Friday, August 5, 2016

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Death has always been part of Gwen Marcey’s job. But when faced with her own mortality, everything takes on a different hue.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs and homes when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky. The Eastern Kentucky town, located deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, has been plagued by a serial rapist and a series of unexplained deaths. Before Gwen can develop a composite drawing, the latest witness vanishes, just like all the previous victims.

Turning her attention to sketching the face of an unidentified body, she discovers a link between his death and a Pentecostal serpent-handling church. Serpent-handling is illegal in Kentucky, and the churches have gone underground to avoid the authorities and continue to worship as they believe. Gwen is offered a handsome reward to infiltrate the renegade members, a reward she desperately needs as it seems her breast cancer has returned.

Joined by her digitally-obsessed, Generation Z daughter, Gwen goes undercover to a nineteenth century revival, planning to draw the faces of the snake handlers so they can be identified and arrested. Instead she uncovers a murderous plot and a festering evil.

I hope you enjoy this review of a new to me author.  This book is the 3rd book in her Gwen Marcey series of books.  While each of the books could be read on their own, I wouldn’t recommend it.  The underlying storyline is much clearer and flows better if you read each of the books in their specific order.

Gwen Marcey is back and this time she’s been asked to assist the Pikeville PD sketch the remains of a body.  There’s also a rapist on the loose, but all of the victims vanish before anyone is able to get all of the details from them.  When a connection is found between the body she’s sketching and a local church of snake handlers, Gwen takes the local government big-shot’s promise of a huge monetary reward to heart and heads undercover.  Soon her daughter is with her and the danger becomes real.  Is this church practicing the illegal art of snake-handling at its services? Is there a connection between this church and the serial rapist? Can Gwen complete her job and keep her daughter safe at the same time?  Put that snake down before it suffocates you and head down to your local bookstore and BUY THIS BOOK!!

Confession time.  I did not like the first book in the series.  Not sure why, just really couldn’t get into the storyline.  The character was a little flighty to me and seemed to be where she didn’t need to be.  Ok, with that out of the way, I will say that I read the 2nd and 3rd books in this series with a more voracious appetite.  It probably only took me two days to finish both of these books and it was nice being able to read them back to back and continue the story.  I’m still not sure that I care much for the main character, but I will say that I’ve read worse.  The main character’s friend is more grounded and inserts the religious themes into the storyline and always brings a sense of humor when she arrives.

Is this a "guy's book"?  This novel is full of police procedures, snake-handlers and a great sense of adventure and suspense.  Start with the first book in this series, but don’t let it keep you from getting to these better ones at the end.

When Death Draws Near Carrie Stuart Parks
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About the Author:

Carrie Stuart Parks is an award-winning fine artist and internationally known forensic artist. Along with her husband, Rick, she travels across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement as well as civilian participants. She has won numerous awards for career excellence. Carrie is a popular platform speaker, presenting a variety of topics from crime to creativity. 

Animals have always been a large part of her life. Her parents, Ned and Evelyn Stuart, started Skeel Kennel Great Pyrenees in 1960. Carrie inherited the kennel and continues with her beloved dogs as both an AKC judge and former president of the Great Pyrenees Club of America. She lives on the same ranch she grew up on in Northern Idaho.

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