Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.
In this mystery, the setting is as integral a part of the story as the plot and characters. Written by a practicing Mormon, The Bishop’s Wife takes place in a mainstream (not polygamous fundamentalist) Utah Mormon community, which the author acknowledges will seem like a foreign country to many readers--me included--because of its distinct worldviews and unique organization.
Main character Linda Wallheim is mostly devout, but not without some troubling questions and opinions about her church’s structure, politics, and penchant for secrecy. She’s an almost empty nest mother, increasingly at loose ends, and her husband is their ward’s bishop, an honor and responsibility that rotates among member men. When he’s called to assist a family after a young wife goes missing in suspicious circumstances Linda gets deeply involved in the mystery, driven by a lingering grief from her past. Was it murder? Could there have been abuse? Or did the woman run away, abandoning her husband and child to start a new life outside the confines of the community?
There are actually two ominous and gripping mysteries in The Bishop’s Wife, one decades old and one new, and the thoughtful treatment of the subject matter gives the story more emotional depth than the average whodunit. Mormon perspectives on community, gender roles, motherhood, family, the afterlife, and life purpose are seamlessly woven into the plot and make this an extra interesting novel.