A Missing Child Inspires Gwen to Revisit The Girl She Was...and What Really Happened to Her
Reviewed in the United States on 19 August 2017
Gwen Marcey finally has a steady job as a forensic artist with the Interagency Major Crimes Unit (IMCU). She was slated to go to Alaska for her next case, but when a missing child case pops up in Lapwai, Idaho, Gwen knows she must investigate. The case of little Beatrice Sinopa is far too similar to what happened to Gwen in her own childhood, and she hopes working it will help her answer some lingering questions. As always, murder and mayhem aren't far behind, but this time the stakes are far from just physical. If Gwen can uncover the truth, she may be better equipped to handle mental, emotional, and spiritual issues plaguing her--if she lives to uncover anything, that is.
Portrait of Vengeance is probably the deepest of Carrie Stuart Parks' Gwen Marcey books. It delves not only into Gwen's mysterious childhood, but who she was then, who she's become, and who she will be. After learning everything about her early life was a lie, Gwen reacts the way most people would. But she never loses her tenacity, intelligence, or focus. Despite the fact that nearly everyone doubts her, she knows she's connected to Beatrice somehow. As usual, she utilizes great physical and mental strength to get the job done, making her exploits both engaging and cheer-worthy. Gwen has grown considerably since her first book, and it's apparent here.
As always, Carrie does a wonderful job with setting, plot, and pacing. Lapwai felt real to me even though I've never been there. It's also delightfully different from Kentucky, Utah, or any of the other places I've followed Gwen on her adventures. The Nez Perce culture comes to life; in fact, I wanted to see much more of it. The plot is packed with the suspense and twists I've come to enjoy from this author, but gave me enough breathers to truly enjoy the character development and introspection. As always, you never know who Gwen can and cannot trust, and you're always guessing not only whodunit, but why.
As noted, I wanted to see more of some elements--the Nez Perce culture, the missing children, and Gwen's spiritual growth being my top three. I also felt the end was a little too neat, and that some pieces just dropped off the face of the earth (Blake, anyone)? I wanted to see Gwen truly get inside the criminal's head, as she did in The Bones Will Speak. However, maybe Carrie is planning a fifth book that will do that, and answer some questions about how Gwen comes to closure, who if anyone she ends up with, etc. In the meantime, I definitely recommend reading this adventure.
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