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A Cry from the Dust

By Carrie Stuart Parks


In the shadow of the Mormon church, a 19th-century conspiracy is about to be shattered by a 21st-century forensic artist. In 1857, a wagon train in Utah was assaulted by a group of militant Mormons calling themselves the Avenging Angels. One hundred and forty people were murdered, including unarmed men, women, and children. The Mountain Meadows Massacre remains controversial to this day—but the truth may be written on the skulls of the victims. When renowned forensic artist Gwen Marcey is recruited to reconstruct the faces of recently unearthed victims at Mountain Meadows, she isn’t expecting more than an interesting gig . . . and a break from her own hectic life. But when Gwen stumbles on the ritualized murder of a young college student, her work on the massacre takes on a terrifying new aspect, and research quickly becomes a race against modern-day fundamentalist terror. As evidence of a cover-up mounts—a cover-up spanning the entire history of the Mormon church—Gwen finds herself in the crosshairs of a secret society bent on fulfilling prophecy and revenging old wrongs. Can a forensic artist reconstruct two centuries of suppressed history . . . before it repeats itself? In A Cry from the Dust, Carrie Stuart Parks utilizes her own background as a celebrated, FBI-trained forensic artist to blend fact and fiction into a stunning mystery. “Parks’ fast-paced and suspenseful debut novel is an entertaining addition to the inspirational genre. Her writing is polished, and the research behind the novel brings credibility to the story . . . An excellent book that is sure to put Carrie Stuart Parks on readers’ radar.” —RT Book Reviews, 4 stars

Book Takeaway:

The reader should have a feeling of satisfaction, that even through the darkest days, God has a plan for our lives. We may not know it at the time, but someday we will. In the meantime: all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to [his] purpose.

Why the author wrote this book:

As a forensic artist, breast-cancer survivor, and Great Pyrenees owner, I wrote of what I knew, but I couldn’t say exactly what started the Mormon slant of the story. Possibly an article on the Internet about a Le Fort fracture found on Joseph Smith’s skull. His skull? That led me to an obscure book written by the granddaughter of Hands, the man who dug up the bodies buried in Nauvoo. I’d been thinking about drawing his face from the skull, but the illustrations in the book showed too little information to work with, but it got my mind working.
With the only known documented image of Joseph Smith being a profile drawing and the death mask, I followed up on their origins. My research got more and more interesting.
A vague idea took shape. I had visited the Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana. An interpretive center was built on the site with reconstructions of some of the men’s skulls on display. Mountain Meadows, a very real place and a very real event, had little to show of the massacre. There had been three settlers formally buried on the location. What if . . . what if a forensic artist reconstructed those long-dead faces? And what if Joseph Smith was one of the faces reconstructed?


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