Thursday, March 5, 2015

Review: The Bishop's Wife

The Bishop’s Wife
by Mette Ivie Harrison

Why did you choose this book? I liked the cover and the story sounded interesting
When did you read this book? February 2015
Who should read this book? readers of mystery
Source: library ebook
Here is a synopsis of The Bishop’s Wife from Goodreads

In the predominantly Mormon city of Draper, Utah, some seemingly perfect families have deadly secrets.

Linda Wallheim is a devout Mormon, the mother of five boys and the wife of a bishop. But Linda is increasingly troubled by her church’s structure and secrecy, especially as a disturbing situation takes shape in her ward. One cold winter night, a young wife and mother named Carrie Helm disappears, leaving behind everything she owns. Carrie’s husband, Jared, claims his wife has always been unstable and that she has abandoned the family, but Linda doesn’t trust him. As Linda snoops in the Helm family’s circumstances, she becomes convinced that Jared has murdered his wife and painted himself as a wronged husband.

Linda’s husband asks her not to get involved in the unfolding family saga. But Linda has become obsessed with Carrie’s fate, and with the well-being of her vulnerable young daughter. She cannot let the matter rest until she finds out the truth. Is she wrong to go against her husband, the bishop, when her inner convictions are so strong?

Inspired by a chilling true crime and written by a practicing Mormon, The Bishop’s Wife is both a fascinating look at the lives of modern Mormons as well as a grim and cunningly twisted mystery.

My Review

I saw this one at the Random House ‘Keep Calm and Read On’ event held at our local library last fall and immediately decided that I wanted to read it. The cover pulled me right in. So I put it on reserve as soon as I had the chance and finally got that chance last month. Unfortunately, the book was a bit of a disappointment!

The book is a mystery and as a story, it is a pretty good one. Some may feel it is a predictable whodunit, and I will admit that when the culprit was revealed, it did not surprise me. However, it could have ended with several others being the perpetrator, and I would not have been surprised. There were plenty of twists and turns and plenty of false leads that left me thinking throughout the book “oh, so HE’S the killer!”. My problem isn’t with the story but with the ‘mormon’ elements brought into the story. Please let me explain that.

I felt like the author was unsure of who her audience might be, so she tried to cover all her bases. She often explained Mormon terms and ideologies. As a non-Mormon, I found these definition helpful at times, but often, if it was more than a simple definition, it was treated superficially and I felt like it didn’t add to my knowledge. At times, Linda, the main character, would begin to explain a concept and end with an ‘I don’t really understand it either’ (paraphrased!). I can’t really speak for a Mormon reader, but I suspect they would be just as frustrated with this superficial explanation of something they already know. I felt like sometimes these explanations got in the way of moving the story along. And even worse, at times I felt ‘talked down to’.

I also was annoyed by the main character, Linda, the Bishop’s Wife. She was a classic busybody, always getting into someone else’s business. She often appeared to resent her role as the ‘bishop’s wife’, yet at other times she relished the excuse it gave her to mind someone else’s business. She was judgemental and seemed to distrust and dislike men; at times this even included her husband. She interfered with a police investigation more than once, apparently because she thought she was better at doing their jobs than they were….and of course, they were men!

I think had Linda been toned down a bit, and some of the explanations left out, this could have been a really good story. If you enjoy mysteries, it is still a good story….it just could have been better!

My Rating:  ★★★   3 Stars

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