Gwen Marcey takes death in stride. Until she’s faced with her own mortality.
Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before Gwen can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others.
Gwen suspects a connection between the rapist and the “accidental” deaths that are happening around town, but the local sheriff has little interest in her theories. When her digitally-obsessed teenage daughter joins her, Gwen turns her attention to a second assignment: going undercover in a serpent-handling church. She could get a handsome reward for uncovering illegal activity—a reward she desperately needs, as it seems her breast cancer has returned. But snakes aren’t the only ones ready to kill. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself?
In a thrilling race against time, When Death Draws Near plunges us into cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects.
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
When Death Draws Near
A Gwen Marcey Novel
By Carrie Stuart Parks
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2016 Carrie Stuart Parks
All rights reserved.
"MA'AM. SHERIFF REED TOLD ME TO COME AND get you. He said he was sorry you had to wait so long. The body's here. I mean, it was here before ... downstairs. In the morgue."
I craned my head backward to see the young, lean-faced deputy standing over me. He had to be six foot four or taller, very slender, with wispy brown hair. His eyes were blue with heavy lids and his mouth red, probably from chewing his lips. Sure enough, his cheeks flushed at my studying him and he started gnawing his lower lip.
Sitting outside the Pikeville Community Hospital, I'd been enjoying the late-October sunshine and waiting for someone to remember I was here. I picked up my forensic art kit and followed the officer through a set of doors to an elevator next to the nurses' station. "I'm sorry. I didn't catch your name."
"Junior Reed." He nodded at his answer. "Sheriff Reed is my father."
I did a double take. He didn't look anything like Clayton Reed, the sheriff of Pike County, Kentucky, who'd picked me up from the Lexington airport yesterday. "Nice to meet you, Junior." I stuck out my hand. "I'm Gwen Marcey."
He hesitated for a moment, staring at my hand, then awkwardly shook it. His hand was wet.
The elevator door opened. As we entered, I surreptitiously wiped my hand on my slacks. The elevator seemed to think about moving, then quietly closed and slipped to the floor below, taking much longer than simply running down the stairs. The elevator finally opened. The smell hit me immediately.
I swallowed hard and took a firmer grip on my kit.
Several deputies had gathered in the middle of the hall, talking softly. They turned and stared at us. I couldn't quite decipher the expressions on their faces. They parted as we approached, revealing a closed door inscribed with the word Morgue.
Junior entered the room and moved to the body bag resting on a stainless steel table. Sheriff Clayton Reed — a large man with a thick chest, buzz-cut hair, and gray-blond mustache, stood next to a man in navy blue scrubs. I nodded at the man. "Hello. I'm Gwen Marcey, the forensic artist."
"Ma'am. I'm Dr. Billy Graham." He noted my raised eyebrows and grinned. "My parents had high hopes for a particular career direction."
I grinned back, then slowed as I approached the table. I'd seen bodies before. Too many times before, but I still had a moment of hesitation when I knew what was coming. This was once someone's son or daughter, parent or friend. And no one knew of the death. Then the analytical part of my brain would take over, and I could concentrate on drawing the face of the unknown remains.
I just had to get past the ick moment.
"Here you go," Sheriff Clay Reed said in a deep Appalachian accent. My brain was still trying to translate his comments for my western Montana ears. "So far, no one has recognized ... what was left." He unzipped the body bag. Several flies made an angry exit. The odor was like a solid wall.
Junior spun and made it to a bucket near the door before losing his lunch.
I fought the urge to join him.
The sheriff frowned at Junior, then caught my gaze. "He never had much of a stomach for smells."
I could relate to that. "What ... um ... what can you tell me about the body?"
"According to the doc here" — Clay nodded at the man — "he's been dead for at least a month, but hard to say exactly at this time ... critters and all ... in his late teens or early twenties. Slender. Teeth in pretty good shape, but obviously never been to a dentist. No help there."
Pulling out a small sketchbook and pencil, I jotted down the sheriff's information. "No one reported him missing?"
The sheriff shook his head. "But that's not surprising. A lot of folks around here steer clear of the law."
"Cause of death?"
"Can't be sure just yet," the doctor said. "But I'd guess ... snakebite."
I stopped writing and looked up. "I thought, I mean, didn't you say he was murdered?"
"In a sense, he was." Clay nodded toward a counter beside him. "We found those with the body."
A white cotton bag, badly stained; a golf club with a bend at the end; a long clamping tool; a revolver; and a moldy Bible all lay spread out.
"Okay. What does that tell you?" I asked.
"I'd say he was snake hunting," the sheriff said.
"I still don't understand."
"The golf club with the metal hook on the end is a homemade snake hook. They cut the club off the end, then bend a piece of metal to form a U."
"Can't you just buy one?"
"That can cost a bit. But folks are always throwing away golf clubs." Clay chuckled. "I've tossed more than my fair share after a bad round of golf."
He stopped chuckling at my expression. "Well then, those are snake tongs, and the bag is to put the snake into. The revolver is loaded with snake-shot ammunition."
"But that doesn't mean —"
He unzipped the body bag farther. Lying across the man's stomach was what was left of a very dead snake.
I dropped my pencil and paper. "Ohmigosh!"
"That's a big 'un." Junior had stopped throwing up and had moved next to me. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then started twiddling his fingers as if playing a trumpet.
Resisting the urge to bolt from the room, I bent down and snatched up my materials, then reached into my forensic kit and tugged out my digital camera. I stayed bent over until I felt some blood returning to my face. "What kind of snake is that?"
"I put in a call to Jason Morrow with animal control to identify —"
"Rattler," Junior said. "Crotalus horridus, also known as a canebrake or timber rattler —"
"That's enough, Junior," Clay said.
When I heard the zipper close on the body bag, I stood. Only the man's ravaged face was now exposed.
"Now, Sheriff," Dr. Graham said, "we don't know for sure yet that he died of snakebite. I only said he may have —"
"Come on, Billy," Clay said. "The snake's head was full of bird shot from that pistol. Obviously he got bit while trying to catch a snake. He didn't even try to go for help."
I felt at a loss as to what the men were talking about. Snakes in general gave me the creeps, and a stinky body with a snake on top really was pushing my heebie-jeebies meter. "Gentlemen, my knowledge and experience with snakes is very limited." I resisted the urge to add, Thank the Lord. "I still don't get why you consider this a murder."
"Oh, not an out-and-out murder," the sheriff said. "I mentioned he didn't even try to go for help. He shot the snake, then sat down, read his Bible, and prayed."
Before I could say anything, the sheriff held up a finger. "I'm not done. That Bible falls open to Mark 16. I think he was catching snakes to handle in church."
"Church?" My creeped-out meter ratcheted up a notch. "Uh, regardless of how he died, you did still want me to draw him for identification, right? Or are you just planning to go to his church and ask around?"
All the men exchanged glances. "Not that simple," the sheriff finally said. "We'll need that drawing."
I took a deep breath, instantly regretting it as the stench of the body filled my lungs. "Here's how this works. I'm going to photograph him from all angles with this evidence scale." I held up what looked like a small ruler. "I'll be ready to work on this drawing when I return to my hotel. You said the rape victim is upstairs, so I'll interview her —"
"Well now, Miz Marcey." Clay rubbed his chin. "Seems you have a lot to do with this here sketch. You can maybe meet with Shelby Lee tomorrow —"
"Why not now?"
"There's just no sense in overloading you with work."
I blinked at him. "I'm hardly overloaded. I'm here. Although I'm glad to help you with the unknown remains." I nodded at the body bag. "You did fly me out all the way from Montana to work on your serial rapist cases."
"Well now ..."
"Is something wrong, Sheriff?" I asked.
"No. No. No. Nothing. Nothing's wrong." He shook his head, then turned and headed for the door. "Follow me."
I stared at his retreating back. He's lying.CHAPTER 2
SHELBY LEE REALLY LOOKED DEAD.
Only the minuscule rising and falling of the blanket pulled up to her chest revealed a hint of life.
"Shelby Lee?" The sheriff touched her arm. "Shelby Lee, the artist lady is here. Wake up, honey."
I placed my forensic art kit, a small roller bag, on the floor. After pulling out a notepad and two pencils, tucking one behind my ear as backup, I moved closer to her bed.
Her porcelain skin blended with the hospital sheets. Delicate lavender veins tinted her eyelids while deep smudges of violet underscored her eyes. Her parted lips were raw and cracked. A line of cigarette burns marched up her arm, and the stitches on her temple stood out like a black centipede.
I snapped the pencil in two. Oh, Lord, I need to catch this guy.
The infusion pump above her head click-click-clicked away and cool, antiseptic-smelling air wheezed from the wall vent, gently fluffing my hair.
"She drifts in and out," Clay said. "Well, we tried —"
"Sheriff?" The question was an exhale of air from the girl.
"Ah, Shelby Lee, honey, this is the lady I told you about. Remember?" Clay moved slightly so she could see me. "Her name is Miz Marcey. She's going to draw a sketch of the man who did this to you."
"Call me Gwen." I kept my voice soft.
Shelby Lee looked from Clay's face to mine, then back to his. Her gaze slid down to his gold watch, then his left hand. Tears pooled in her eyes before trickling down her cheeks. She bit her lower lip and shook her head slightly.
Crimson welts circled her thin wrists and round bruises punctuated her throat.
"I can come back later if you want," I said.
She turned her head and stared at the wall.
"I was afraid of this." Clay touched my elbow and pointed to the door.
I picked up my kit and we stepped into the hallway. A hot flash, a reminder of my battle with breast cancer over a year ago, slipped up my neck and across my face. I waited until it passed.
"Well." Clay sighed. "Like I said, we tried. I can't thank you enough, Miz Marcey, for flying out here to help us —"
"Whoa, wait a minute." I placed the kit on the floor and held up my hands. "I didn't say I couldn't develop a composite sketch. I said I can come back when she's ready."
Clay ran a hand through his hair. "But what if she's never ready? I mean, I don't know anything about the stuff you do —"
"Yeah, that forensic art. Now, I'm just a country boy here, but isn't it true some folks can never remember?"
"Yeees." I half shrugged my shoulder. "Sometimes. We won't know until I try again. Or, since this is a serial rapist, I could work with other victims. Most rape victims will never forget the face of their attacker."
"That might be hard. The other victims skedaddled. In some cases, the whole family left town. No forwarding address."
"Don't know. Maybe the shame —"
"Shame? They're victims!"
"Now, Miz Marcey, don't get all riled."
"Please call me Gwen."
"Okay, Miz Gwen. That's not what I think. We have some small minds here." He shrugged. "I really don't know where they are. I had hoped that Shelby Lee —" Clay's cell phone jangled from his pocket. He tugged it out. "Sheriff Reed." He listened a moment. "We're getting busier than a stump-tailed cow in fly time." He dry-washed his face with one hand. "Get Junior on it. Okay then, who is on duty? Get her. No, I ... hang it, I'll come over myself." He dropped the phone into his pocket and frowned at me. "I gotta run." He swiftly strolled down the hall. "I'll get someone to give you a ride to the hotel," he called over his shoulder.
"But, Sheriff —"
I was alone. A prickling of unease touched me between the shoulder blades. I slowly wandered to the waiting area near the front doors of the hospital and slid onto an ultramodern black sofa. Sheriff Clay Reed seemed to give up pretty easily on using a forensic artist on that rape case. I thought for a moment, then pulled out my phone.
Dave answered on the first ring. "Ravalli County Sheriff's Department. Sheriff Moore."
"Ah. Gwen. In trouble already?"
"Good. I don't have time to spring you from jail. I'm on my way out the door to the Law Enforcement Torch Run in Seattle."
"About this temporary job you found for me —"
"You've been fired already? That didn't take long. Less than twenty-four hours."
"Dave, stop interrupting me."
A family of six poured into the waiting room. Two of the youngest seemed to be having a competition as to who could scream louder. "Hang on." I stood, grabbed my kit, and headed outside. Once there, I made sure no one was in earshot. "I thought you told me the sheriff here needed a forensic artist on a serial rapist case. I'm now working on an unknown remains."
"Hey, work is work."
"But this guy has no clue as to what to do with me!"
"I should welcome him to the club —"
"Dave! I just need to know what the deal is about this sheriff."
"Look, you told me you were broke."
"And you needed work. If I remember, you said you'd flip hamburgers if necessary."
I squeezed the phone tighter. "That's a figure of speech. About Clay ...?"
"I'm getting there," Dave said. "I made a few calls to former classmates from National Academy. One sheriff, from the next county over from you, mentioned the serial rapist. I called Sheriff Reed and told him about you."
"He initially wasn't interested, but called the next day and requested you."
"What made him change his mind?"
"I don't know, and I don't care. I'm late. If you don't like the job, just come home."
"I will. But something bothers me —"
"Fine. Be bothered. Talk to you later." He hung up.
Before I could call him back, a deputy drove up, parked, and signaled to me. I put my kit in the backseat, then slid into the front. "Ma'am." He drove me over to the hotel.
I suddenly felt exhausted. My plane had been delayed getting into Lexington the previous day, and even though Clay picked me up, the drive from Lexington to Pikeville was another two hours over a winding road. At the hotel, I'd only slept a short amount of time. I wasn't used to street sounds and lights outside my window.
The deputy dropped me off in front of the hotel and I crossed to the front desk. The clerk was a woman in her twenties with short black hair, a purple streak on the left side. Five earrings marched up each ear and a small silver loop pierced her eyebrow. Her name badge said Ina Jo.
"Hi." I grinned at her. "Do you have a list of places to eat? Either walking distance or delivery."
Ina Jo opened a drawer and pulled out a handful of menus. I was about to ask about recommendations when a woman arrived with an adorable baby. "She had a good nap." The woman handed the baby over to Ina Jo. The clerk took her and automatically started rocking back and forth and rubbing the baby's back.
"What a cutie," I said.
Ina Jo beamed, then said to the other woman, "Can you take her tomorrow? I have to work."
I grabbed up the menus and left the two women working out babysitting details. Crossing the marble-and-wood-lined lobby to the first-floor hall, I made my way down to my corner room. Windows faced the front of the hotel and a parking lot on the side. An exit door to my left led to the back parking area. During the day, the staff routinely propped the door open with a large rock to facilitate frequent smoking breaks, a security violation that fell on deaf ears when I pointed it out.
The hotel had been remodeled recently, and my suite featured a kitchenette and a separate bedroom, all decorated in neutral, earth-toned colors. The space allowed me to spread my forensic art materials across the kitchen and living area. After turning off my cell, I kicked off my black pumps and strolled to the bedroom. Then I pulled the drapes to block the view of the parking lot. I took off the claret-colored Burberry jacket and matching slacks and hung them up. My fingers lingered on the expensive fabric. Fortunately I was the right size to benefit from a barely worn, designer wardrobe dumped at a Missoula secondhand shop.
I unsnapped my specially made bra containing a pair of heavy breast prostheses and draped it over a chair. The breast forms were a necessary evil until I decided what I would do about the double mastectomy I'd had over a year and a half ago. I hadn't been able to recover the last prostheses, dubbed Lucy and Ethel, buried somewhere in Utah. It had been my first case after finishing up my cancer treatments, a little more than a year ago. I'd almost lost my life. I was grateful that the only thing buried was a couple of synthetic boobs. The current pair I'd christened Thelma and Louise.
Excerpted from When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks. Copyright © 2016 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.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
With nearly seven billion people on this planet it is a wonderous pleasure to find unique authenticity in an author! The unexpected twist ending is difficult to pull off. With well hidden clues this one was more than successful. Gwen Marcy is a character the reader will instantly feel an affinity for. We know her. She's the quirky, talented friend we love. This book is a scary, funny, and interesting glimpse into the world of crime and forensic art. Bravo Carrie Parks!
I really enjoyed this book. It was different.
Could a church known for snake handling and poison drinking be the cause of young women's deaths? Who was killing the young women? Why were so many church members dead? Who could be trusted? This suspenseful novel kept me guessing until the surprising ending. I received a free copy of this book.
WHEN DEATH DRAWS NEAR by Carrie Stuart Parks. Haven't read her books before, can now see why others rate her so highly. A forensic artist out of a job, goes to a small town in Kentucky to help them. A rapist is on the loose, and the victims are disappearing. Before she can get a drawing to help them get the person. Snake handlers, going undercover, choices she makes in this case. The novel is written in first person, and the compelling story begins at the first page. Characters are very well developed, plot is filled with tension. Given ARC by Net Galley for my voluntary and honest review, I have given.
WHEN DEATH DRAWS NEAR; STORY LINE: Gwen Marcey, forensic artist, is back in action in When Death Draws Near, book 3 of the Gwen Marcey stories. Pikeville, Kentucky is the center of murder, accidents, and rapes; then, there are the Pentecostal Snake Handlers to add spice. Gwen's job in Pikeville is to render a drawing the latest victim. What starts as a simple case spirals out of control into much worse. Gwen finds her cancer has returned, her ex-husband is still a controlling conniving jerk who loves to humiliate and demean her, and something is very off in Pikeville. The Hillbilly Rapist is active, bodies are found murdered, the Sheriff's Dept seems ineffective, and the local underground snake handling Pentecostal Church is going strong. Gwen finds herself hired to infiltrate the group, identify and render drawings the handlers and report any illegal activity. The richest man in town, who happens to have White House aspirations, wants the Pentecostal snake handlers out of business. Pikeville is a hub of criminal activity and Gwen finds herself in the center of the storm. Come with Gwen as she ferrets out the truth, protects her daughter, meets a new man, and delivers justice. WHEN DEATH DRAWS NEAR, CHARACTERS, PLOTTING, AND DEVELOPMENT: In When Death Draws Near, author Carrie Stuart Parks has crafted a first-rate criminal story. As a result, I found I could not put down this book. Ms. Parks had many threads in this story which she skillfully wove together to create an intense and intriguing story-line. Consequently, the plots just kept coming; woven into the story by a master. Furthermore, Ms. Parks has a cast of characters which she skillfully developed and was progressive throughout the book. You will root for Gwen, shiver and worry when in danger, despise her ex-husband, and love her attitude to life. Her daughter you will find is a normal teenager with all their attitudes and opinions. The secondary characters are essential to the story line and well-developed. Also, I found Ms. Parks' research into the Pentecostal Movement well done and her legal background added much authenticity to the story-line. Ms. Parks has a killer of an ending which you will not expect. Kudos, Ms. Parks, kudos. What a surprise, my mouth fell open! The pacing of the revelations were spot on and the length of the book was correct. This book does not rely on fluff to fill the pages. In concluding the review of When Death Draws Near, I found this a well-written and developed book. The story never lags or bogs down nor does the author fill the story with meaningless dialogue. Once again, Ms. Parks has crafted a first-rate criminal story-line. WHEN DEATH DRAWS NEAR, RECOMMENDATION: 5 STARS: In conclusion, I do not hesitate to give this book 5 stars. You will not regret purchasing this book if you love a good solid crime story. Final Note: I received this book from the author and Netgalley in return for an honest book review. Book reviews of any novel are dependent on the book review author’s opinion; consequently book reviews on line under my name and on my blog are my opinion.
I love a good suspense. If it has interesting characters, a great career, and a plot that keeps me reading, I'm hooked! That's exactly what happened with When Death Draws Near. I thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Gwen Marcey series, and this one takes it one step further. Her personal life continues to be out of control with the tension of providing for her daughter and keeping her safe when Gwen gets plunged into a new murder. This one dives deep into the wilds of Kentucky where people are dying from what appears to be snake handling. Is there more to it? And what can she do to track down the culprits while fighting back against her nemesis: breast cancer? There are political layers. Spiritual layers. Crime. Tension. Suspense. A race from the first chapter to the end, this book will delight suspense lovers of all types.
Carrie Stuart Parks in her new book, “When Death Draws Near” Book Three in the Gwen Marcey series published by Thomas Nelson gives us another adventure with Gwen Marcey. From the back cover: Gwen Marcey takes death in stride. Until she’s faced with her own mortality. Forensic artist Gwen Marcey is between jobs when she accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before Gwen can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others. Gwen suspects a connection between the rapist and the “accidental” deaths that are happening around town, but the local sheriff has little interest in her theories. When her digitally-obsessed teenage daughter joins her, Gwen turns her attention to a second assignment: going undercover in a serpent-handling church. She could get a handsome reward for uncovering illegal activity—a reward she desperately needs, as it seems her breast cancer has returned. But snakes aren’t the only ones ready to kill. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself? In a thrilling race against time, When Death Draws Near plunges us into cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects. Let me start off by stating that I think that this book is even more exciting than the previous two and I thought that both of them were real page turners. Gwen Marcey is a forensics expert which means she gets involved by trying to reconstruct the face of the serial rapist from testimony. To me this cannot be an easy assignment yet Ms. Parks manages to keep you on the edge of your seat as you read through her book. This is hot stuff. Gwen Marcey is warm and likable and we get engaged in her life. “When Death Draws Near” is a thriller, which simply means that Gwen is in grave danger from, practically, the beginning. Ms. Parks gives us a really complex mystery and “When Death Draws Near” is full of twists and turns, with a few red herrings thrown in just to cause confusion. This is an exciting book, extremely well paced and suspenseful. I am so looking forward to more Gwen Marcey stories. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks is probably my favorite mystery/suspense read of all-time. That is saying a lot as I have read and enjoyed some pretty amazing books. There was just something about this book that really just sucked me in and kept me turning the pages. Gwen Marcey is a heroine who has a lot on her plate. Not only is she a forensic artist, but she is divorced, trying to raise a 15 year old daughter, battling cancer, and just really trying to keep her head above water personally and financially. She travels to Kentucky to work on a case dealing with rape victims. However, the sheriff is acting a bit peculiar about the whole situation and then before she can even interview the victim, the victim disappears. More strange things happen and then Gwen is asked by a powerful politician to go undercover into a snake handling church to expose them and to help put a stop to their religious practices. Everything begins to get dicier and Gwen is unsure of who to trust if anybody, as she discovers more secrets about this town and the church. There is a lot that takes place but I did not get lost in any of it, the author moved this story at a pretty quick clip and I did not want to stop till I got to the end. I read it in a day. The author also raises some interesting moral questions about religious freedom in our country and what that really means. This is the first book I have read by Carrie Stuart Parks and it is the third in the series and I immensely enjoyed it. Definitely a must read author. I received a copy for an honest review through Litfuse Publicity and the opinions are my own.
This is the third book in the Gwen Marcey series, but the first one I had read. Gwen is a character all moms can relate to- she is struggling to keep things normal for her daughter, dealing with an ex, and struggling to cover expenses. that is part of what makes the book such a page turner- Gwen is a realistic character in explainable real circumstances. This is a really quick read, that will have you guessing and then re-guessing who the killer really is, until the crazy ending, that will leave you ready for the next book in the series! It will also make you want to go back and read books 1 and 2 (A Cry From the Dust and The Bones Will Speak), it's a perfect Fall read!
Have I mentioned my love of crime shows? I’m sure I have…that and also the fact that I had to stop watching Criminal Minds because I was freaking myself out. If my doorbell rings, you bet I hide. Clearly you are up to criminal mischief if you show up at my house unannounced…. See, I clearly had good reasons to stop. But I’m fascinated by it all and especially how crimes are solved. I say all this because that has been one of my favorite parts of the Gwen Marcey novels. With her background in forensics, Parks has incorporated fascinating details with nonstop novels and I have loved each one! You know those books that follow a character you grow to love? I used to love the Alex Cross novels – I loved his character. This is one such series. Each one is a stand alone, but it makes it so much more fun reading all of them. You can’t help but love Gwen. She cracks me up. I know. These are thriller crime novels, but she really does. I love a character with hilarious commentary (Thelma and Louise y’all! – Sorry, you’ll only get that if you’ve read it! – I kept cracking up!) and Gwen is one such character. I think this might be my favorite of the three. I loved the plot (with unexpected beginnings and endings), the new characters and how everything came together. Not only because it was creative, but it had me hooked the entire time. I also really liked the other characters in this story too. I’m always learning something new (like serpent handlers!) and as with her first two novels, each group is fascinating to learn about. I also really like Gwen and her daughter, Ainsley’s, relationship and the different ways it has grown since the first book. I’m so glad there’s another Gwen Macey novel coming out early next year! I’ll be the first to sign up!! Have y’all had a chance to read any Gwen Macey novels? (Thank you to Litfuse Publicity for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review) Originally posted at http://booksandbeverages.org/2016/08/16/death-draws-near-carrie-stuart-parks-book-review-giveaway/
Shew, this book was so good, but I have to say it threw me for a loop. The very first page nearly lost me, with the use of glossalia to indicate the character speaking in tongues. As a lifelong Pentecostal, I have never EVER seen that done and it really caused me some concern. The book however didn't do that with the exception of the beginning page, so I read on. And I was happy and thrilled that I did, what a great story. I am looking forward to the next Gwen Marcy novel. 4 stars from this reviewer. Great story, once I got over my initial shock. This book was provided for review purposes only, no payment was received for this book.
And I thought . . . When I was offered the opportunity to read and review this book I was excited. I am a fan of thrilling suspenseful and a little romantic books. I opened it and began reading the day I received it. I got to the end of chapter two and put it down. It didn't 'click'. A few weeks later I picked it up again. I got a little farther along but I just couldn't get into this book. This weekend because this review is due I picked up with the intention of reading it all the way through. And honestly it finally began to become interesting to me. But as I finished the last page I was back to my first impression. I didn't like this book. The story was good. The story was filled with bumps and twists and turns. The reader is caught of guard at the end wondering just who is behind all the violence. But I didn't connect and frankly I really didn't like the main character. I got annoyed with her constant turning everything that happened around her or circumstances to her own past misfortunes and failures. The past was always on her mind and seemed to be always brought into the present through her references. When she receives a phone call from her ex-husband informing her he was sending their teenage daughter to her my thought was ridiculous! Who in their right mind sends their daughter to their ex (who they already have issues concerning parenting with)who is on assignment out of town knowing that these assignments tend to lead to danger. And Gwen the main character just says o.k and goes and picks her up at the airport! This is after she has already had two attempts made on her life for investigating the towns recent murders and rape cases. The craziness continues after the daughters arrival and until the end. Which btw turns out o.k. for all. Personally I could have left all that drama out of the story and I think it would have been much better. Admittedly I have not read the 1st two installments in this series. And maybe if I had I would have liked the story and the main character better. Maybe I would have understood the reasoning. For more information about the authors other works and other books in this series visit her website I received a complimentary copy in exchange for my review
If you enjoy Cynthia Ruchti’s books, you’ll enjoy this thriller by Carrie Stuart Parks. Let me explain. One of the main reasons (out of several) that I consider Cynthia Ruchti one of my favorite authors is the voice she gives to her characters’ inner dialogue. It speaks my sense of humor and makes me laugh even when I’ve already gone through a pack and a half of tissues on a particular book. Carrie Stuart Parks gives that same kind of almost-snarky, very relatable voice to Gwen Marcey’s inner dialogue, and I love it! Gwen herself as a character is authentic and honest – she’s human. She gets angry at God. She gets angry at her ex-husband. She has a typical mother-daughter relationship with her teenager, and she has a best friend who is the perfect Ethel to her Lucy. (Or it might be the other way around.) She loves her dog. She loves her career but she’s struggling to make ends meet. She’s scared of spiders and other bugs. And she’s a cancer survivor who relates the effects of chemo and a double mastectomy with frankness and likability. She’s funny and sincere and really really smart and gutsy, and she’s exactly the type of character I would love to have as a friend. My. Goodness. Do not plan on sleeping while you’re reading When Death Draws Near – or perhaps for a bit after you’ve finished lol. All three of her books start out intense and really stay that way until the end, with brief lulls for research (which I usually find even more fascinating… because I’m geeky that way), but the scary sometimes sneaks up on you. Each Gwen Marcey book has spotlighted forensic artistry, something in which Parks clearly adds her own career expertise to the mix. I found this absolutely fascinating – particularly the psychological elements that are involved. I also love the focus of each book and how well Parks has handled potentially sensitive topics. In A Cry From The Dust, Gwen stumbles onto an extremist offshoot of the LDS. In The Bones Will Speak, she runs awry of a neo-Nazi group. And in When Death Draws Near, she finds herself in the middle of snake handlers. I think just the natural intensity that goes along with any of these groups automatically ratchets up the tension in the book itself, and this gives added depth to the suspense. And while Parks does zero in on the extremists, she really focuses more on the warped evil committing crimes in their name and doesn’t pass judgment on the religions from where they originated. In other words, your suspense novel will not be interrupted for a political speech lol. (Amen.) Gwen Marcey should be every criminal’s worst nightmare even though she typically wields a pencil and her brain instead of a gun. And Carrie Stuart Parks should be on every suspense-fan’s must-read list! High-intensity, edge-of-your-seat thrilling action and psychology. Compelling characters. Moments that make you laugh. Moments that make you look over your shoulder. Moments that make you wonder if it’s ok to pray for a fictional character. All of these elements combine into a fast-paced book that will grip you by the heart AND the mind and refuse to let go until you’ve reached the end. All three books in the series are fantastic, but this one may be my favorite. (I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)
When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks is the third A Gwen Marcey Novel. Gwen Marcey is a forensic artist and her latest job takes her to Pikeville, Kentucky. Gwen was hired to help with their serial rapist case. The latest victim, Shelby Lee, is in the hospital, and Gwen cannot speak with her until the next day. While she waits, Gwen helps Sheriff Clayton Reed by doing a sketch of a John Doe in their morgue (he needs identification). Unfortunately, Gwen does not get a chance to speak with the victim, Shelby Lee. She disappeared from the hospital overnight and has left town just like all the other victims and their families. What is going on? Gwen is staying at a local motel where she meets Ina Jo Cummings, who mans the front desk (and her baby). Gwen goes into the lobby one evening, and Ina Jo is not there, but the baby is and crying. Gwen contacts the police. Ina Jo is the latest victim of the Hillbilly Rapist (as the press of dubbed him). After Gwen is almost run over by car and then finds a rattler in bed, she moves to Campbell house. Arless Campbell is a state senator and the local buzz states he is getting ready to cast his hat in the ring for President. When they hear that Gwen connected with John Doe’s (Samuel Adkins) parents (Elijah and Ruby Adkins), Arless and Blanche see an opportunity for Gwen to help with another case. There is an underground church that uses snakes in their service (can you imagine)! They belong to Church of the Lord Jesus Christ with Signs Following. Arless had gotten legislature passed to make it illegal (the snakes). They feel that Gwen is their best chance for them to get someone on the inside. Gwen agrees but then she finds out that her daughter, Aynslee (15) is coming (ex-husband, Robert has an emergency with new wife’s family). Gwen and Aynslee goes to Samuel’s funeral and get invited to the church’s revival. Their adventure is just beginning. Join Gwen in When Death Draws Near. When Death Draws Near contains good writing and has a good pace. It was interesting to read about Gwen’s job as a forensic artist. This is the second book in the series, but it can easily be read alone (the author brings the reader up-to date). The mystery is very complex and full of surprises. The only annoying thing for me was Gwen’s self-doubt and questioning herself through other people’s eyes (she imagines what they will say). I took to skimming through those areas. I give When Death Draws Near 4 out of 5 stars (I liked it). I tried to summarize When Death Draws Near, but it is a complicated book. There is quite a bit going on in the novel. Be warned that snakes are mentioned in this book (with descriptions). I have to admit that I cannot stand snakes (they give me the creepies and nightmares). When Death Draws Near is a Christian mystery novel, but it is light on the Christian element. I will definitely be reading the next book in A Gwen Marcey Novel series. I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest evaluation of the novel. The comments and opinions expressed are strictly my own.
Don't trust anyone! Simply doing her job as a hired forensic artist, Gwen Marcey's life is at stake as numerous questionable incidents arise. Who can help her? The police force appears inadequate. Rapes continue, and the victims disappear. The suspect could be any number of people. Carrie Stuart Parks is a well accomplished forensic artist who knows how to compose a suspense-filled book as easily as she creates a composite of any number of people. The pace is fast and unpredictable, and her characters are deeply developed and true to form. A snake handling cult will curl your toes and send the hair on the back of your neck on end! You may want to read this book with all the lights on! This is the third book I've read by this artist, and I continue to be captivated by the powerful suspense and unpredictability of her writing. Detailing is outstanding! There is so much action in this story that you'll find it very difficult to put the book down. Everyone is suspect in this book, and there are a number of subplots woven into an impressive thriller. Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from LitFuse in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.
"When Death Draws Near" by author Carrie Stuart Parks is part of her series called A Gwen Marcey Mystery Novel. Gwen Marcey is a forensic artist. Because she does not have an assignment right now she starts work in a small town. Just her luck, now there is a serial rapist running around. She thinks that there are a lot unsolved deaths happening and the sheriff in the town does not believe he, that they are linked . Now her daughter is around to help her. But through all of this her breast cancer is back. She has to work fast so that she is not the next person who meets her death. I really liked this story and I like this character. It is full of suspense and mystery. I give this book a 5/5. I was given this book for a review by Litfuse Publicity Group and these are my opinions.
Following A Cry From The Dust & The Bones Will Speak, When Death Draws Near is book number three in A Gwen Marcey Novel collection. Easy to read as a stand alone, this was my first CSP novel. I would classify this novel as a suspense mystery although there is a minor thread of romance strung in there to make all the hearties happy. Having not read the previous Gwen Marcey novels, I was introduced to Forensic artist and main character, Gwen Marcey, immediately as unique character. Unlike most heroines owning the pages of mystery/suspense/romance novels-Gwen Marcey is not your typical twenty-to-thirty something who's kicking butts and taking names. No, instead you have a woman who's divorced with a rebellious teenage daughter and is facing a critical health crisis all while financially, spiritually, and physically struggling. However, Gwen Marcey isn't a flat character. Ms. Parks does a great job bringing out authentic emotion when the character is faced with a life changing phone call. There is a heavy religious element to this story due to the plotline and Ms. Parks offers plenty of research to further develop the plot twists but for me it just seemed to slow down the action of the story as I found myself skimming to get to the good parts. However, it didn't stop me from finishing the book in six hours! *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.