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Jones, author of an anti-Mormon, overwrought historical novel (Sister Wives, 1983, p. 1142), now offers a contemporary murder-mystery--again a little too strident and feverish in its preoccupation with the lusts seething beneath Mormon repression. The murder victim is Bishop Manion, a super-strict Mormon leader found stabbed to death in the snow--near the home of Naomi Green of Planned Parenthood, a despised ""scarlet woman"" in the town of Magpie, Utah. The narrator-sleuth is police chief Christopher Danville--a lapsed Mormon, divorced from his devout wife, uneasy with his little Mormonized daughter, prone to moist introspection. (""I want back youth and innocence and the belief that all things are possible. . . . And, oh yes, I want back desire."") And at first the prime suspects are Manion's put-upon wife, his rebellious daughter, the daughter's guilt-ridden boyfriend. . . and gutsy Naomi Green, with whom Chief Danville becomes sexually entangled. But soon more complex webs of motivation begin to appear. Could the murder be connected to the secret, polygamous doings of a fundamentalist splinter-sect? Or to the disappearance of an upright Magpie man in Las Vegas, absconding with funds from a Mormon-owned casino? It could indeed--with a final revelation that's luridly melodramatic and not-quite-convincing. Less effective, then, than Gary Stewart's similar The Tenth Virgin (1983)--but rich in Mormon-lifestyle details and charged with the shrill intensity of an angry ex-Mormon author.

Pub Date: Dec. 27th, 1984
Publisher: St. Martin's