twisted world of a cult."
Wives and Sisters also deals with a young woman attempting to break away from the oppressive life of her parents' Mormon faith. There are also dark secrets being hidden behind the veneer of the religion. Protagonist Allison Jensen's life was changed during one instant when, as a six-year-old, her best friend disappeared while playing with her. Attacked by a bearded man with a shotgun, Allison ran away but her friend Cindy could not escape. Cindy was never seen again, but the bearded man was, the following year at a church picnic. However, the man was never prosecuted. As a young adult, Allison attempts to find out what really happened to her childhood friend. Escaping her harsh father to go to college, she is raped one night by a man in a false beard who she thinks might be her brother-in-law. As Allison and the police investigate, she becomes the target of this sexual predator, whom the religious elders are shielding for some reason. A critic for Kirkus Reviews called the novel "a white-knuckles ride all the way." Reviewers Bookwatch contributor Jody Pryor had similar praise for Wives and Sisters, noting that Collins "has captured the essence of a page-turner by giving us a three-dimensional characters, plenty of action and a healthy dose of controversy." For Jana Kraus, reviewing the title on the MostlyFiction.com Web site, the novel is "a most compelling read." The Kirkus Reviews writer concluded that Collins "is a talent to watch."
Writing under the pseudonym Natalie M. Roberts, Collins began to write the "Jenny T. Partridge" series in 2007, with the first installment, Tutu Deadly. Tapped Out and Pointe and Shoot followed soon after. The series of mysteries revolves around Jenny Partridge, a dance teacher living and working in Ogden, Utah, where she owns her own studio and teaches ballet to children. Normally, Jenny's biggest hassle is dealing with the parents of her students, particularly when they start to pressure her over what role their child will dance in the annual holiday presentation of The Nutcracker. However, when one of the mothers turns up dead after she and Jenny had a rather public argument, Jenny finds herself being hauled in for questioning by Tate Wilson, a local police detective. When it turns out the woman was poisoned by a holiday cookie, Jenny points the finger at the mother of another of her dance students, indicating that she was the one who was supposed to deliver the dough to the dead woman. However, the woman she accuses appears to have vanished, along with her child, and when Jenny finally gets back to her studio, it starts to look like she might be the killer's next target. Harriet Klausner, writing for the Midwest Book Review Web site, remarked of the book that "amateur sleuth fans will want to kick off their heels and dance."
Again writing as Roberts, Collins steps back from her "Jenny T. Partridge" series with The Twisted Sister. Set in Santa Barbara, California, the book revolves around a serial killer who is taking out men guilty of abusing people. Each murder victim has a history as some sort of predator, and each of them has their more vulnerable organs attacked. Kelsey Waite, a local painter, has started a group called Women Against Violence (WAV), along with her friend Alisha Telford, a nurse. The crimes are reported to WAV, but the circumstances of the attacks, and particularly the history of each of the men who have been targeted, mean that the majority of the women in the group are reluctant to lend a hand or to even get involved. However, as the murders continue, the killer seems less intent on finding men who fit the same description the earlier victims, and the deaths become more random. When Alisha's boyfriend, Detective Joe Malone, suddenly dies of a heart attack, she and Kelsey decide to take action. A reviewer for Publishers Weekly remarked of the novel that "although some turns are predictable, Roberts pulls off a thought-provoking puzzler." Klausner, again writing for the Midwest Book Review Web site, commented that "the fast-paced story line grips the reader from the opening moment."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Kirkus Reviews, August 15, 2004, review of Wives and Sisters, p. 759.
Publishers Weekly, August 27, 2007, review of The Twisted Sister, p. 62.
Reviewers Bookwatch, December, 2004, Jody Pryor, review of Wives and Sisters.
Collected Miscellany, http://www.collectedmiscellany.com/ (February 16, 2005), David Thayer, review of Wives and Sisters.
Midwest Book Review,http://www.midwestbookreview.com/ (June 30, 2008), Harriet Klausner, reviews of Tutu Deadly and The Twisted Sister.
MostlyFiction.com,http://www.mostlyfiction.com/ (January 16, 2005), Jana Kraus, review of Wives and Sisters.
MyShelf.com,http://www.myshelf.com/ (October 4, 2005), Nancy Mehl, review of SisterWife.
Natalie R. Collins Home Page,http://www.nataliercollins.com (October 4, 2005).
Writers Break,http://www.writersbreak.com/ (October 4, 2005), Diane Domingo, "An Interview with Writer Natalie Collins."