THE 4 O'CLOCK MURDERS

THE TRUE STORY OF A MORMON FAMILY'S VENGEANCE

Incredible but true tale of a renegade Mormon family and its bloody criminal empire. The murders—four killings at three different Texas locations on June 27, 1988—are but the latest in a demented tale that, according to free-lancer Anderson (The Nation, The Boston Globe, etc.), goes back three generations and more. The saga began in the early years of the Mormon Church, when Joseph Smith established plural marriage and Brigham Young followed up with ``blood atonement,'' the doctrine that apostates to the faith must be killed (both practices were soon dropped by the official Church). A century later, a Mormon named Dayer LeBaron received visions calling him to a new life as a prophet-polygamist in Mexico, where he and his brothers established a fundamentalist cult. For unknown reasons, the family began to disintegrate: Several members wound up in mental hospitals; many of the rest became killers. In time, the mantle of prophecy landed on Dayer's son, Ervil, who satisfied his lust for power and sex with a dozen wives and a killing spree that began by targeting his brother Joel. As Ervil's murderous ``cleansings'' multiplied, other brothers, daughters, and wives, as well as disaffected followers, became victims. When Ervil died in prison, he passed on a 50-name hit-list and the mantle of the ``One Mighty and Strong'' prophet to other LeBarons, who today carry on the bloody family ways. Anderson tells his gripping tale with overwhelming detail, dollops of melodrama (lots of biblical parallels, like Ervil-Joel/Cain-Abel), and an eye for the seamier aspects. He also seems uneasy with the traditional Mormon Church, and baits its current leadership (``as much as Mormon officials might wish otherwise...'') more than once, a crudity that—along with the emphasis on sex and violence—may turn away some readers. Wins weirdness awards for true crime and religion: a double-whammy for a story of considerable energy but little finesse.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-385-41904-X

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Doubleday

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1992

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

A CONSPIRACY OF BONES

Another sweltering month in Charlotte, another boatload of mysteries past and present for overworked, overstressed forensic anthropologist Temperance Brennan.

A week after the night she chases but fails to catch a mysterious trespasser outside her town house, some unknown party texts Tempe four images of a corpse that looks as if it’s been chewed by wild hogs, because it has been. Showboat Medical Examiner Margot Heavner makes it clear that, breaking with her department’s earlier practice (The Bone Collection, 2016, etc.), she has no intention of calling in Tempe as a consultant and promptly identifies the faceless body herself as that of a young Asian man. Nettled by several errors in Heavner’s analysis, and even more by her willingness to share the gory details at a press conference, Tempe launches her own investigation, which is not so much off the books as against the books. Heavner isn’t exactly mollified when Tempe, aided by retired police detective Skinny Slidell and a host of experts, puts a name to the dead man. But the hints of other crimes Tempe’s identification uncovers, particularly crimes against children, spur her on to redouble her efforts despite the new M.E.’s splenetic outbursts. Before he died, it seems, Felix Vodyanov was linked to a passenger ferry that sank in 1994, an even earlier U.S. government project to research biological agents that could control human behavior, the hinky spiritual retreat Sparkling Waters, the dark web site DeepUnder, and the disappearances of at least four schoolchildren, two of whom have also turned up dead. And why on earth was Vodyanov carrying Tempe’s own contact information? The mounting evidence of ever more and ever worse skulduggery will pull Tempe deeper and deeper down what even she sees as a rabbit hole before she confronts a ringleader implicated in “Drugs. Fraud. Breaking and entering. Arson. Kidnapping. How does attempted murder sound?”

Forget about solving all these crimes; the signal triumph here is (spoiler) the heroine’s survival.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-9821-3888-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Scribner

Review Posted Online: Dec. 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how...

THE A LIST

A convicted killer’s list of five people he wants dead runs the gamut from the wife he’s already had murdered to franchise heroine Ali Reynolds.

Back in the day, women came from all over to consult Santa Clarita fertility specialist Dr. Edward Gilchrist. Many of them left his care happily pregnant, never dreaming that the father of the babies they carried was none other than the physician himself, who donated his own sperm rather than that of the handsome, athletic, disease-free men pictured in his scrapbook. When Alexandra Munsey’s son, Evan, is laid low by the kidney disease he’s inherited from his biological father and she returns to Gilchrist in search of the donor’s medical records, the roof begins to fall in on him. By the time it’s done falling, he’s serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for commissioning the death of his wife, Dawn, the former nurse and sometime egg donor who’d turned on him. With nothing left to lose, Gilchrist tattoos himself with the initials of five people he blames for his fall: Dawn; Leo Manuel Aurelio, the hit man he’d hired to dispose of her; Kaitlyn Todd, the nurse/receptionist who took Dawn’s place; Alex Munsey, whose search for records upset his apple cart; and Ali Reynolds, the TV reporter who’d helped put Alex in touch with the dozen other women who formed the Progeny Project because their children looked just like hers. No matter that Ali’s been out of both California and the news business for years; Gilchrist and his enablers know that revenge can’t possibly be served too cold. Wonder how far down that list they’ll get before Ali, aided once more by Frigg, the methodical but loose-cannon AI first introduced in Duel to the Death (2018), turns on them?

Proficient but eminently predictable. Amid all the time shifts and embedded backstories, the most surprising feature is how little the boundary-challenged AI, who gets into the case more or less inadvertently, differs from your standard human sidekick with issues.

Pub Date: April 2, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-5011-5101-9

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Feb. 19, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2019

Did you like this book?

more