Review: Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

The setting and description of this book sounded original and different which was why I decided to review this one. I loved that this book was set in Alaska and had this obscure WWII reference.

It seemed like an untapped resource and caught my eye as soon as I read the description. All I kept thinking was what in the world is a WWII Quonset hut? I felt like I needed to read this book just to find that out!

When her twin sister was murdered, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak 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 may be back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The memory that Murphy was asked to draw was from an Alaskan hunter who discovered five bodies on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago, but has only shared the information with the police now that he’s dying of cancer. When they go to the island to investigate, no skeletons remain but there is evidence that the bodies may have been deliberately destroyed. But the big discovery is of a World War II Quonset hut.

As one by one the people who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much deeper at stake. What happened there during WWII? And who is willing to kill to keep those secrets buried? (summary from Goodreads).

While the WWII aspect of this book drew me in, it isn’t fully the focus of the story which was actually fine by me. It’s the catalyst for the narrative and the driving secret but the focus is more on why are people dying now. I liked how this story merged the two stories together and also incorporated Murphy’s sister’s murder. It all came full circle nicely.

I did learn a lot about WWII and how Alaska was effected during that time. It’s a region that is often forgotten and left out of more popular WWII stories so I loved how the author capitalized on that and took the opportunity to educate readers on this interesting period in history.

For me Murphy was just ok as the main character. I didn’t love her in the way that I had hoped and I am just not sure why but for some reason I just felt like I lacked a connection with her. I liked her job (forensic artist) but that was about it. She just wasn’t for me. The story itself was suspenseful and there were a lot of things going on that had to come together.

While the author did a good job at wrapping things up, I personally felt like there were a few too many things happening in the story that at times it became distracting. I mean there is a serial killer, the Nazis, biological weapons….there is just a lot happening in the plot and while she did a decent job weaving everything together, as a reader I sometimes got overwhelmed.

This is a new author to me, though she has written a number of other books and series, this one is a stand alone. I was happy to read this as fall kicked off because the setting really got me in the mood for fall. Also her experience with writing is evident in this book. She clearly knows how to spin a tale and write mysteries. She knows just how to hook her audience in and keep them reading. Practice makes perfect and Stuart Parks did a standout job hooking me into the book. However, I just couldn’t connect with the main character and because of that I had to go with a 3.5 star review. The book itself was compelling and interesting with a steady flow of clues to keep me reading, but without a connection to Murphy, I just didn’t enjoy the book to the degree that I had hoped. That’s not to say it was ‘bad’, in fact I thought it was good just not a 5 star for me.

Challenge/Book Summary:

Book: Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

  • Kindle Edition, 320 pages
    Published July 3rd 2018 by Thomas Nelson (first published July 2018)
  • Review copy provided by: Publisher/Author in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
  • Recommendation: 3.5 out of 5
  • Genre: mystery, suspense
  • Memorable lines/quotes: 

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