This is an amazingly well written book for a debut effort. Being mentored by Frank Peretti has left its mark.
Parks is a forensic artist and she shows her expertise, deftly weaving fact and fiction in this novel. The main character is Gwen Marcey, recent divorcée, mother of an acting out teen daughter, and world-renowned forensic artist. She is working at the Mountain Meadows Interpretive Center, overlooking the 1857 massacre site. She was reconstructing faces from the skulls of the only known survivors.
When a young woman faints at the sight of one of the heads Gwen has crafted, the mystery of what really happened to Joseph Smith begins. Before it is all over, people will be murdered, Gwen will be held captive by a fundamentalist offshoot of the LDS, and the lives of hundreds of people will be in danger.
This is a well crafted novel. Gwen is a gutsy woman. Her life has just been turned upside down and yet she perseveres. Life is tough for her but she keeps going. Just when she thinks she has FBI protection, she is forced to find her own way out of trouble. "They'd soon find out they shouldn't mess with a divorced, menopausal, bald woman." The suspense is nearly continuous and is well plotted.
Parks shares how she came to write this novel in an Author Note. She herself is a breast-cancer survivor, forensic artist, and Great Pyrenees owner, as is Gwen. Seeing an article on the Internet about a Le Fort fracture found on Joseph Smith's skull set her creative juices flowing. Further research piqued her interest and a vague idea took shape. The result is a compelling novel.
I really liked this novel. I hope it is merely the first in a long line of great novels from this author.
Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning fine artist and internationally known forensic artist. She teaches forensic art courses to law enforcement professionals and is the author and illustrator of numerous books on drawing. She began to write fiction while battling breast cancer. She is now in remission. You can find out more at www.carriestuartparks.com.
Thomas Nelson, 384 pages.
I received a complimentary egalley of this novel from the publisher for the purpose of an independent and honest review.