Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Carrie Stuart Parks, and Thomas Nelson for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Moving away from her Gwen Marcey series, Carrie Stuart Parks intrigues readers with this standalone novel that is sure to send chills up the spine. Murphy Andersen is hiding in plain sight in rural Alaska, worried that the serial killer likely responsible for her sister’s disappearance might soon find her. Creating a backstory so as not to alert anyone, Andersen sells herself as a forensic artist and has been brought in by the Kodiak Police Department to sketch some memories of a dying man. These sketches are to represent five bodies the man found a decade ago on a remote island. When Andersen and a crime technician make their way to the apparent crime scene, weather works against them and they narrowly escape with their lives. Soon thereafter, people with whom Andersen has recently had contact end up murdered and her home is torched. Might this all be coincidental or is there someone trying to send a message? As Andersen remains convinced that she will get to the bottom of her sister’s disappearance, she is also working this cold case, where she discovers potential ties to a World War II extremely covert mission. While she is worried that her identity and past may soon be revealed, Andersen cannot be deterred from doing all she can to solve these two Alaskan mysteries. A well-paced thriller that keeps the reader’s attention. Recommended for those who enjoy a police procedural with a twist!

I have long enjoyed Parks’ forensic artist series, as it tackles crime fighting from a unique perspective and helps educate the reader on some of the major aspects of the author’s other career. This move away from the series allows Parks to expand the foundation of her writing, adding a younger and less jaded protagonist. Murphy Andersen proves to be an interesting character, though the intensity of her backstory is diluted as she tries to help with the cases at hand. Parks has done well to introduce a number of interesting supporting characters, many of whom complement Andersen well, though not as well as some of those Parks has created in her aforementioned series. The plot has some interesting aspects—a serial killer, five mystery bodies, a military mission— but I found the entire experience not to be as intense as I might have liked. I was able to read the book with ease, though found myself lacking a connection to much on the page. It might also be some of the psychological aspects and internal conversations that Andersen seems to have, but I felt it lacked the punch Parks usually brings to her novels. The premise is sound and the historic happenings, be they real or fabricated, offered the reader something interest to ponder as they make their way through this piece.

Kudos, Madam Parks, for a decent addition to your writing repertoire. While not my favourite piece, I can still see some of your high-calibre writing that hooked me a while back.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: