My fascination with religious cultures that are different from my own continues, and an endorsement from Julia Spencer-Fleming that this one was "(a)n insider's nuanced look at the workings of the Mormon church..." was all I needed to choose it.
Linda Wallheim is a devoted Mormon, and when a young woman in the ward for which her husband serves as bishop goes missing, her desire to play detective gets the best of her. In one of many leaps, she soon stumbles on a long-hidden murder that may have been committed by a man whose grieving widow is her only real friend.
Let me just get straight to the point: Harrison, herself a Mormon, does share some pretty interesting things about the church and its beliefs and believers, but these tidbits often come from contrived plot turns and conversations between characters that are forced in order to serve up a fact about the church.
A well-written first-person narrative is a treat, but Harrison's character becomes increasingly more unlikable and unsympathetic the more she tries to persuade you how clever and progressive and deep she is. Early in my reading, I jotted this down: skates on the edge of Stepford Wives, but can't help but like her.
I changed my mind by the time I was finished. And yes, I finished it. I wanted to find out the resolutions to the mysteries, and despite the sometimes tortuous narrative I was still interested in what I was learning about the practice of the Mormon faith.
I was skimming by the end, though.
Have you ever accepted an invitation to do lunch only to realize before the salads get to the table that not only do you not have anything in common with your table mate, but that you don't want to?
So, yep. That about sums it up.