A Montana forensic artist is targeted by a serial killer.
Recovering from her battle with breast cancer and adjusting to her divorce from a husband who left when he found her new self less than perfect, Gwen Marcey must struggle to find a job that will support her and her daughter, Aynslee, after she’s laid off by a belt-tightening Ravalli County. Both an opportunity and a curse arrive in the form of a skull dug up by her dog, Winston. After notifying her friend Sheriff Dave Moore, Gwen backtracks with Winston and finds a badly injured girl in an abandoned farmhouse; she's Mattie Banks, who’d been kidnapped in Missoula. Before the sheriff even arrives, the killer comes back for Mattie and winds up hitting Winston with his car; when he leaves, he calls the police to report that a dog had attacked the girl, nearly getting Winston shot by an overeager deputy. Even though Gwen finds the bones of several other victims, a jealous forensic artist who works for the Missoula police manages to get both Dave and Gwen thrown off the case. But Gwen, shocked by Mattie’s resemblance to Aynslee, keeps investigating on her own. Good thing, too, since the sheriff has his hands full with a white supremacist group whose church plans a parade to honor Hitler’s birthday. Gwen soon realizes that the serial killer is linked to one of her past cases, in which several white supremacists were killed before executing their plans. The young girls and Gwen play a desperate cat-and-mouse game with an enemy whose goal is to kill them all.
Gwen’s second case (A Cry from the Dust, 2014) uses Parks’ own life experiences to create a fast-moving thriller rife with tension.