"A riveting and suspenseful mystery involving serial killings and much more danger!"
Reviewed by Audrey Lawrence
Posted January 12, 2016
Gwen Marcey couldn't help noticing how pretty the
hayfield meadow by the abandoned farm next to her place
in Copper Creek, Montana looked with its white daisies
and purple lupines in bloom. She had almost forgotten
she had painted a watercolour of that scene for an
art show nearly two years earlier. Then, reality hits
Gwen isn't here to admire the scenery but to find the
place where Winston, her Great Pyrenees dog, had
uncovered what looked to be a young woman's
skull. Checking by the creek, she finds human
remains partially wrapped in tattered plastic. Forcing
her training as a forensic artist to kick in, Gwen is
even more disturbed by Winston's latest find, and it is
fresh. Suddenly, things shift quickly. Is the killer
nearby? Why does the girl look so much like her teenage
daughter? Is she being targeted? Why?
THE BONES WILL SPEAK is one of the most exciting and page
turning mystery novels I have read this year, and that is
saying a lot! I can vouch that THE BONES WILL SPEAK is a
great stand alone mystery. It is the first novel I have
read by Carrie Stuart Parks, yet I definitely plan to
read more. I am positive existing fans of the first book in
Gwen Marcey series, A
CRY FROM THE DUST, will be thrilled with this subsequent
featuring Gwen as the feisty and determined protagonist.
In THE BONES WILL SPEAK, Gwen, a divorced, breast cancer
survivor, is struggling economically due to her divorce
and only getting part time contracts for work as a
forensic artist. Her fourteen-year-old daughter Aynslee
is being homeschooled. She is a great kid, but in a bit
of a rebellious phase which makes her a little
Parks's gift as an author certainly shine in her ability
to create authentic characters that spring to life as well
as being a very suspenseful storyteller who lets them
move the story along in such a riveting page turning
manner. Parks's own extensive background in fine arts,
forensic artistry, and law enforcement (not to mention her
own beloved Great Pyrenees dogs) brings in pertinent
details and information, which make THE BONES WILL SPEAK so
and engrossing. I particularly like how she
juxtaposed the hatred and bigotry coming from neo-Nazis,
white supremacist and Christian Identity gatherings and
their followers with the true kindness and caring support
from her own Christian friends and upbringing.
If you are looking for a great mystery, look no further
than this latest suspense thriller by Carrie Stuart Parks!
difficult whodunit to figure out. You will be
surprised! But truly... THE BONES WILL SPEAK!
A killer with a penchant for torture has taken notice
forensic expert Gwen Marcey . . . and her daughter.
When Gwen Marcey‚Äôs dog comes home with a human skull and
leads her to a cabin in the woods near her Montana home,
realizes there‚Äôs a serial killer in her community. And
finds a tortured young girl clinging to life on the cabin
she knows this killer is a lunatic.
Yet what unsettles Gwen most is that the victim looks
like her daughter.
The search for the torturer leads back in time to a neo-
bombing in Washington state‚ÄĒa bombing with only one
to Montana: Gwen. The group has a race-not-grace model of
salvation . . . and they‚Äôve marked Gwen as a race
When it becomes clear that the killer has a score to
Gwen finds herself in a battle against time. She will
use all of her forensic skills to find the killer before
carry out his threat to destroy her‚ÄĒand the only family
ExcerptApril 15, Five Years Later
I charged from the house and raced across the lawn,
frantically waving my arms. ‚ÄúStop digging! Winston, no!‚ÄĚ
Winston, my Great Pyrenees, paused in his vigorous burial
of some form of roadkill and raised a muddy nose in my
‚ÄúI mean it!‚ÄĚ Why hadn‚Äôt I bought one of those nice,
retriever-type dogs who mindlessly played fetch all day?
Winston spent his time wading in the creek, digging pool-
sized holes in the lawn, and?judging from the green
stain?applying eau de cow pie around his ear. I crept
He playfully raised his tail over his back and dodged
‚ÄúI‚Äôm warning you.‚ÄĚ I pointed a finger at him. Phthalo-
blue watercolor rimmed my nail, making my gesture less
threatening and more like I was growing a rare fungus.
Unfazed, he darted toward the line of flowering lilac
bushes lining the driveway, temporarily passing from
sight. How could a hundred-and-sixty-pound canine move so
fast? I circled in the other direction, slipping closer,
then carefully parted the branches. No dog.
This was ridiculous. I could chase my dog until I
retrieved the roadkill from his mouth, or scrub it off
the carpet for the next week. And it was getting dark,
with Prussian-blue shadows stretching between Montana‚Äôs
pine-covered Bitterroot Mountains.
I glanced to my left. Winston crouched, wagging his tail.
I moved toward him. He snatched his prize and shook it.
Two black hollows appeared.
I couldn‚Äôt move. The air rushed from my lungs and came
out in a long hiss. I patted my leg, urging the dog
Winston lifted the object, exposing a hole with radiating
Crouching, I extended my hand. ‚ÄúCome on, fellow. Good
doggie, over here.‚ÄĚ
He placed his find on the ground. It came to rest on its
even row of ivory teeth.
I approached gingerly, knelt on the soggy ground, and
inspected the sightless eye sockets. ‚ÄúOh, dear Lord.‚ÄĚ
Winston nudged the skull forward.
I yelped and sprawled on my rear. An overfed beetle
plopped out of the nasal aperture and landed on my
Heart racing like a runaway horse, I violently kicked the
offending bug, skidded backward, and stood. Fumbling my
cell phone from my jeans pocket, I punched in Dave‚Äôs
number. ‚ÄúLeave it to you, Winston, to find a skull full
‚ÄúRavalli County Sheriff‚Äôs Department, Sheriff Dave
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs dead. You‚Äôve got to come now, Dave!‚ÄĚ Winston pawed
at the skull like a volleyball.
‚ÄúStop that, Winston. You‚Äôre just going to make more bugs
fall out.‚ÄĚ I bumped the dog away with my leg.
‚ÄúWhat is it now, Gwen? You‚Äôre calling me because Winston
I rubbed my face. ‚ÄúOf course not. Don‚Äôt be silly. I
already told you she‚Äôs dead?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúQuestion one: Are you okay?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúGood, good. Now, question two: Where are you?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI‚Äôm home. Near home. The edge of the woods?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúDoggone it, Dave, don‚Äôt patronize me.‚ÄĚ I wanted to sling
the phone across the yard, then race over to the
sheriff‚Äôs office and kick Dave in the shin. ‚ÄúStop being
irritating and get over here.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúAh, yes. That brings me to question three. Who‚Äôs ‚Äėshe‚Äô?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúShe‚Äôs a skull. Or technically a cranium. Didn‚Äôt I say
that? She was murdered.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúMurdered? Are you sure she isn‚Äôt a lost hiker or
‚ÄúOh, for Pete‚Äôs sake, Dave. She‚Äôs got a neat bullet hole
in her forehead, and a not-so-neat exit wound shattering
the back.‚ÄĚ The dog reached a paw around my leg and
attempted to snag his plaything. I tapped it out of reach
with my shoe. I sincerely hoped no one was watching me
play a macabre version of skull soccer with my dog. I
already had a reputation for being eccentric.
‚ÄúAre you positive it‚Äôs female?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúJust look at it!‚ÄĚ I realized I was holding the phone
over the skull and quickly put the cell back to my ear.
‚ÄúI‚Äôm not a forensic anthropologist, but if I had to
guess, I‚Äôd say female. There‚Äôs a lack of development in
the supraorbital ridges, the zygomatic process is less
pronounced, there‚Äôs an absence of the external occipital
‚ÄúDon‚Äôt interrupt. She has signs of animal activity?
chewing?and is missing the lower jaw. Hence she‚Äôs a
cranium, not a skull, but her teeth are in good shape in
the maxilla. That‚Äôs the upper jaw.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI know what that is. You‚Äôre a forensic artist. Since
when has a skull spooked you?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not the skull, it‚Äôs the bugs.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúYeah, yeah, you and your insect phobia. I think you‚Äôre
just out of practice with the real thing. You‚Äôve been
doing too much work on plaster castings.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI don‚Äôt even want to think about plaster castings.‚ÄĚ It
was only eight months since my work in Utah and I still
‚ÄúSpeaking of that case, didn‚Äôt you find some body parts
on your property in that case too? Are you turning into
Montana‚Äôs version of the body farm?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúVery funny.‚ÄĚ Leave it to Dave to know how to
simultaneously calm me down and irritate me beyond
belief. He treated me like a kid sister, which, in a
sense, I was. His family took me in when I was fourteen.
‚ÄúI will concede that I haven‚Äôt reconstructed a skull from
a homicide case for a while.‚ÄĚ I smoothed my paint-stained
denim shirt. ‚ÄúBut in the past, they‚Äôve always arrived
cleaned. In a neatly labeled evidence pouch. All the
slithery things inside them boiled away.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúYou‚Äôre getting mighty prissy about receiving evidence.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHa. Do you have any missing-persons reports?‚ÄĚ I took a
deep breath, then scratched my dog behind the ear. I
stopped and looked at my hand. Fresh, cow-pie green.
Great. I wiped the poo on the grass.
‚ÄúOne came in less than an hour ago from the Missoula
Police Department. Possible abduction this morning of a
fourteen-year-old girl, name of Mattie Banks.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIf she was abducted this morning, she‚Äôd hardly be down
to bone by evening . . . unless someone boiled her head .
‚ÄúYou have a sick mind.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúSo you like to point out.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúI‚Äôll check missing persons, also give a call to the
state guys, see how fast they can get here. We‚Äôre really
shorthanded. I got two officers on sick leave, but I‚Äôll
be over within the hour.‚ÄĚ
I gazed at the vast Bitterroot wilderness stretching past
my yard. Churning indigo clouds now blotted out the
setting sun. April weather could change in a second in
‚ÄúOn second thought, don‚Äôt come over tonight. A storm‚Äôs
about to break.‚ÄĚ I thought for a moment. ‚ÄúUnless you want
to call in half the law enforcement in Montana, the
National Guard, and every Explorer Scout in the West, I
need to see if I can narrow down the possible perimeter
for this homicide. Pyrs can retrieve roadkill or tasty
dead critters from about a five-mile radius. That gives
us a lot of back country to search.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúThen we‚Äôll get Winston to take us to her body.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúHa! Forget the ‚Äėwe.‚Äô If you show up, Winston will just
want you to pet him. Let me see what I can do with the
Winston wagged his tail.
‚ÄúYou‚Äôve undoubtedly compromised everything to boot,
A splash of rain struck my arm, and I glanced up. The
wind brushed through the pines, creating a sibilant
murmur. ‚ÄúI‚Äôll get my noble hound to track tomorrow. I‚Äôll
I dropped the phone into my pocket. ‚ÄúCome on, Winston.
I‚Äôm not leaving you alone with your prize. Heel.‚ÄĚ We
crossed the yard to the house. ‚ÄúSit. Now, stay. I‚Äôm not
handling that thing with my bare hands, even dung-
covered.‚ÄĚ I stepped into the kitchen, scrubbed up,
grabbed a pair of latex gloves and a large paper grocery
bag, then went outside. After placing the skull in the
bag, I folded the top closed and carried it to my studio.
Winston trailed behind.
I set the package on my drafting table. A host of
nightmarish insects were in there. What if they got out?
I rubbed my arms to make the little hairs lie down, then
fastened a continuous line of staples across the top and
applied two-inch tape over the staples.
I jumped and dropped the tape.
Aynslee, my fourteen-year-old daughter, stood at the
door. ‚ÄúYou got a phone call. Some attorney or something
from Spokane. He said you‚Äôre getting a subpoena on an old
‚ÄúDid he say what case?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúSomething about a priest. When‚Äôs dinner?‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúDinner? Is it that late?‚ÄĚ I glanced at my watch. ‚ÄúTurn
on the oven. We‚Äôll have pizza tonight. Special treat.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúIt‚Äôs not special if we have it every night,‚ÄĚ Aynslee
muttered as she left the room.
‚ÄúWe didn‚Äôt have it last night,‚ÄĚ I called after her.
‚ÄúYes, we did. Pepperoni. And two nights ago we had
sausage and extra cheese.‚ÄĚ
You‚Äôd think the child would be grateful I wasn‚Äôt cooking.
Tuna noodle casserole with potato-chip topping was the
extent of my culinary skills. A blast of rain struck the
windows, pelting it like tiny marbles, and a deep
rumbling shook the glass. Winston raised his head from
his bed in the corner.
‚ÄúDon‚Äôt worry, ole boy. It‚Äôs just thunder.‚ÄĚ I cupped my
hands against the window to block out the room‚Äôs light
and watched the storm gather momentum, then turned and
stared at the paper sack. ‚ÄúHow long have you waited,‚ÄĚ I
whispered, ‚Äúfor someone to find you?‚ÄĚ
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