A Cry from the Dust (Gwen Marcey #1)
by Carrie Stuart Parks
A secret from a grim page of American history threatens to destroy thousands of lives.
Gwen Marcey was tops in her forensic field. Then cancer struck, her husband left, and her teenage daughter engaged in active rebellion. Gwen’s best chance to start a new life was a temporary job in Utah reconstructing faces from an 1857 massacre site.
The Mountain Meadows Interpretative Center asked Gwen to reconstruct the faces of three intact bodies that were discovered from the wagon train massacre of more than 120 people by Mormon fanatics calling themselves Avenging Angels. But just as she is nearing completion on her reconstructions, things around the center turn deadly.
Gwen discovers the ritualized murder of a young college student with a stolen identity and is called on by the local police to use her forensic art skills to aid the investigation. Soon she discovers an uncanny resemblance between one of her reconstructions and the death mask of Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon church. And realizes that she’s the next target of the recreated Avenging Angels who believe she has an icon from the grave.
Gwen must weave through a labyrinth of Mormon history, discovering secret societies and festering grudges in a race against time.
Will she be able to stop another massacre?
4 of 5 Stars
I was first pulled to read some of this author because she was mentored by Frank Peretti who happens to be one of my favorite authors. That combined with an interesting premise had me very curious. It took me a little while to get completely into this book as I had trouble connecting with Gwen at first. As the plot progressed and more information is revealed about both her current situation as well as her recent struggles, the more I began to like her. She’s a very strong female character that stands up for herself repeatedly, no matter what.
I was also really pleased that this really was a thriller and filled with suspense for me. I didn’t see all of the twists coming and was shocked by quite a few of the ways the story played out. It was incredible to see how well the faith aspects of this book were portrayed as well. In the story, it’s very clear how extremist religion is far different than ordinary faith. I especially enjoyed this when the focus was on the Mormon faith. Too often with Christian literature, I find that the story sways too far in either a positive or negative direction. For me, this book was really well balanced in this regard and wasn’t heavy on anything spiritual while also not avoiding it. Even if you aren’t Christian or don’t usually enjoy religious fiction, you can still enjoy this story.
My only sort of gripe in the book dealt with Gwen’s daughter. I’ll readily admit this might be due to how much young adult fiction I read where younger teens often act much older than their actual age. Something about her behavior and some of her choices didn’t always make sense to me. It also didn’t make a lot of sense that no one, including Gwen, noticed what she was really struggling with along the way.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am looking forward to reading more in the series. I do suspect that these are books that can easily be read individually rather than having to commit to several books. This book in particular wrapped up well and left no real loose ends beyond the continued adventures of Gwen.