Mormon housewife Linda Wallheim grapples with her faith as she delves into underground polygamy in her third investigation (His Right Hand, 2015, etc.).
Linda and her husband, Kurt, are having marital troubles over the church’s treatment of same-sex marriage and what that means for their gay son. Compounding their challenges, another son, Kenneth, announces that he's left the church and will be marrying a fellow ex-Mormon, Naomi Carter. Naomi, though, wasn’t Mormon in the same way that Linda and Kurt are: she was raised in a polygamous family. When the Wallheims visit the Carter family compound to meet their prospective in-laws, they find Stephen Carter a charismatic manipulator and each of the five Carter wives unhappy in her own way. So it’s none too surprising, nor any great loss, when the patriarch is found stabbed with a kitchen knife. To keep the many children from foster care, Linda and Kenneth cooperate with first wife Rebecca to fake a death certificate and bury Stephen in the backyard. Searching for the killer, Linda uncovers the stories of the Carter wives and learns how they came to fall under Stephen’s sway. She’s rescued in the final hour by her husband, who finds the evidence that solves the case and literally saves her life. The muddled motivation for the murder doesn’t prevent Harrison from concluding with a happy family wedding.
Linda might make a comforting companion for devout Mormon women struggling with their leadership and history. Other readers, though, are likely to find the prose ham-fisted and didactic, the mystery unsatisfying, and the solution downright offensive.