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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Bishop's Wife...Review

About the book:
In the predominantly Mormon city of Draper, Utah, some seemingly perfect families have deadly secrets.

Inspired by an actual crime and written by a practicing Mormon, The Bishop’s Wife is both a fascinating look at the lives of modern Mormons as well as a grim and cunningly twisted mystery.

Linda Wallheim is the mother of five grown boys and the wife of a Mormon bishop. As bishop, Kurt Wallheim is the ward’s designated spiritual father, and that makes Linda the ward’s unofficial mother, and her days are filled with comfort visits, community service, and informal counseling.

But Linda is increasingly troubled by the church’s patriarchal structure and secrecy, especially as a disturbing situation takes shape in the ward. One cold winter morning, a neighbor, Jared Helm, appears on the Wallheims’ doorstep with his 5-year-old daughter, claiming that his wife, Carrie, disappeared in the middle of the night, leaving behind everything she owns. The circumstances surrounding Carrie’s disappearance become more suspicious the more Linda learns about them, and she becomes convinced that Jared has murdered his wife and painted himself as an abandoned husband.

Kurt asks Linda not to get involved in the unfolding family saga, but she has become obsessed with Carrie’s fate, and with the well-being of her vulnerable young daughter. She cannot let the matter rest until she finds out the truth. Is she wrong to go against her husband, the bishop, when her inner convictions are so strong?

In a Mormon ward or congregation, the Bishop is similar to a pastor or a minister.  His role is to oversee the spiritual and temporal needs of the people within the ward.  His position is voluntary and unpaid and usually lasts for a period of about 5 years. As the Bishop's wife, Linda is in a position to know who might need some extra attention or a listening ear. She's not afraid to ask questions.  And as more and more information comes to light about Jared and Carrie, Linda finds herself more involved that she ever imagined.

This is light suspense and light Christian.  The main character is a nice, normal woman who cares about her neighbors and those in her LDS ward.  She reaches out and she tries to serve others.  Like the rest of us, she's not perfect.  She sometimes has doubts and asks questions, she is concerned about her children, she has her own grief and she worries about the little girl who lives across the street and whose mother is missing.

I liked Linda. I loved her relationship with her husband.  I appreciated that she had a strong testimony of her faith, but she didn't have every answer to every question.  Her efforts to find out what happened to Carrie were curious. I hated the men in Carrie's life, but as answers came out, it was easy to see why things happened the way they did. The mystery aspect wasn't as completely predictable as I had anticipated, although it wasn't as tight as I think it could have been.

I guess the best way to describe this book is that it's not a Mormon book, it's a suspense novel set among Mormons.  The book is directed at a mainstream audience and so in the first person narrative, Linda gives some explanations about different aspects of the LDS faith, which is good.  I did think that her explanations were a bit inconsistent; some things were explained, some things weren't.  But, having said that, I think it gives the reader a good glimpse inside a normal, Mormon life although I'm sure that isn't the intent of the novel.

Thanks to Netgalley and Soho Press for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Mette Ivie Harrison here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 8/14

* * *
3/5 Stars


  1. I'm looking forward to this book.

  2. This one does sound interesting. I've read a few novels that were based on the LDS and Mormons, and I enjoyed those.

  3. This sounds interesting. I like mysteries and this would be a different and new setting!