By Kelly Bridgewater
What would it be like to have one of the premier founding authors of Christian thrillers to read your manuscript and held mentor you into publication?
That is exactly what Carrie Stuart Parks did. According to the introduction to her debut suspense novel, A Cry from the Dust, Frank Peretti reviewed her early manuscript and helped make it publishable. Peretti had never done that for anyone before; at least that was what he said in his opening.
A Cry from the Dust is a story relying on Mormon history, especially with the death of Joseph Smith, the founder and prophet of the Mormon faith. The heroine of the story is Gwen Marcy, a cancer survivor and recently divorced forensic scientist who draws and sculpts the images of victims from their skeletons or their corpses.
In the beginning of the story, Gwen is working on reconstructing three heads from the skeletons of their bodies, which were found at the evident site of the Mountain Massacre. If you don’t know much about Mormon tradition, which I didn’t until I read the book, the Massacre occurred at the hands of the Mormons who killed off a crowd of innocent immigrants on their way to California.
My favorite part of the book was that Carrie Stuart Parks actually has a background as a forensic artist, which made all the technical ideas that Gwen does realistic. It helped the authenticity of the plot line. When Gwen was molding or drawing the face of the killer, I trusted Parks words and the actions because she actually does what Gwen does for a living.
As the story progress, Gwen is hunted by what she is led to believe as the Avenging Angels of the Mormon faith. Wanting to protect her teenage daughter and her best friend, Beth, she sends them to a peace convention outside of Seattle, Washington after she constructs a clay image of Joseph Smith head.
The character of Gwen was realistic and interesting. She worried about her family while struggling with the effects of cancer on her life, her rebellious teenage daughter, and her ex-husband who wanted a younger woman. Gwen had a lot on her plate, but she kept her focus on solving the mystery, even though there were moments where her life wanted to go array. Parks allowed the readers to empathize with Gwen. We all struggle with a lot of different things like soccer practice, boy scouts, chess club, church, aging parents, writing while trying to keep our heads above water. We understood Gwen completely.
The story has many twists and turns to come to its unforeseeable conclusion. I liked how Parks created the bad guy to be someone who most readers wouldn’t have suspected. The story features kidnapping, teenage pregnancies, and murder while trying to solve a mystery of the murder victims.
Parks does a good job at wrapping the fictional story around the items of historical significance. I learned a lot about the Mormon faith then I probably would have if I read the Mormon’s sacred text written from Joseph Smith. As an outsider, the readers will learn and observe more of the inside world of the Mormons.
I truly enjoyed the story, especially learning about a culture that I know a couple of friends belong to. I’m curious to see what is in store for readers for the next time Carrie Stuart Parks creates her next historical suspense, if I’m aloud to call it that.
Have you read this book yet? If so, what was your favorite part about the book?