Marji Laine reviews.
Carrie Stuart Parks's debut novel. This story would make an EXCELLENT movie!
Gwen Marcey has had it all:, success, failure, disease, dismal humiliation, and now murder and destruction following her. Her best friend, Beth, always says, "Everything happens for a reason," but how can there be any benefit in Gwen's sanity being questioned, her co-worker murdered, her work decimated? Not to mention the other dysfunctional elements of her life like her family and need for secure, paid employment.
Gwen's job as a forensic artist places her at the site of an 140-year-old tragic massacre hugging the edges of Mormon history. Something she's doing—something she's recreating—is stirring up a hatred strong enough to kill. The ritualistic murders of a young college student and an aging security guard baffle her. Then terror sets in when she realizes she's been targeted. Is she going to be the next victim, or is something more sinister in the works?
I loved this book. It just soared to the top of my all-time-best list! I'd like to say my favorite element is the main character. Usually, that's true, and Gwen was no exception. She's rather a hybrid of a FREE-SPIRIT, do-your-own thing type of gal and a focused, answer-loving LIBRARIAN. A pretty, quirky lady, near or at middle age with a fetish for caffeine, a huge dog, and a quick wit. She was hysterical even in the midst of the most intense moments. At one point she thinks, "They shouldn't mess with a divorced, menopausal, bald woman in a bad mood." Ha. Had me in full-belly laugh more than once! She's smart, skilled, and has a masterful memory. A Holmes with a heart, so to speak.
And I also enjoyed the flavor of the dual perspectives. The main character sections were in first person, but other points of view were in third person. I've heard of books utilizing this new technique, but this is my first experience with it. I really liked it. The character shifts never threw me and I was able to identify Gwen's sections every time. The e-book version did have a few spacing issues between scenes. Not a big deal, and I thoroughly enjoyed the details evidenced by the scenes which some of the minor characters shared.
But my favorite element was the plot in this novel. Non-stop suspense, increasing tension, mammoth stakes, disastrous repercussions. Just as I felt the relief of a completed issue, I'd near the end of the scene and get a new revelation. A shocker that would make me lower the book for a second and give a "Wow." This happened over and over throughout the story. In addition, for the first time in a long time, I was completely surprised by the ultimate revelation. Here, I thought I had the resolution well in hand. I had expectations of who and what and a twist. Only to find I was completely wrong. I mean totally!
But I delighted in the error! The story was that much sweeter since I hadn't anticipated the ending! If you're a fan of suspense, don't miss this book!
And did I mention that Frank Peretti, one of the pioneers of Christian suspense, worked with Carrie Stuart Parks as she developed A Cry from the Dust? What's more, I had a great chat with her when she first sold this book to Thomas Nelson. Here's the link for that interview.
I'm looking forward to the next Gwen Marcey suspense!
Senior Reviewer: Marji Laine
Marji Laine is a collaborator in three novellas with short stories published in both books and magazines. A homeschooling mom or four, two of which are graduates, she is married to a wonderful business analyst who keeps her grounded in reality. Her blog, Faith Driven Fiction, posts reader and writer focused articles as well as analysis of popular movies with a Biblical World view. Find her at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, or Google+.