In Copper Creek, Montana, Gwen Marcey is struggling to put together her life after cancer and divorce. When her dog retrieves a skull of a murder victim and leads her to the victim’s grave, Gwen uses her forensic art ability to identify a serial killer. She is horrified to discover all the victims look like her fourteen-year-old daughter.
The murderer is a “lone wolf,” a member of the terrorist group Phineas Priesthood-and he has a score to settle with Gwen. Unraveling the tangled Christian Identity movement, where race-not grace-provides salvation, Gwen is in a frantic rush against time. She must use all her skills to uncover the killer before he can carry out his threat to destroy her and everyone she loves.
Book two in the Gwen Marcey series, I started with the book not realizing it was part of a series. The first book received an award and great reviews, so I was excited to read this; however, I found it very hard to get into. I struggled through the first eleven chapters before skimming the rest to find out what happened. Here’s why I couldn’t get into the book.
For starters, the main character is incredibly negative and whiny. She’s a breast cancer survivor whose husband left her, though her daughter still lives with her. She lost her job during treatment (though she was only freelancing, so it wasn’t like she was fired), so she’s trying to earn a living. For eleven chapters she finds the negative in all of this – constantly. I’m not a cancer survivor, but my husband is. There were definitely times when he was depressed and struggling, but he’s also so thankful to alive and healing and able to work. I don’t mean to belittle anyone’s cancer struggles, survival, or recovery, but in a novel I want to relate to and have a reason to like the main character. I wasn’t able to do that with Gwen because it seemed like nothing was good enough for her. It go to the point when I just wanted to find out what happened so I didn’t have to see Gwen complain about everything.
I appreciate the author’s desire to make forensic sciences more realistic, but the story drags on. As I said, I read for eleven chapters before skimming – it took eleven chapters to find and process a crime scene. I think some of those details could have been summarized for the sake of keeping the plot moving.
It was also odd that the characters sounded so similar – flowery and/or technical language. Gwen sees the world in colors that I had to look up to understand (umber, not brown). Her friend Beth uses 3-4 syllable words as often as possible. Even the 14 year-old hooker in the hospital notices the “sunlight caressing the Venetian blinds”, though the girl is barely literate. It seemed more like the author’s worldview coming through than the characters.
If you don’t mind those things, the book should be a good read, but I had to force my way through it. I think the story concept was incredibly unique and intriguing, just hard to read.
*I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest opinion.