I have long been fascinated by the Mormon Church. What they do, what they believe, and how they practice. In the past couple of years I have gotten to know some Mormon women, and as often as they’ve invited me to go to church with them, I’ve never taken them up on the invite. I recently read The Bishop’s Wife, all about the wife of a Mormon bishop, and absolutely loved it. Not only because of the double murder mystery the sotry focuses on, but also because it provides an inside look at the Mormon Church. Mette Ivie Harrison herself is a lifelong member of the Church, so who better to write about the institution.
One thing that fascinates me about Mormons is their work ethic. I feel (and could be way wrong here) that there is something ingrained into Mormons – wether it be taught by parents, or by the church itself, about hard work. Most Mormons I know are overachievers. And Harrison herself is an example of that. She is a mother of 5, has a PhD from Princeton, and is an accomplished triathlete. I’m so humbled by that, and her devotion to her faith. There is a bit of her in Linda, the main character of this story, as a mother of five boys. She is a bishop’s wife, and in their church that means her husband’s role as bishop is not necessarily a preacher of the word, so much as a leader of the church. He is responsible for performing some ceremonies, counseling, and general church business. During the day he is a busy accountant, he is the father to their sons, and taking on this role as the church’s bishop is an honor, but keeps him incredibly busy.
As the bishop’s wife, she has certain responsibility to the ward. She has a big family to care for, but those boys are mostly grown, and other than keeping up with the laundry and grocery shopping, she has a little more free time on her hand. She’s kind of a busybody. Not in a bad way, she just seems to have watched a few too many crime shows. So when a neighbor, young mother, and member of their ward goes missing, she assumes the worse. Though, as the missing woman’s husband is introduced, and his father, it seems like a closed case. These two men represent the worst about the Mormon Church. Linda is sure they are responsible for her disappearance.
In this close-knit community, the murder investigation seems to be handled internally. This is at the same time scary and comforting. Comforting, because there is community and care for the families involved, which especially important in this case, as the missing woman left a five year old daughter behind. It’s terrifying, because in investigating the disappearance and murder of a young mother, being handled in the community gives that community the ability to cover up and protect possible suspects. Linda thinks she knows what happened to Carrie Helm, and I thought I did too. I was surprised by the ending, and surprised to have loved this book so much. Harrison has a handful of other books published, and a sequel to The Bishop’s Wife. His Right Hand is moving the top of my TBR list!