Things have settled down so much for alcoholic lawyer Brigham Bybee since Brigham’s Day (2000) that he’s purchased an isolated motel that keeps him close to his ladylove, Zolene Swapp, while the job he’s been hired to do as Utah’s Special Assistant Attorney General—prosecute notorious polygamist T. Rampton Crowe, self-styled Father of the Faithful ensconced in nearby New Ammon—rumbles on toward a trial that will feature star witness Roma Ann McCallister, a.k.a. Crowe’s wife Faith, who ran away from New Ammon and is being hidden by the state from Crowe’s fearsome Blood Disciples. But Bybee’s peace is shattered when another of Crowe’s wives—the seductive Mercy, née Chenoya Whiting—turns up at his motel beaten, begging for shelter, and telling a wild story of how Crowe and the disciples gelded and beheaded Franklin Pugh, the man she was taken with in adultery. Now Cynthia Hassert, the embattled attorney general, and Tom Kendall, Bybee’s boss in the office of Special Prosecutions, see a chance to convict Crowe of aggravated murder. But the pitched political fight between the prosecutors who want to put their names on the map by executing Crowe, and the politicos determined to burnish the state’s image by prosecuting Crowe for polygamy and nothing more, is bound to have casualties like Bybee—that is, if Crowe’s minions don’t get him first.
A deceptively simple tale enriched by Gates’s equally sharp take on contemporary Mormon culture, down-and-dirty politics, and the eternally running battle between legal justice and the other kind.