Friday, August 5, 2016

When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Death has always been part of Gwen Marcey’s job. But when faced with her own mortality, everything takes on a different hue.

Forensic artist Gwen Marcey takes a temporary case in Pikeville, KY to attempt to draw a serial rapist. However, as soon as she arrives on the scene she finds that no one wants her there and that this latest victim has mysteriously left town just like all the others. Instead, the sheriff grudgingly takes her help in sketching an unidentified body that had been killed by a rattler. What she discovers is that this the latest in many snake deaths and that they all seem to be related to a Pentecostal serpent handling church. Since serpent handling is illegal in Kentucky, this church has gone underground, and the city's leading politician gives Gwen a hefty reward to go undercover and find out who is behind the church and these deaths. What Gwen quickly discovers is that multiple persons seem to be trying to kill her and that there might be more to both the serial rapist and the serpent related deaths than she thought. As the death count rises and as her teenage daughter joins her, Gwen is in a race against time to save both herself and her daughter from the unknown evil threatening to take over Pikeville. 

When Death Draws Near is suspenseful and well written novel that is brimming with mystery, danger, and even a little romance. This a Gwen Marcey novel, but it can be read as a standalone novel. I thought the plot line was interesting and contained enough twists and unexpected developments to keep me glued to the pages. I liked how there were multiple people what could have been behind the disappearances and deaths and that the reader was left in the dark with only slight glimpses until the very end. I also thought the author's take on the Pentecostal church was interesting and thought provoking, even though I did not agree with the church's literal interpretation of parts of the Bible. I also thought that while God and Jesus were mentioned, it was often from an extremist point of view or when Gwen was trying to bargain with God instead of a more biblical representation. I think that Gwen's end turning point to God should have been more about redemption and less about trying to bargain her way out of a struggle. However, in the end, Gwen did seem to turn to God less for what He could do for her and more because of who He is. 

I thought the characters, particularly Gwen, were interesting and fairly well developed. Most of the characters remained fairly flat with little development, only secrets. However, Gwen was a more rounded character who did experience growth during the story. I thought the other minor characters added to the suspense of the story if not necessarily to its depth. The little romantic aspect of the story was intriguing, but seemed a little contrived and forced due to the speed of its development. However, at the end of the story it slowed down and looked to be an interesting development for future Gwen Marcey novels. Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and its plot line was both suspenseful and thought provoking. 

I received this novel from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest review. 

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