Formula of Deception: A Novel

Formula of Deception: A Novel

by Carrie Stuart Parks


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“I love Carrie Stuart Parks’s skill in writing characters with hysterical humor, unwitting courage and page-turning mystery. I hope my readers won’t abandon me completely when they learn about her!” —Terri Blackstock, USA TODAY bestselling author of If I Run, If I’m Found, and If I Live

An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718083854
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 07/03/2018
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 268,917
Product dimensions: 8.30(w) x 5.60(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Carrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol Award–winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law-enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

Read an Excerpt


Murphy Andersen's mission to Kodiak Island was about to collide with her lies. She hadn't planned on getting in so deep.

But here she was in a dying Russian's bedroom, with a cop standing beside her.

The stench of Vasily Scherbakov's deteriorating flesh engulfed her. She blinked and breathed through her mouth.

"Cancer's a nasty way to die," Detective Elin Olsson whispered.

Boy howdy, you can say that again. "I'm used to such things.

You know, messy crime scenes, dead bodies, stuff like that." Liar.

The Russian Orthodox priest standing beside the bed inspected Murphy from head to foot.

She'd already ducked her head and turned it sideways. They always stared at the scar first, the angry red one that split her eyebrow and continued down to her cheek. Her oversized glasses hid some of it, but not enough. She studied her scuffed shoe tips, waiting for his scrutiny to continue. Despite her cheerful scarf, he no doubt noted the threadbare navy blazer, stained shell blouse, and too-big khaki slacks.

A quick peek told her the audit was over. Here came part two.

The priest spoke with a slight Russian accent. "But she is a child. A young girl."

Bingo. It never failed. It came from her short stature, thin

The priest turned to Vasily. "Eta genshina budet risovat' litso mugzhiny kotorogo vy videli. Ya ne dal ey nikakoy informacii."

He took the words right out of her mouth. She stared at the floor until she could control her grin. Too little sleep, not enough coffee, and her own nerves only led to the giggles. Once the mirth passed, she pulled up a chair to the bed, sat, and opened her art bag. She removed the packet of mug photos — provided by Detective Olsson — a pad of bristol paper, and a pencil.

"What did you tell him?" Murphy asked the priest.

"You are the art lady."

Detective Olsson smiled. "The priest has offered to translate for the interview."

That didn't sound good. Rather like watching a foreign-language film with subtitles. The actors always said more than what appeared on the screen. "Vasily doesn't speak any English?"

"His English is limited," Father Ivanov said. "He understands it better than he speaks it."

"I just hope you can understand my Virginia accent, y'all."

Murphy smiled slightly at Vasily.

"I thought you said West Virginia?" Detective Olsson asked.

"That's where I worked." Murphy nodded quickly.

Detective Olsson looked at the priest. "Where is the woman who called this in? She seemed distraught."

"His caretaker, Irina. Yes, she was very upset. She's one of my parishioners. I wish she would have talked to me before calling you. She'll be in later today to look after Vasily. Do you want to interview her?"

"I do. I just want to be sure I cover all the bases."

He nodded.

Murphy sat on a hard and uncomfortable chair as spartan as Vasily's bedroom. A wooden icon of the Virgin Mary was the sole item on the wall. The furniture consisted of two straight-backed chairs, a nightstand covered with prescription bottles, and a metal cot. A faded piece of cadmium-red calico fabric blocked the closet, and a matching curtain sagged at the window.

Vasily lay on the bed, quilt pulled almost to his chin. His chalk-white skin stretched across his skull, and wisps of fine, light brown hair haloed his head. His skeletal hands clutched the blanket while his sunken eyes watched her.

"Good morning, Vasily," Murphy said. "May I call you by your first name?" She was grateful when he nodded, considering she couldn't pronounce his last name.

"Well, Vasily, my name is Murphy Andersen. I've been asked to draw a portrait from your memory. I have no idea what you saw, other than Detective Olsson said it's a cold case."

"Technically, it's a new case from the past. The Alaska State Troopers have asked us to do the preliminary interviews." Detective Olsson moved to the foot of the bed. "We're taking your report seriously and have several technicians on their way. Maybe you could tell Murphy what you saw."

Vasily straightened slightly, adjusted his blanket, and began speaking in Russian, never taking his eyes from Murphy's face. He spoke for some time before pausing to cough. The priest held a glass of water to Vasily's lips.

The room was overheated. Murphy clamped her jaw shut to stop the yawn that threatened to emerge and peeked at her watch. The sun rose early and stayed up late in Alaska's June, and she'd been awake since 4:00 a.m., too nervous to sleep with the upcoming interview. Her eyelids felt like gravel pits.

Vasily had taken a sip of water from the priest, closed his eyes, then waved for Ivanov to translate.

She prepared to take notes.

The priest took the chair next to her. "Vasily hunted on various islands, first with his father and uncles, later alone. About ten years ago he was hunting on Ruuwaq Island when he stumbled across five men."

"Five men?" she asked. "No women?"

"No," Vasily answered, then waved Ivanov to continue.

The priest leaned forward. "He remembers one man's face as if it were yesterday."

"I see." She glanced at the blank paper. "And what were the men doing that was so memorable?"

"Doing?" The priest raised his eyebrows. "They weren't doing anything. They were dead."

"Dead. Of course, but are we talking about an accident? Murder?"

Father Ivanov spoke briefly to Vasily in Russian, listened to his reply, then said, "He says it looked like they killed each other with their bare hands."


Heat rushed to Murphy's face and a buzzing started in her brain. She stared at the priest for a moment. "Okay then." She cleared her throat. Remember, Sherlock Holmes never fainted. "You saw five men. Am I drawing five composites?"

"No," Vasily said, then spoke to the priest for a moment.

The priest nodded, then looked at Murphy. "He'll describe the man he saw first, the one nearest to him. He glanced at all five bodies but only remembers that one face clearly. He fled the island after that."

"Okay, one drawing it is."

"If you could," Detective Olsson said, "maybe you could do a second drawing as well — a rough sketch of how all the men were arranged. The crime scene."

Nodding, she jotted a note to remind herself. The dying man stared at her expectantly, but somehow it seemed wrong to just jump into the description. "Mr. ... ah ... Vasily, let's start with your arrival on Ruuwaq Island that day. What kind of day was it?"

"Gray. Dark," Vasily answered.

"And how did you feel?" she asked.

He raised his eyebrows but answered, "Like hunting."

"Tell me about the island."

Vasily spoke for a time to Father Ivanov. The priest listened intently, bending forward in his chair, then turned to her. "He said the island is tiny, treeless, and mostly bordered by cliffs. The south side is low but is filled with treacherous rocks and currents. Because of that, few hunters bother with it. Vasily thought he could climb the cliff on the northeast side. With the icy conditions, it took him part of a day to reach the top. The land sloped to the ocean, with a rockslide on his right near the water. He saw nothing to hunt and was about to leave, but then he spotted piles of clothing near the rocks. The wind shifted and he smelled ... death."

"Picture in your mind walking to the bodies. Mentally look around you. What's going on?"

"Wind cold in my face, light rain," Vasily answered.

"What did you hear?"

He spoke to the priest. "He could hear the ocean waves crashing and seagulls," Father Ivanov said.

"Now how were you feeling?"

Again Vasily spoke to the priest. Ivanov listened, then patted the man's hand before turning to her. "He said the wind was icy, but the cold filled his heart. He didn't want to look. He wanted to run away from that terrible place."

She understood. She would have hightailed it out of there the second she spotted the clothing. "I admire your bravery," she said to Vasily. "Tell me about the man you saw, the one you remember so clearly."

Vasily launched into more Russian. When he finished, Father Ivanov said, "He believes all five were Asian. The one he remembers was a small, thin man, possibly in his twenties. Black hair, medium skin color, big teeth."

"Big teeth?"

"I suspect he means the lips were drawn backward so he could see all his teeth." Ivanov spoke to Vasily for a moment, then nodded.

"How long do you think they had been dead?"

Vasily spoke. "Not long time."

She tugged the packet of mug photos out of her art bag and handed them to Vasily. "Please go through these photos and find people who look like the man you saw. Point to the ones who look similar and I'll write it down."

The dying man took the mug shots and dumped them on the bed. Almost immediately he selected one and pointed at an oval face. She took the photo from him and made note of it. In different images he indicated a high forehead, coarse black hair combed backward, and almond-shaped eyes with epicanthic eye folds. The nose was average in length, though somewhat broad at the end. Rather thin lips rounded out his selection. Murphy made a note that the lips were pulled away from the teeth and would be stretched out and flattened. She'd draw them fuller in the sketch. Vasily's face had grown even paler during the facial selection. He returned the unselected photos to the bag and gave it to her. She put it away, then opened her pad of paper to a clean sheet. "Could you sketch some stick figures to show how the bodies were lying?"

Vasily nodded. She handed him the sketchpad and pencil. With a few strokes, he drew five stick figures on the paper, then put an X on the body farthest from the others. "This one I saw best."

"Where were they in relation to the rockslide?"

Vasily drew a line across one side, then handed her the pad.

After studying the sketches, she asked, "Did you ever return to Ruuwaq Island?"

"No." His voice was a whisper.

"Why did you wait so long to tell anyone what you saw?"

The priest cleared his throat and glanced at Detective Olsson. "Vasily hasn't had the best relationship with law enforcement."

Pulling out a piece of drafting velum, Murphy placed it over Vasily's rough sketch and drew prone bodies, then held it up. "What should I change to make this look more like what you saw?"

He closed his eyes as if unwilling to revisit the scene, then pointed to two figures. He made his fingers into claws, then wrapped his hands around his throat to show strangulation.

"They were strangling each other?"

He nodded.

She changed the drawing.

Pointing to a third man, Vasily made his hand into a fist and struck the bed.

"This man was beaten? With a fist?" she asked.

Vasily nodded. "And rock."

Once again she made the changes, then turned the rockslide line into a drawing of rocks. "Now what should I change?" She held up the image.

"One rock by two men look like table."

She drew a rectangular rock parallel to the two men, then showed him the drawing. "Now what?"

"Nothing." Vasily shrank into his pillow.

She closed the sketchpad, removed her glasses, and took Vasily's hands in hers. "Vasily, thank you for sharing this memory. I'll take this home with me and bring the drawings back when I'm finished for you to correct. Was there anything else I should have asked you or you wanted to say?"

Vasily blinked at her several times, then started to talk. The Russian words tumbled over each other as he barely paused for breath.

Father Ivanov leaned backward in his chair, his gaze going from Vasily to Murphy.

Vasily didn't notice. He continued to speak, now with spittle forming at the corners of his mouth.

Murphy watched the man's face, nodding as if she understood what he was saying.

The flow of words ended and Vasily closed his eyes. "Thank you," he whispered. His skin had turned ashen, with delicate purple veins crossing his eyelids. His grip on her hands relaxed.

Her heart pounded in her ears. Is he dead? Did I just kill him?

A hand clutched her arm.

She jumped.

Detective Olsson tugged at her. "Come."

She put on her glasses, picked up the art bag, and allowed the other woman to lead her into the living room.

"What was that all about?" the detective asked.

"I don't know. Is he ..?"

"Dead? No, he's still breathing."

Murphy let out a breath she didn't know she'd been holding. "Maybe he was remembering more details —"

"No." Father Ivanov gently closed the bedroom door behind him and entered the living room. "Nothing new about the deaths. It was as if ..." He stared upward, his eyes unfocused.

"As if what?" Detective Olsson asked.

"As if he needed to unburden himself of every evil deed he'd ever done."

Murphy shivered slightly. She was glad she didn't understand Russian.

"So, a final confession." The detective folded her arms.

"In the Russian Orthodox faith, you don't confess to the priest. You confess to God in the presence of the priest."

"Like I said —"

"No. This was ... different." He shook his head and his gaze sharpened on Murphy. "He seemed to want to share with you. He certainly opened up."

"I didn't do anything." Murphy shifted her weight from one leg to the other. "I think he just needed to have someone near, holding his hand."

Detective Olsson raised her eyebrows at the priest. "She has a point. I don't suppose you've been holding hands with the man ..."

Father Ivanov stiffened. "It's not my place —"

She held up her hands. "Just pulling your chain, Father. We'll return with the completed drawings as soon as Murphy is finished.

From what I understand, seeing the completed sketch usually triggers additional memories. Vasily may remember a whole lot more information."

The priest folded his arms. "That's good. I'll pray that your drawings turn out well."

She reached for the door. "Come on, Murphy, let's get those sketches done."

Murphy paused before leaving. "Thank you, Father Ivanov. I appreciate your translating." She could feel his gaze, not much less disapproving than when she'd arrived, on her back as she closed the front door.

Detective Olsson slipped into the police SUV and waited for her. Murphy climbed in, rubbing her hands together to warm them.

"After the caretaker reported this story to me three days ago," the detective said, "I followed up with Father Ivanov, then looked for missing-persons reports in that time frame. No luck. Not one, let alone five. Then I had to figure out where Vasily hunted. With the large number of islands in the Kodiak Archipelago, plus almost seventy in the Aleutian Island chain stretching across almost seventeen hundred miles, that was a lot of territory to cover."

"But he gave you the name."

Detective Olsson started the engine and pulled away from Vasily's tiny home.

"Ruuwaq Island was what he called it, but that's not the official name. I called up all the pilots I knew and described the island. Butch Patterson, a retired trooper with Alaska Wildlife, finally came up with a possibility. I had him fly over the island yesterday to see if he could spot anything. He said the rockslide was there, but nothing else, at least that he could see from the air. He suggested I have Jake Swayne, his replacement, take Bertie, the crime-scene tech, out there tomorrow morning."


"Roberta Fisher, from Anchorage. State crime lab." She pulled out onto the street. "I told Bertie you were doing our sketches. She, ah, she's asked if you'd go with her."


"She said she needed help. I offered a couple of deputies, but none of them can even write their name legibly, let alone diagram a scene. I assume you've done crime-scene diagramming before."

"Of course." Murphy felt herself skidding down that slippery slope of lies.

Detective Olsson turned toward Murphy's apartment. The sun was well up in the cloudless sky in spite of the early hour.

"I suppose a boat ride —"

"Not boat. Floatplane."


"You're not afraid of flying in a small plane, are you?"

"I don't think so. I see them every day taking off and landing, but I've never flown in one." She thought for a moment. "Back to Ruuwaq, how did the men get on the island in the first place? Vasily didn't mention seeing a boat."

"Good question." They soon pulled up in front of Murphy's place. "Call me when you finish those drawings." The detective handed her a business card. "You can drop them off at the station, or I'll send someone to pick them up."

"I don't have a car, Detective, so sending someone would be a good idea."

"Call me Elin. How do you get around?"

"Bicycle." Murphy grabbed her art bag, stepped from the car, and closed the door.


Excerpted from "Formula of Deception"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Carrie Stuart Parks.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Formula of Deception: A Novel 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 28 reviews.
Anonymous 5 months ago
Anonymous 7 months ago
As I read this book I kept thinking “This is great if you suspend reality...”. But what was reality? The plot twists multiplied exponentially, and you never knew what was truth or deception until the very end. Well worth the read! Just be sure you have a good chunk of time to set aside to read, because this book is compelling!
mrskbookstogo 12 months ago
Murphy's lies were getting her in deep, ever since she came to Kodiak Island she just couldn't keep out of these situations. What began as a half truth has quickly ensnared her in an investigation as a forensic artist. After a year on Kodiak, Murphy found that the rain provided a perfect atmosphere. Hiding from the past was becoming comfortable. Painting a few pictures, crafting sea glass jewelry helped her get by. Mr. Brinkley had claimed her small accommodations as his home, once in he became her sounding board and confidant. He wasn't just a stray, he was all she had that kept her past and present somewhat balanced. Why had her sister come to Kodiak? Why is the serial killer on the loose, could he be the reason so many are dying? How could he have followed her? Detective Elin Olsson has strong instincts. She knows that Murphy has what it takes to help document the newest crime scenes. She knows she can trust Murphy to get the evidence that will lead to a conviction. What began as a deathbed confession, has now become a double homicide. What did that old hunter discover on the Ruuwaq Island ten years ago? Bertie Fischer is from the state's crime lab. On Ruuwaq Island, Bertie takes a death-defying fall that sends her to the Anchorage hospital. But, before she goes, she enlists Murphy's help against Zinkerton. Bertie knows who Murphy is and why she has arrived on Kodiak. Joshua Ward is a patrol officer, who takes over helping Murphy gather evidence while Bertie is hospitalized. For Joshua, Murphy seems like a real life Jessica Fletcher. Everyone around her is dying. Ryan Wallace is a journalist writing a history piece about the Salmon Run Lodge. That is until he has to rescue Murphy from the owner. Are you ready for one wild and crazy ride of deception? MrsK
GailHollingsworth 12 months ago
I’ve read a couple of books by Carrie Stuart Parks before but this one was totally different. A psychological thriller for sure! The main character Murphy is really messed up. She has experienced terrible things that put her in an asylum of her own will. When the story begins she is out and hiding from a killer that is after her. She changes her identity and appearance to better keep him at bay. Suffice it to say there were so many twists and turns during the story that I got confused a few times. There were bits of WWII included as well as plenty of dead bodies that seemed totally unrelated. How did they connect, or did they? It seemed that nearly everyone Murphy came in contact with wound up dead or injured. There is no way I would have ever figured out the ending. It was bizarre at best. Do not cheat and skip to the ending! Don’t you like surprises, because there is plenty in this novel. I like the fact that the author has criminal police experience and is a forensic artist. That really adds authenticity to the story. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through the Fiction Guild but was not required to write a review positive or otherwise.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
I did enjoy the book but there were times I was a little lost. I think it is because there were so many characters, I couldn't keep up with them. The story is good though and kept my interest throughout. I loved that it was set in Alaska. I hear that it is beautiful there, but I don't think I could handle the cold weather. Murphy is a complex character and I tried to connect with her. Her need to hide out in a town that no one knows her really intrigued me. She has encountered a dark past that has traumatized her. Her fear is that the person who she thought would stay in prison forever just might be on the loose. That would certainly have me on edge. She is a bright woman and fits in well in the town until she starts to lie about her background. The title of the book is perfect, because the story is full of deceptions. I loved how the author seamlessly included history from WWII. That just enhances the mystery more when unexplained deaths start occurring during a murder investigation. No one is safe who has anything to do with investigating the crime, and bodies start to drop. Murphy must use her wits and survival instincts to stay ahead of danger. The ending will catch you off guard. It's another hit for this gifted author. I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild. The review is my own opinion.
pianosue More than 1 year ago
An interesting read. I received this book from the Fiction Guild. Murphy Anderson is an artist hiding from an escaped killer and uncovers one of WW II's most dangerous secrets - one that men will do anything to keep hidden. Will Murphy find her missing twin sister and the escaped convict who is hunting her? Then she is pulled in to help draw the face of a dead man that a hunter found. Will she be able to figure out what is going on? Someone is killing the investigators one by one. Will Murphy be next? Will she find her sister? Alot of action going on in this story and several twists and turns. I did not expect the ending of this book at all!
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild, I was not required to give a favorable review. This book was very hard to put down. The suspense in it keeps you on your toes throughout the whole book. Murphy went to Kodiak, Alaska thinking she would get the answers to her sisters disappearance. But she ends up doing is helping the police department as a forsenic artist but then she also find herself involved in more than just that. She ends up uncovering a deception that had been in place since 1941 and a whole lot of murders have been going on to quite everyone involved. If you love a book with a lot of intrigue I would recommend this book to read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Formula for deception by Carrie Stuart Parks is a suspense thriller with more unexpected twists and turns than a ride through the mountains. After Murphy Anderson's sister is murdered, she changes her name and moves to Kodiak, Alaska. She is asked by the local police to use her art skills to draw a dying man's memories. Those memories dredge up secret events that date back to WWII. As Murphy uncovers the story, she finds layers upon layers of secrets, and the people around her keep dying. No one who is who they seem to be. Everyone has their own agenda. Can she figure out who can be trusted, and solve the mystery before she is killed? If you like action-packed suspense with surprises, this book is for you.
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
This is my first read by this author and will not be my last. It is a roller coaster ride of intense plot twists that keeps you on the edge of your seat and looking over your shoulder for the killer or killers. It is difficult to figure out and has several surprises in store. Murphy is a character you can identify with as she has lost her twin sister and trying to solve what really happened to her. She meets multiple characters along the way and when you throw in the historical aspects of WWII it has you in its grip. Suspense that makes you dig deep to try to solve the mysterious crimes. Very enjoyable read. I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild. The honest review and opinions are own and were not required.
bookbloggerKB More than 1 year ago
Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks Artist Murphy Anderson has a past. She finds herself in the middle of a mystery where people who have the answers she needs, killed. She fears she may be next, especially since the murderer of her twin sister has escaped prison. She is not sure who to trust. As the murderer gets closer, she must protect the innocent and somehow put the pieces together to solve the mystery. This is the first in a series about a new character for this author. Her previous series was about Gwen Marcey, a forensic artist. I really enjoyed those books. Apparently, Gwen is taking a well-deserved rest. Her new character, Murphy, has much to admire. I do admit to being a bit confused about what exactly had happened to her in the past. But perhaps another book will clear that up. I enjoyed the suspense in this book. The plot moved along and had some twists that really surprised me. Although the plot was a bit gory, the writing was not. The part about being a “soul searcher” was new to me and although Murphy certainly demonstrated those traits, I found myself wondering if this was a literary device or whether there is any proof of such a thing existing. Fans of Carrie Parks will enjoy this book and so will fans of Christian suspense. I look forward to her next book. I am grateful to the publisher for a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great plot . Many twists and quirks . Ending unexpe cted. Looking forward to next book.
SemmieWise More than 1 year ago
** “Strength comes from being afraid, facing it, then triumphing over it.” ** Carrie Stuart Parks steps away from her popular Gwen Marcey character in “Formula of Deception,” an action-packed psychological thriller you are not going to want to put down. Murphy Andersen finds herself in Kodiak, Alaska, searching for her missing sister, who is allegedly the last victim of the Anchorage Serial Killer, Clinton Hunter. To make ends meet, Murphy, who lies about being a forensic artist, is asked to come draw a memory a dying man has of a crime scene from 10 years ago, which takes her to the mysterious island of Ruuwaq. As everyone near Murphy and this case, which reaches back to World War II, becomes either injured or dead, Murphy must determine whom she can trust, as not everyone is who they seem to be, and where she can turn for help. And does any of the mysteries that occur relate to her sister and her murderer? “Formula of Deception” is a non-stop, heart-pumping psychological thriller that will leave you guessing at every turn of the page. Helping to move the plot along, Parks fills the story with great characters, like the very broken Murphy; the delightfully real crime lab technician Bertie; the hunky yet mysterious police officer Joshua; the enigmatic Stewart family, including the patriarch Denali who owns the Salmon Run Lodge, his adorable grandson Lucas, lovable dog Quinn, and intriguing housekeeper Olga; the journalist digging into the Stewarts’ past, Ryan; and Vesper, a woman willing to risk it all to help Murphy. Parks does a great job of building up the storyline, without giving away the major shocker at the end. But she also fills her story with not just great suspense, but also with great historical lessons, particularly to do with World War II and Alaska’s role in the war. She also touches on scientific themes that deal with warfare and are crucial to the plot. But besides being an amazing psychological thriller with a touch of historical fiction, “Formula of Deception” also offers many great lessons — determining whom we can trust; forgiveness, especially of ourselves; overcoming guilt; and the fact that we each have gifts and must decide how we will use them. Two major themes deal with the fact that we all have scars, but all scars heal, no matter how deep; and we should all rise above ourselves and strive to help each other as we never know when we might be helping angels (see Hebrews 13:2). Fans of authors like Lynette Eason, Lisa Harris and Patricia Bradley will love this book. I don’t know if this is intended to be a standalone novel, but I sure hope not. I’d love to return to Alaska and Murphy’s story. Five stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
MelissaF More than 1 year ago
This book definitely has an interesting story-line and a lot going on. For me I just never connected with the book. I felt like Murphy’s faking being a forensic artist (not sure if that is what they are really called) was pretty unrealistic. There was so much going on in the book that my brain could never really land anywhere. I was never pulled into the story. This book just wasn’t for me, but I have read other great reviews, so as always this is my opinions only. A copy of this book was given to my through the BookLook Blogger program. All opinions are my own.
More_Than_A_Review More than 1 year ago
Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks. This was my first book by Carrie. The book opens with a scene to capture your attention. Carrie continues to sprinkle in bits and pieces of her history and the mystery to keep you guessing until the end. I did experience a short section that I felt was slow and then it picked right back up and when a bang. I did NOT figure it all out. The author did a great job of surprising me. There is a mystery from the past and the present. Murphy is an artist and she is helping solve a mystery while she is also looking for her sister and her sister’s boyfriend. The author did a great job of intertwining two intense mysteries together. I don’t want to ruin any of the surprises so I will keep my review relatively short. I enjoyed how the woman was trying to warn her off of Jonathan by telling Murphy that he has 4 boys. One of my favorite scenes is when the boys are introduced. Violence - 3. There are several deaths throughout the book both past and present. None of them are described in graphic detail. There is also someone trying to kill her. And she is trying to find her sister or her sister’s body. Sex - 0 Language Drinking I received this book from Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review. You can see my full review at More Than a Review dot com where I rate the level of sex, violence, language and drug/alcohol use in books.
bookstoregal More than 1 year ago
was hooked on this book from the beginning! I didn't want to put it down!! The end was definitely not what I expected, but it was good. I would say that self-perception, and forgiveness are 2 of the main themes in this book. I loved Murphy, and Joshua, and Bertie, and Olga! And Butch too. Lots of twists and turns in the mystery. Enjoyable book!
Blooming-with-Books More than 1 year ago
Gest ready to stay up reading into the early morning hours... Formula of Deception By Carrie Stuart Parks Murphy Anderson has a secret - she's not who she says she is. Yes, she is Murphy Anderson sort of but she has distanced herself from the woman she used to be. Ever since her sister was murdered - there may not have been a body but Murphy knew. With the special bond that they shared as twins she just knew. And she was in Kodiak on a mission to find her sister and hopefully find peace herself. But when Murphy's purse and all her identification and funds are stolen she reluctantly uses her art skills to help the local PD. Ten years ago a hunter - Vasily Scherbakov went to Ruuwaq Island but what he found was not the game he sought instead, he stumbled upon the remains of five men. For tens years he has kept this terrible secret but now on his deathbed, he wishes to unburden his soul and unfortunately for Murphy, she's the person that the Kodiak PD is tasking with creating a sketch of the scene and the victims. Shortly after this first interview, anyone related to this cold case seems to be a target for someone who is determined to keep the past firmly and completely in the past. And when it appears that her sister's killer has found her Murphy finds herself wondering whom she can trust... Formula of Deception is an intense page turning all night read! Seriously one truly is left wondering for the vast majority of this book who would be left standing at the end. And as to the murderer - well you have to read the book to wrap your mind around this twisted web of lies and betrayals. Maybe wait a year or two to visit Kodiak if, by chance that is on your list of things to do, I think they may need to do a wee bit of rebuilding. If you are looking for a good mix of action, suspense, and whodunit that appears to be a standalone book pick up this book and dive in! Yes, there are several murders but it is not a horrendously gruesome book - I made that mistake once and have since been picker about what I read. I was provided a complimentary review copy of this book by the publisher through their BookLook blogger program with no expectations other than that I offer my honest review - all opinions offered are my own.
kp68 More than 1 year ago
Formula of Deception is the first book by Carrie Stuart Parks that I have read. It is definitely a fast-paced tale as you follow Murphy Anderson around town in Kodiak, Alaska! After Murphy, an artist, joins the local police group to help document a dying man's last words, you may be surprised when this man and his caregiver wind up dead the next day! Murphy has her own mystery that she is trying to solve. She is driven to understand the details surrounding her twin sister's death, which occurred years ago! This tale is full of so many details, it is difficult to keep track of it all. As individuals involved with the police investigation keep winding up dead, Murphy does not know where to turn next. Hold on until the final page for all the pieces of this investigation to come together! I was somewhat disappointed with this tale. In light of that, I do not think I will be quick to pick up another of Carrie Stuart Parks books any time soon!
joyful334209 More than 1 year ago
Formula Of Deception - Wow did Ms. Parks outdo herself. This story is thrilling, agonizingly mysterious, calculating and downright breathtaking from the ride you are on - you have it all - the who, what, where, when and why - who and why is what you are so longing looking at each page trying to find out just who and just why. The author has brilliantly made the characters full of life and what is most of all important - full of Faith. The characters are complicating real. They were brought to life from the very beginning. You have Murphy Anderson - who is an artist - but tries to convince others that she is a forensic artist.- has a secret - one that could harm those around her - will she ever share? Will she even care that her life is in danger? Is seeking the one hiding as smart as she thinks it is? The reason why she does all this is for a very serious - life changing reason. While she portrays herself as a Forensic Artist she is hired by The police in the town she just moved to - she starts working in a cold case as well as trying to deal with this secret she has that causes severe repercussions on those she know. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Netgalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. if you would like to read more of my Christian book reviews go to
CaraPutman More than 1 year ago
Formula of Deception is set in Alaska is filled with international intrigue, historical twists, and a broken heroine who is compelling.This novel is perfect for those who love a suspense that will keep you guessing as you turn the pages. I can't tell if it's the first in a series or a stand alone, but I was tugged through the story with a force that kept me wishing for just a few more minutes. It has pacing, a fascinating historical twist set in WWII so you know I loved it, and a heroine I just wanted to protect. A great story.
connywithay More than 1 year ago
“Hey, and listen. Be careful. Three people connected to this case are dead,” Murphy is warned in Carrie Stuart Parks’s novel, Formula of Deception. ~ What ~ This three-hundred-and-twenty-page paperback targets those who enjoy a Christian suspense fiction about a series of murders in Alaska. With no profanity, topics of abuse, murder, and death may not be appropriate for immature readers. The ending includes an author’s note and biography, acknowledgments, eight discussion questions, and advertisements. This tale set in current day Kodiak, Alaska, Murphy Anderson is hiding from a serial killer who she thinks has her sister. When she listens to an Alaskan hunter’s death bed confession, she pretends to be a forensic artist who draws his haunting memories of men who mysteriously died on nearby Ruuwaq Island. By assisting the local police, she helps uncover a World War II Quonset hut that may have been used for producing biological warfare. As those she meets tell her she is a “soul searcher,” those who are connected to the mystery are killed, forcing her to wonder who is on her side. ~ Why ~ This is a fast “who-done-it” read that makes the reader keep guessing and wondering as Murphy tries to stay one step ahead of the killer who is trying to keep the past buried. I like that it was well written without any errors. ~ Why Not ~ Those who do not like stories that contain a belief in God or are a mystery suspense will not be interested in this book. The romantic interlude between the protagonist and a cop was brief. Some may get confused by the plot as it jumps around with Murphy being the only one to figure things out before anyone else does. ~ Wish ~ I wish the last third part of the book was not rushed or scattered with the characters being tossed about as possible perpetrators. The conversations in Murphy’s head of her sister talking to her were confusing and disruptive to this reader. ~ Want ~ If you want to learn about some Alaskan World War II events that are shrouded around a murder mystery with one woman solving the crime, this may be a good read for you, but I finished it with a foggy brain, wondering how it was put together. Thanks to Tyndale for this complimentary book that I am not obligated to review.
HollyMag321 More than 1 year ago
“Oh Holy Plot Twist Batman!” This went from a good story to a great story with a very unexpected plot twist toward the end of the book! I did not see it coming! The main character, Murphy, was quirky and had a lot of spunk. I liked her a lot.The only negative is it didn’t seem to pay to be her friend. As far as the story, I found it fascinating. I had no idea the Japanese occupied Alaska. There was a good amount of action and a taste of romance. But most of all the plot twist at the end just floored me. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Abold24 More than 1 year ago
Formula of Deception is an engaging, entertaining book full of surprises and suspense. The entire time I read the book I did not want to put the book down. There are many twists and turns to the plot and several things occurred that surprised me (I did not see it coming). The main character of this book is Murphy Anderson, who is an artist working with the local police. As I read about Murphy’s character and as things were revealed about her, I liked her character more and more. I enjoyed some of the secondary characters as well. Their stories were interesting and engaging. This suspenseful book was fantastic and I highly recommend the book! You will not be disappointed. I have read some of her other books and liked them, but this one is written so well!!! ***I was given a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher for an honest review. This is my honest opinion. Even though I received this copy free, I have purchased her books before.
sesquius More than 1 year ago
This was an interesting book. It kept me captivated and intrigued from beginning to end. I would find myself zooming ahead only to realize that I needed to pause and re-read a section. Then the twist at the end of the book was truly unexpected. Up until that point I was hanging on, trying to keep up with the smaller twists the book was tossing out to me. But, this last twist threw me for a loop. I was confused. I was fascinated. Did I like where the story went? To be honest, I’m not sure. And even now, having just set the book aside, I’m still puzzled as to my stance on the book. That said, I would definitely consider this a book to read. For the next reader to get their own opinion on it. There are enough scheming that you will be having to pay attention to the various players within the book. As it is, I look forward to passing this book to my sister for her to read. There was one section that I found truly fascinated, and that was the talk of the start of Lyme disease and it’s potential in being biological warfare. The first time I came upon this theory was on Reddit on a conspiracy thread, so to read it here, in published Christian fiction book was a bit interesting. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and was under no obligation to post a review.
ganderson523 More than 1 year ago
Formula of Deception is a great mystery with many twists and turns. The story takes place in Kodiak, Alaska where artist Murphy Anderson takes a job as a crime scene artist with the local police department. She has been asked to draw a crime scene that a dying Russian man stumbled upon ten years ago when he found five bodies on the remote island of Ruuwaq. But it soon becomes apparent that someone is trying to stop the crime from being exposed. In the middle of working on her drawing the Russian and his caretaker are killed. Murphy is in Kodiak to find out what happened when her twin sister was murdered by her boyfriend, serial killer Clinton Hunter. Murphy is using her middle name and has changed her look so that she won't be recognized. After the Russian and his caretaker are killed, people around Murphy start being murdered or injured. Then she finds out that Hunter has escaped prison. Someone is leaving notes that appear to be from him. Maybe he is the one killing people and is trying to get to her. But there is also something going on with the island where the bodies were found-something that dates back to World War II and is tied to people in Kodiak as well as the government of the US and other countries during the war. Murphy doesn't know who to trust as people around her are killed. This is a tale that is winding and full of surprises. It is a very interesting story that is hard to put down as the story unwinds and the truth is exposed by layers. Another great mystery by Carrie Stuart Parks. I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. All opinions stated are mine only.
Ollie1 More than 1 year ago
* 3.5 star review * Murphy Anderson has a sad and dark past. Her sister was murdered by a serial killer who has since escaped from jail. This novel is set with Murphy living in Kodiak Alaska, trying to move on and get some closure from her sister death. In the mean time a ww2 mystery begins to unfold when Murphy is send to help investigate a possible crime scene on Ruuwaq island. This unravels many mysteries with lots of twists and turns. An overall enjoyable read. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.