Formula of Deception (Carrie Stuart Parks) – Review

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This review is part of TLC’s Book Tour for Formula of Deception.

~ About the Book ~

An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

Genre:  Suspense
Release date:  3 July 2018
Pages:  320
Publisher:  Thomas Nelson

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  iTunes  //  Goodreads  //  Koorong

~ Excerpt ~

Detective Olsson started the engine and pulled away from Vasily’s tiny home.
“Ruuwaq Island was what he called it, but that’s not the official name. I called up all the pilots I knew and described the island. Butch Patterson, a retired trooper with Alaska Wildlife, finally came up with a possibility. I had him fly over the island yesterday to see if he could spot anything. He said the rockslide was there, but nothing else, at least that he could see from the air. He suggested I have Jake Swayne, his replacement, take Bertie, the crime-scene tech, out there tomorrow morning.”
“Roberta Fisher, from Anchorage. State crime lab.” She pulled out onto the street. “I told Bertie you were doing our sketches. She, ah, she’s asked if you’d go with her.”
“She said she needed help. I offered a couple of deputies, but none of them can even write their name legibly, let alone diagram a scene. I assume you’ve done crime-scene diagramming before.”
“Of course.” Murphy felt herself skidding down that slippery slope of lies.
Detective Olsson turned toward Murphy’s apartment. The sun was well up in the cloudless sky in spite of the early hour.
“I suppose a boat ride—”
“Not boat. Floatplane.”
“You’re not afraid of flying in a small plane, are you?”
“I don’t think so. I see them every day taking off and landing, but I’ve never flown in one.” She thought for a moment. “Back to Ruuwaq, how did the men get on the island in the first place? Vasily didn’t mention seeing a boat.”
“Good question.” They soon pulled up in front of Murphy’s place. “Call me when you finish those drawing.” The detective handed her a business card. “You can drop them off at the station, or I’ll send someone to pick them up.”
“I don’t have a car, Detective, so sending someone would be a good idea.”
“Call me Elin. How do you get around?”
“Bicycle.” Murphy grabbed her art bag, stepped from the car, and closed the door.
Elin rolled down the passenger window. “I suppose that makes life simple. No car payment, no insurance, no maintenance.” She waved and drove away.
“Yeah,” Murphy muttered, “and no way anyone can find me.”

Taken from “Formula of Deception” by Carrie Stuart Parks
Copyright © 2018 by Carrie Stuart Parks
Used by permission of

~ Review ~

Whoa! Just give me a minute here while my head stops spinning! This story will certainly keep you on your toes, but I think I lost my balance right at the end as all the revelations and reversals kept piling up—some of which were more believable than others.

But let me start at the beginning. I love Carrie Stuart Parks’ characterisation, and this book was no exception. She invests each of her characters, no matter how important, with a unique personality—and in several cases, a helping of dry humour (always a win for me). I was particularly intrigued by Murphy’s character, as it became clear as the story went on that there were some psychological elements in play. I wasn’t quite sure how that was going to pan out, but her mental conversations with her dead sister were just one clue that there was something going on.

The plot moved at a crisp pace and provided plenty of danger and suspense (and an increasing body count!), but I found myself sceptical of some of the conclusions Murphy was able to draw at different points in the story. Sometimes they felt just a little too convenient, or as though the evidence she had wasn’t strong enough to justify the connections she was making. And by the end, the circumstances she uncovered were almost too convoluted for me to get my head around. I think if I went back and read it again I would probably be able to make better sense of it. In fact, maybe I should have done that at the time. If someone had been telling me the story, I would have made them stop and repeat a number of things just to make sure I had it all straight! But it was one of those stories where the idea of stopping to take stock doesn’t occur to you, because you’re too busy gorging yourself on all the revelations!

There were two somewhat disappointing elements, however. First, we get teased with the prospect of a romantic interest, but we hardly see him. Yes, I’m pouting. If you’re going to dangle that carrot, at least let us grab a few bites. On second thoughts, perhaps that wasn’t the best metaphor… 😂

The other thing was the resolution of the plot surrounding the sister’s killer. I’m going to have to be REALLY careful not to let spoilers slip here, but it felt a bit far-fetched to me. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I felt a little duped. Maybe a bit of both. That’s probably all I can say without revealing too much.

With all that said, the story certainly kept my attention, so if that’s what you’re after, go for it!

I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

~ About the Author ~

Carrie Stuart ParksCarrie Stuart Parks is an award winning artist, writer, speaker, and law enforcement instructor. A Certified Forensic Artist, she met her husband, Rick, in the romantic hallways of the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. Together they formed a dynamic and successful team in their fine and forensic art, working on major national and international cases and creating exquisite watercolors and stone carvings. They travel internationally, teaching forensic art to a variety of participants: from the Secret Service to the FBI, from large law enforcement agencies to the smallest two-man departments in their one-week classes. They are the largest instructors of forensic art in the world. Carrie has won numerous awards for her innovative teaching methods and general career excellence and is a signature member of the Idaho Watercolor Society.

Carrie’s Gwen Marcey series chronicles a forensic artist from Montana and is loosely based on Carrie’s forensic cases. She began her fiction writing career while battling breast cancer. Mentored by NY Times bestselling author, Frank Peretti, Carrie’s debut novel, along with her subsequent novels, have been met with critical acclaim.

Connect with Carrie:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Instagram

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, New Releases, Suspense Fiction and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Formula of Deception (Carrie Stuart Parks) – Review

  1. Amanda Geaney says:

    Agreed. This book was just weird.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Carrie Stuart Parks, author of FORMULA OF DECEPTION, on tour August/September 2018 | TLC Book Tours

  3. Thanks for being a part of the tour.


  4. Policeartist says:

    thank you for your review and blessings! I’m working on that romantic thread. I tend to jus kill everybody… 🙂
    -Carrie Stuart Parks

    Liked by 1 person

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