12 August 2015

Review: The Bones Will Speak by Carrie Stuart Parks

A killer with a penchant for torture has taken notice of forensic expert Gwen Marcey . . . and her daughter.

When Gwen Marcey’s dog comes home with a human skull and then leads her to a cabin in the woods near her Montana home, she realizes there’s a serial killer in her community. And when she finds a tortured young girl clinging to life on the cabin floor, she knows this killer is a lunatic.

Yet what unsettles Gwen most is that the victim looks uncannily like her daughter.

The search for the torturer leads back in time to a neo-Nazi bombing in Washington state—a bombing with only one connection to Montana: Gwen. The group has a race-not-grace model of salvation . . . and they’ve marked Gwen as a race traitor.

When it becomes clear that the killer has a score to settle, Gwen finds herself in a battle against time. She will have to use all of her forensic skills to find the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her—and the only family she has left.

2015 Reading Challenge: A Book that Scares Me

There are certain places around the world that simply aren’t safe. Top of the list in both TV-land and book-land is anywhere Miss Marple is visiting, because Miss Marple visiting a friend means someone is about to die. Other dangerous places in TV-land include most out-of-the-way villages in England (thanks, BBC), and Hawaii (we expect murders in LA, Miami and New York, but not in the paradise that is the Hawaiian islands). In book-land, we have the tiny English village where Drew Fathering lives, certain Amish communities (thanks, Vanetta Chapman), and that part of Utah where Carrie Stuart Parks has set her forensic thrillers: A Cry From the Dust, and now The Bones Will Speak.

As with any good thriller, there were several likely suspects (evildoers, as my daughter would say), plenty of red herrings, and that sense of impending doom for the characters that keeps me turning the pages in the vain hope that if I read fast enough, I’ll somehow be able to prevent whatever evil plan the villain has cooked up. That might sound delusional, but it’s indicative of the level of suspense the author has managed to achieve.

Gwen Marcy is a fascinating character. She’s a single mother of a rebellious teenage daughter (her husband divorced her while she was going through cancer treatments), and she’s trying to pull her life back together. She also has an interesting occupation: she’s a forensic artist, which means she takes skulls and reconstructs them to help identify the victim. It’s an interesting occupation and brings to mind Tim Downs and his forensic entomologist (an occupation Gwen could never have: she hates bugs). However, Gwen is a more well-adjusted character than Downs’s Bugman.

The one slightly odd thing about The Bones Will Speak is the way the story is told: it’s a combination of first person (Gwen’s point of view) and third person (the other characters). This is an unusual writing choice and it did jar me at first, but I forgot about it once I got into the story, partly because the story and characters were so compelling.

Overall, The Bones Will Speak was an excellent thriller, and while it’s not exactly a tourist advertisement for Utah, I’ll certainly be on the lookout for the next Gwen Marcy book.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

(This counts as a book that scares me because any book about a missing child is scary. Because it could really happen.)


  1. This sounds interesting, Iola. I might read this one.

    1. It's a lot more suspense than your books, Suzie (and no romance), but if good if you're looking for a change ...

    2. This mught surprise you, Iola, I absolutely love suspense.

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  3. Oooh, this sounds very interesting! I might have to check it out, too.

    Poor Drew! No matter where he goes, there's a sinister plot. ;)

    Julianna Deering (DeAnna Julie Dodson)

    1. Thanks for visiting, DeAnna! I'll be looking forward to the next Drew Fathering mystery.

  4. I am currently listening to the audiobook of her first novel, A Cry from The Dust. It is excellent. Looking forward to this one as well. Thanks for your review.