Carrie Stuart Parks' newest release, When Death Draws Near has my favorite thing, a really good mystery. It also has one of my least favorite things. Snakes. Thankfully the snakes are what make the story a bit more of an edge of your seat mystery.
When Death Draws Near is the third in the Gwen Marcey series. I have enjoyed each of them, not only because of the well thought out mystery, but because I have really enjoyed getting to know the characters that Carrie writes. Gwen herself is a very interesting character because of her back story.
Gwen is trying to get back on her feet after her husband left her when he found out she had breast cancer. Yup quite a low life. She also has an amazing 12 year old daughter, who has found her way into each of the mysteries. This of course does make them a bit more intense because of the mother angle.
In this story, Gwen finds herself in Tennessee trying to help find the Hillbilly rapist. He kidnaps, tortures, and then releases his victims. Each woman then quickly leaves without providing any help to the police. They have only one picture from a security camera, but they can't make out details.
When the case suddenly seems to close, Gwen believes she will be sent home in disgrace. Then one of the locals, who happens to be a state senator, hires her to help identify the people who belong to the illegal snake handling church. She just needs to infiltrate them, draw the faces and get out. What she finds instead of a bunch of crazies that she is told about is a group of caring, loving people, who she is drawn to because they are so accepting of her and her daughter. Who are the real criminals here?
The rest of the mystery you are going to have to find out for yourself. I like how Carrie is good at leading you down one path and yet laying the ground work for the correct answer to the puzzle. I will admit I did not figure this mystery out until Carrie and Gwen practically hit me over the head with a clue or two.
This has been a wonderful series to read. One of the most interesting aspect of the storylines has been Gwen dealing with her after cancer life. How everything hinges on her past treatment and how every time she goes to the doctor or has a health issue, the first thing question she asks herself is "is the cancer back?" It just adds so much to the series. Thank you Carrie for adding that to your books because it does remind us all what it is like to be a cancer survivor.