Short ‘n sweet: The Bishop’s Wife (review)

The Bishop’s Wife
Mette Ivie Harrison
SOHO Crime

I listened to this story a year ago and immediately added The Bishop’s Wife to my TBR list. This is writer Mette Ivie Harrison first mystery in the bishop's wifea series featuring Linda Wallheim, Mormon wife and mother-turned-detective. Many of us know little about the Mormon faith because so many of their practices are shrouded in mystery. We only hear snippets about baptism after death and holy undergarments and Golden Plates. So I wouldn’t be honest if I didn’t admit to reading The Bishop’s Wife out of simple curiosity.

Let me say first off that I loved Linda, a fifty-something, devout homemaker questioning the worth of the roles that had defined her for so many years. And probably making matters worse is the fact that Linda is the bishop’s wife–her husband’s position in the church puts their private life on hold and puts her in the public church’s eye.

When a member of the Wallheim’s church disappears, the police get involved and the Wallheims (or Linda at least) become suspicious that the young mother may have left because of  her husband’s right-wing religious beliefs. Or worse–did she leave or was she harmed in some way?

The Bishop’s Wife has a huge cast of characters and a subplot involving another suspicious death, but this one fifty years before. I think the novel was at its best when Linda’s life is at its center. While it might be difficult for some readers to connect with her Mormon beliefs, it is easy to connect with Linda’s struggle to define herself now that her children were grown. She questioned whether or not it was enough to be a homemaker in an empty nest.

And just as gripping as Linda’s struggles and the mystery she was trying to solve was the peek we get into the everyday life of a Mormon family. It’s a world few of us know outside of outrageous reality TV, and the glimpse Harrison (a practicing Mormon herself) provides is fascinating. In fact, she did so much explaining of Mormon customs and church life that it distracted at times from the story.

So will I read Linda Wallheim Mystery #2 His Right Hand just published (link) this December in hardcover?

Yup.

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