Four stars (of five)
First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Carrie Stuart Parks, and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of this book, which allows me to provide you with this review.
Without having read Parks’ previous novel, I felt unsure how to approach this second book in the series. Gwen Marcey is a forensic artist, working piecemeal for the local sheriff , but is unable to make ends meet. While out with her dog, they discover a skull and eventually a body that bears an uncanny resemblance to Gwen’s own daughter. Pulled deeper into the mix, move victims emerge and Gwen finds herself visiting crime scenes she knows well from an artistic point of view. Honing her investigative skills, Gwen uncovers parallels between the victims and clues found at the scene, all of which lead back to a neo-Nazi group in the guise of a Christian church, the Phineas Priesthood. Gwen’s past forensic work may also play a role in her being a target, a case with deep religious and supremacist roots. With a killer out on the loose, no one is safe, especially Gwen and her daughter. Set in the Montana backcountry, Parks uses what she knows best and formulates a wonderful forensic mystery that develops in unique ways, luring the reader deeper with each passing moment.
Parks has a wonderful way of laying out a mystery in a clear and concise manner, which attracts the reader from the early stages. Without bogging the reader down with excessive forensic information, the story moves quickly. A unique approach, forensic art, keeps the main character distanced from many other attempts authors have made to create their respective niche in the genre. Parks builds on her characters slowly, but constantly. Use of a more rural setting allows the reader more of a personal connection to each person introduced, rather than having to flip back an reacquaint one’s self with the plethora of legal authorities. Also, use of short, sharp chapters pushes the reader forward, promising that they will ‘read only one more’ before completing a dozen. Parks has found her calling and with more novels using this style will surely allow her following to grow exponentially.
Kudos, Madam Parks for this wonderfully entertaining piece. I can only hope you’ll keep writing and finding new ways to use the Gwen Marcey character to your benefit.
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