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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 name 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.


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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 name 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.

30 review for The Bishop’s Wife

  1. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    I wanted to like this book. I liked Linda, the protagonist, most of the time, because she was a mostly real, LDS woman who is nonjudgmental, a great listener, and a real giver of service, except when she's doing things that are incredibly stupid, which I can't describe without a lot of spoilers. My chief complaint is that the book misrepresents the Church in some ways, and some of them are necessary to construct a plot and some of them aren't. I realize that everyone's experience in The Church of I wanted to like this book. I liked Linda, the protagonist, most of the time, because she was a mostly real, LDS woman who is nonjudgmental, a great listener, and a real giver of service, except when she's doing things that are incredibly stupid, which I can't describe without a lot of spoilers. My chief complaint is that the book misrepresents the Church in some ways, and some of them are necessary to construct a plot and some of them aren't. I realize that everyone's experience in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is going to be as individual as he or she is, but there are things about the Church that are best told true. For example, I was shocked that a bishop would leave his wife a list of people who might need service or a listening ear. If I went to my bishop for counsel and his wife showed up the next day with a plate of cookies and an offer to help with whatever my needs might be, I would consider the confidentiality between a bishop and me--a member of the ward--to have been shockingly violated. If the bishop thinks someone needs to keep an eye on me, the proper person to contact is not his wife, but the Relief Society president--a calling reduced to preparing and cleaning up for weddings and funerals in this book. The organizations in the Church that supply people to watch over others and show up when there's a possible need for service (because they find out in some way other than the bishop breaking confidentiality) are the visiting and home teaching programs, which are completely and unrealistically ignored in this novel so that Linda can go in and do what people's home and visiting teachers should be doing (or not doing). Furthermore, the author has Linda and a deceased man's wife dressing his body for his funeral, skin out. Maybe things are done differently in Draper, but I've lived in Texas, Utah, California, and Pennsylvania, and ordinarily the male members of the family or ward clothe the body of a man, and the female members clothe a woman. I found it very unusual that an unrelated woman would be helping to dress the body of a deceased man. It seems that the author created that opportunity in order to describe the temple garments and other clothing--admittedly in a way that may lessen the strangeness factor for a non-LDS reader, but it struck me as an inappropriate contrivance. The author also can't leave out any possible controversial subject--Blacks and the priesthood? Check. Homosexuality? Check. Polygamy and some controversies surrounding Joseph Smith? Check. The position of women in the Church? Check, check, check. Domestic abuse of every stripe? Check, check, check, check. I don't disagree with the author's treatment of these subjects (except the position of women--more on that in a minute), but I can't understand why she felt it necessary to include her opinions on everything as she went along, as though she had to get them in, just in case she never gets another chance. I fear that the representation of the position of women in the Church in this book will be misunderstood. Even in her own marriage, the protagonist is squirming with authority issues. And the characters who are described as "religious extremists" are pure misogynists using religion as an excuse for their beliefs--which are totally contrary to LDS doctrine and Christianity in general. The author tries to show this, but there are so many men in the book that fit the description that I wonder if readers will believe that there are men like this behind every bush and tree in the Church. In my forty-plus years of Church membership, I have never met anyone who believed that women are inferior as several of the men in this book do. That doesn't mean they don't exist, but they are uncommon and becoming less common, and I would refer people to talks by LDS General Authorities on lds.org for the Church's position on women as daughters of God and strong, capable individuals with an increasingly stronger voice in the Church hierarchy. I hope that someday the false, misogynistic attitudes like those held by some men in this book will be enough to deny someone a temple recommend. The actions they lead to, at least as described in the novel, are already excommunicable offenses. I disagree with the author that the Church in Utah is so vastly different than the Church elsewhere. I appreciate the author's attempts to make Linda nonjudgmental and her tendency to admit that she's not perfect, but at times that just makes her seem wishy-washy. I did get a chuckle out of the misguided character who wanted to ask the bishop to get all the lawyers in the ward to donate their services to his loved one's criminal case--as though lawyers all know how to pursue criminal law and as though professionals (who also have to make a living) should be willing to donate their time when they've been hired to devote all their professional time to their law firm or other employer. I appreciate the author's attempts to present her experience in the Church, but by ignoring some important aspects of the Church in order to put her protagonist in a position to pursue the plot, she does her readers and the Church a disservice. And yes, I realize how judgmental that sounds.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Oh, I really wanted to like this book. I guess this book is an accurate depiction of Mormonism - if your neighbors are all pedophiles, misogynists, fanatics and spouse abusers. Otherwise, no, this is not an accurate depiction of Mormonism. I don't want to simply discount the book for going too far in one direction (at one point, the main character even looks at her own grown sons and wonders how many of them are abusing their young wives- wow!) but, the plot is also convoluted and some interestin Oh, I really wanted to like this book. I guess this book is an accurate depiction of Mormonism - if your neighbors are all pedophiles, misogynists, fanatics and spouse abusers. Otherwise, no, this is not an accurate depiction of Mormonism. I don't want to simply discount the book for going too far in one direction (at one point, the main character even looks at her own grown sons and wonders how many of them are abusing their young wives- wow!) but, the plot is also convoluted and some interesting plot lines are simply dropped, or left unresolved. Like many of the reviewers before me, I really got the sense the author was just trying to cram in every shocking tidbit about Mormonism she could- to the detriment of the story. The frequent pedantic explanations repeatedly brought the narrative to a screeching halt. There are so many important positions and contributions by and for women in the LDS Church; unfortunately, this book diminishes all that. In my lifetime experience in the LDS church, I have never met a bishop's wife that felt such a need to insert herself into every facet of the member's lives. However, the scale of unintentional comedy reached a crescendo when the heroic bishop's wife ran into a house surrounded by police and swat team members (because...only the Bishop's Wife could save the day!!!?!!!!) Like many reviewers have already pointed out, the doctrinal points were sometimes accurate, sometimes out of context, and sometimes just wrong. Blood ON the moon? Extending a hand to a spirit a myth or legend? (D&C 129). I was saddened to read Sarah Beth's review of this book; "...this was really creepy and terrible and I hope mormonism isn't really like that." Yes, it was creepy and terrible, and, no, Sarah Beth, Mormonism isn't really like that.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Martha

    Warning: this does contain a few spoilers. Sorry. Early: I'm only a few pages in, and already I have comments. This book can't seem to decide if it is for people familiar or NOT with LDS culture: it explains about Relief Society and cultural halls, and takes a stab at temple marriage, but rolls right past Stake Presidents and High Councils and calls the Word of Wisdom "ridiculously high standards". Update: The book still can't decide on its audience. And the funeral home scene should be majorly s Warning: this does contain a few spoilers. Sorry. Early: I'm only a few pages in, and already I have comments. This book can't seem to decide if it is for people familiar or NOT with LDS culture: it explains about Relief Society and cultural halls, and takes a stab at temple marriage, but rolls right past Stake Presidents and High Councils and calls the Word of Wisdom "ridiculously high standards". Update: The book still can't decide on its audience. And the funeral home scene should be majorly summarized. The doctrine in the book is kind of messed up. A lot of it is correct enough to mostly sound right, but wrong enough to give the wrong impression. I have a problem with that. I realize this is a murder mystery, not a doctrinal book, but authors should be faithful to their "world." Also, the author seemed to be going out of her way to address unusual factors or viewpoints, rather than staying mainstream (Mormon mainstream, I mean), but there wasn't a literary reason to do so, so it didn't add anything to the story, regardless of audience. In fact, it was quite distracting. Early: The characters so far include the politically ultra-liberal Mormon, the feminist Mormon, the controversial-&-headed-for-excommunication Mormon, the potentially murderous Mormon. Yes, these all exist in real life, so I'm not complaining about that part of it.... but where's the large proportion of average Mormons? Update: Also the abusive fathers (plural!) and the keep-a-secret-by-burying-the-body-in-the-backyard Mormon. Again, those are NOT typical--where's the large proportion of average Mormons? (Actually, those aren't even typical for non-Mormons, either...) On a more nitpicky level, there's a random "Samuel" sandwiched between two sentences on the first page, and two farther along, as well as the occasional missing space that crams two words together. It really bothered me that a certain character, who had been abused by her father, was more concerned that her four abortions (to hide the consequences) had created fertility problems than she was by the fact that she had had four (FOUR!) abortions. Considering that abortion is a big (no, not absolute) NO in Mormon doctrine, it SHOULD have at least bothered her. The ongoing internal conflict regarding Georgia was never resolved in any way. The plot seemed overly complicated. ("You thought she was killed! But there is the video... But what about the other neighbor... But the phone call.... But... But... But...") While the murderer was caught (sorry, spoiler), I still didn't like the way the book ended. Or middled. (That SHOULD be a word, right?) I'm afraid I can't recommend this book, although I do think that the problems I have with it could be fixed (or at least improved in the author's next book). I received this book in a Goodreads giveaway, but got no other compensation for my review. My opinions are entirely my own.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Markus

    This is a fairly enjoyable tour guide through Mormonism, and an absolutely hot mess of a mystery.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kirsten

    I absolutely loved this book! Full disclosure: I am a Mormon. However, like the main character, I am a convert and was not born and raised in the faith. But, unlike Linda, I am unmarried and childless. I'm sure some people thought that there was too much background about the Church in the book. I'm not one of them. The author needed to project just how distinct Mormon culture is from mainstream America. This culture is important to the book. This book brings up troubling images and places them in I absolutely loved this book! Full disclosure: I am a Mormon. However, like the main character, I am a convert and was not born and raised in the faith. But, unlike Linda, I am unmarried and childless. I'm sure some people thought that there was too much background about the Church in the book. I'm not one of them. The author needed to project just how distinct Mormon culture is from mainstream America. This culture is important to the book. This book brings up troubling images and places them in the frame of a patriarchal culture and how a woman is identified in Mormon life. I thought this book was wonderful on a non-mystery level. I loved the characters and the tapestry of layers in the book. In many ways, for me, the mystery was secondary and was a vehicle to help the author explore some theme in Mormon life. Some of these themes are hard to discuss in the Mormon world. But they need to be.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jaylia3

    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 s 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.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    First, let me start out by saying this was a good story, and the writing is compelling. My criticisms of it are not with the quality of the story, and I like that a work based on a Mormon (i.e. a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, sometimes LDS for short) protagonist is published for a non-LDS audience. Some criticize books published by Deseret Book and other LDS publishers as being too vanilla, with “happily-ever-after” endings where everyone (or nearly everyone) ends up First, let me start out by saying this was a good story, and the writing is compelling. My criticisms of it are not with the quality of the story, and I like that a work based on a Mormon (i.e. a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, sometimes LDS for short) protagonist is published for a non-LDS audience. Some criticize books published by Deseret Book and other LDS publishers as being too vanilla, with “happily-ever-after” endings where everyone (or nearly everyone) ends up choosing to live righteously. My only complaints are with how she sometimes portrays our culture (I am a Mormon), and the inaccuracies about her portrayal of the Church and some of its doctrines are glaring. She seems to seek out every controversial doctrine in the history of the Church, and this almost makes the book read like an anti-Mormon tract (although, ironically, that is one of the things that leads people to investigate the Church and leads to many being baptized). This book purports to be written by “a practicing Mormon,” and that may be true, but several things in the book made me wonder how devoutly she practices her religion. For example, she mentions that the counselors in the First Presidency (the highest leadership of the Church, consisting of the President of the Church and two counselors) are elected, which is simply not true. They are chosen by revelation and inspiration, as are the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (See this video for more information: https://www.lds.org/prophets-and-apos...). She also says that it is regularly mentioned in General Conference (bi-annual meetings where leaders of the Church give messages to address the whole world and all members of the Church about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and topics of current interest) that we are counseled to grow as much of our own food as we can. I have rarely heard – in 45 years of being raised in the Church – such counsel even peripherally, the closest thing I recall being that we should have a year’s supply of food storage for our families to prepare for a possible emergency. The protagonist seems to mistrust all men and thinks Mormon culture is patriarchal and that the males are dominant and controlling. I am reluctant to criticize that, because I am a man, but there are millions of LDS women who seem to like being a part of the Church. One thing I do know is that the men of the Church are often counseled against such domineering behavior, and the scriptures unequivocally state (and we are frequently reminded by General Conference talks) that when a man behaves with “unrighteous dominion” that he loses the Spirit. She also refers to the wife of the bishop – the ecclesiastical leader of a congregation who also has oversight to help with the temporal needs of members of his ward (congregation) – as the “mother of the ward.” I not only have I never heard this, it simply hasn’t ever been the case in any situation I’ve ever been in, and I’ve lived in 16 wards in my lifetime and visited countless others. Characters in the book also focus on questionable fringe doctrines (such as that the Ten Tribes of Israel are under the ice at the North Pole or about polygamy returning or being practiced in the afterlife) and disregard or downplay important things such as fasting & prayer for a person in trouble and marriage in the temple (vs. secular marriage). She also cites some statistics that seem inaccurate such as that about 50% of young men don’t serve missions and that the emphasis on their service has been reduced in recent years. This is simply not true, as record numbers of missionaries are now serving, and the increase is nearly 30,000 missionaries worldwide since October 2012! Other things that are unusual are the numbers of meetings in the bishop’s office at his home, which may have been done for the sake of the story but rarely happen; sharing of confidential information by the bishop with his wife (which does happen from time-to-time, I’m sure, but which is discouraged, and most bishops adhere to this principle); speculation by a character about whether to include a discussion of the Twilight books in a workshop about domestic abuse because the author is Stephanie Meyers, a Mormon; and most particularly, a statement that “even the Apostles had begun to admit” that homosexuality had a basis in genetic predisposition and was not a lifestyle choice – something that I can’t say I’ve ever heard before, and even if that is true, they don’t excuse the behavior and have counseled that like all temptations to sin, it can be overcome through faith and prayer and the love of others. Read the story – it is a decent work of fiction – but if you have questions about the LDS church or its doctrines, visit www.mormon.org and chat with a representative online.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Anderson

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I really struggled with how to rate this book, so here are my pros and cons. Enjoyable - I really liked Linda, the main character, both her descriptions of the world around her and her internal narrative. I am not Mormon, so this was a window into a new faith community for me. (Of course I'd never make the assumption that any one voice could speak for an entire community.) This is a cozy mystery, with the darker aspects of life held at arm's length, even though they are at the heart of the story. I really struggled with how to rate this book, so here are my pros and cons. Enjoyable - I really liked Linda, the main character, both her descriptions of the world around her and her internal narrative. I am not Mormon, so this was a window into a new faith community for me. (Of course I'd never make the assumption that any one voice could speak for an entire community.) This is a cozy mystery, with the darker aspects of life held at arm's length, even though they are at the heart of the story. I found that I really needed that right now. It was also nice to have the narrator in a mystery be a person with a loving family. (So rare!) Frustrating - While I appreciate what the author was trying to do with the sub-plot of Linda's ongoing sorrow about the death of her infant daughter, it didn't work for this reader. If the deceased daughter's sub-plot is stripped away, I don't see that it alters anything in the story or the way I feel about Linda. I'd love to see Harrison write a book that focuses on such a death; she has much to say on the subject. What else bugged me? The writing was uneven. Descriptions of Mormon belief and custom were not as smoothly woven into the narrative as I'd have liked. And the sub-plot with the death of Tobias' first wife did not work at all for me. I will definitely read Harrison's other mysteries. She's a good writer, that is clear. I suspect that in this, her first adult mystery, she needed some time and space to work out her main character and how she wanted to describe the setting and religious context. So three stars, and looking forward to reading more!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emily Coleman

    Linda Wallheim is the bishop's wife. A mother of five boys and the surrogate mother of her ward in Draper, Utah. She's used to late-night phone calls, visits, and responds to the call for help. When her friend, Carrie, disappears, leaving behind her young daughter and husband, Linda fears for the worst. Carrie's husband, Jared, is acting strangely, and Linda is determined to get to the bottom of where Carrie has gone. I read this book on the plane ride back from BEA (Book Expo America) this year, Linda Wallheim is the bishop's wife. A mother of five boys and the surrogate mother of her ward in Draper, Utah. She's used to late-night phone calls, visits, and responds to the call for help. When her friend, Carrie, disappears, leaving behind her young daughter and husband, Linda fears for the worst. Carrie's husband, Jared, is acting strangely, and Linda is determined to get to the bottom of where Carrie has gone. I read this book on the plane ride back from BEA (Book Expo America) this year, and I was riveted. This book is about a Mormon woman, but it's unlike any other book about a Mormon woman that I've ever read before. Long ago I gave up on LDS fiction, and part of me is convinced that it's impossible to write a compelling narrative about a person with intense, pure faith. At least, I haven't found it yet. What sparkles in this novel is the fact that Linda is unabashedly questioning. This causes tension with her husband, children, and members of her ward. And it's so completely real that I found myself really wanting to be friends with Linda. Mette has moved us past the illusion of a perfect woman and a perfect family to a study on how to be "faithful" and questioning. Linda confronts questions about the LDS church that aren't comfortable. And they don't have easy answers. At times, Linda is judgmental and wrong. But, she's also kind and strong. I'm not sure how other Mormons will react. It may be difficult to see the culture from an outsider's view. Mette is a practicing Mormon, but this narrative reads more like someone on the outside looking in. However, there will be some translating involved for readers not familiar with the vocabulary of Mormons. It's a difficult balance to work out how much explanation to give non-Mormons while also not bogging down the story with too much detail. The book isn't perfect. It suffers at times from a cohesive narrative, and it's just not quite as tight in the plot as it could be. However, on a more personal note, it resonated with me. It was a book that was at once entertaining and thought-provoking. It gave me a little glimmer that perhaps there are some other Mormon women out there like me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    LibraryReads

    “As a practicing Mormon, I felt Harrison did a great job of detailing Mormon culture and doctrine without evangelizing. I appreciated that the bishop is a good man, and the bishop’s wife is a woman who has been through her own struggles. The bishop’s wife sometimes can barely keep up with all the drama and mysteries around her. But she does, and does it quite well under the circumstances. This is a rather brave book.” Amanda Monson, Bartow County Library System, Cartersville, GA

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    I'll never forget the cab driver who drove me from the Salt Lake City airport to my hotel, telling me that the Mormons in that town weren't all as upstanding as they seemed and proceeded to tell me about secret bars for Mormon men who kept up appearances to their wives and the rest of the world. I remember this so clearly because at that point, even though this was shortly after Elizabeth Smart's very public return from captivity, I knew very little about the Mormon religion or the expected life I'll never forget the cab driver who drove me from the Salt Lake City airport to my hotel, telling me that the Mormons in that town weren't all as upstanding as they seemed and proceeded to tell me about secret bars for Mormon men who kept up appearances to their wives and the rest of the world. I remember this so clearly because at that point, even though this was shortly after Elizabeth Smart's very public return from captivity, I knew very little about the Mormon religion or the expected lifestyle of its members. That cab ride and my week in Salt Lake City began my fascination with this secretive religion and its adherents. The Bishop's Wife intrigued me, in part because it was written by a practicing Mormon and not someone with an ax to grind. So, along with a couple of mysteries to puzzle over, I learned a lot more about this religion and the extent that Mormons are governed by their rules and leaders. And although I really read the book to learn more about the Mormons, I found myself actually enjoying this mystery and liking most of the characters in this book.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Karyl

    I'm seventy-five pages in and I just can't make myself go any farther. I'm a fan of taut, fast-paced murder mysteries, even though they're not my preferred genre, and this is not it. Instead, the writing is very plodding and elementary (a lot of "I did this, and then I did that, and then I did this other thing," which makes for a rather dull read), and even 20% of the way through the book I should have some inkling of whether a murder had been committed or if I suspected someone. Perhaps Harriso I'm seventy-five pages in and I just can't make myself go any farther. I'm a fan of taut, fast-paced murder mysteries, even though they're not my preferred genre, and this is not it. Instead, the writing is very plodding and elementary (a lot of "I did this, and then I did that, and then I did this other thing," which makes for a rather dull read), and even 20% of the way through the book I should have some inkling of whether a murder had been committed or if I suspected someone. Perhaps Harrison wrote this book as a way to showcase her religion. Or maybe she just made this a Mormon-based mystery because that's all she knows. The problem is, she's too close to her subject and she doesn't really explain all of it. In the section I did manage to finish, she did mention how sealing a marriage in the temple was something to be desired, but she glossed over the part about sealing one's children to oneself, but mentioned that Jared Helms had managed to accomplish it with his daughter. I was also a little taken aback by Linda's statement, after Judy Weston, the missing woman's mother, gives her a hug: "She stood up and came toward me, hugging me gently despite my stiffness. I was going to have to learn sometime, I told myself. This was how women interacted with one another." This, after she keeps saying that she's the bishop's wife, and as such, the mother of the ward? (Also Harrison keeps talking about the ward but never describes it for us non-Mormons.) She's been filling that role for a year at the time of this book. She should be a bit more comfortable in her role by now. Besides, I would assume Linda to be at least in her 40s, with two married sons. It's not like she's an unsure young wife and mother, in her early 20s. I do wish I didn't feel this way about the book, but my time is short and I simply cannot give it any more than I already have.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Gail Strickland

    I'm not sure how I feel about this novel. Lots of information on the LDS church and it's practices, several mysteries, and unlikeable characters. The writing isn't bad, but needs to be tighter as the story rather meanders all over the place at times and some situations aren't as clearly put forward as they should be. I did read this in an ARC, so hopefully by publication, someone will take another look at it, not only to tighten up the writing but to correct the many, many copy errors.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Loretta

    The first one hundred plus pages I sailed through. The last one hundred pages, I suffered through. The book was interesting in so far as describing the Morman faith, of which I don't know too much about. The premise of the book was good but fell flat. I guess if you don't have anything else to read, this would be a good filler.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Andrea Galbusieri

    I really enjoyed reading The Bishop's Wife, and I find it very interesting that the reviews are so polarized. Some have issues with Harrison's depiction of life in a Utah Mormon ward, but I assume that it can't be that far from the truth as Harrison is a practicing Mormon herself. I wasn't prepared to like Linda Wallheim, the bishop's wife and stay-at-home mom of five boys, so much. She is very down-to-earth with a healthy view of faith and slightly flawed, and I can certainly relate to her repe I really enjoyed reading The Bishop's Wife, and I find it very interesting that the reviews are so polarized. Some have issues with Harrison's depiction of life in a Utah Mormon ward, but I assume that it can't be that far from the truth as Harrison is a practicing Mormon herself. I wasn't prepared to like Linda Wallheim, the bishop's wife and stay-at-home mom of five boys, so much. She is very down-to-earth with a healthy view of faith and slightly flawed, and I can certainly relate to her repeated mistake of judging people at first glance (often wrongly, as we'll find out). A recurrent theme in the book was the misogyny displayed by the men in Wallheim's ward. Even though the bishop himself, her husband, seems to see his wife pretty much as his equal, he is still bound into the patriarchal system of the church. Harrison is being accused of thus portraying Mormonism in a negative way, but it should be quite clear to all of us that misogyny is not unique to the Mormon church alone, but inherent in every major religion's doctrine. Fundamentalists and fanatics are not unique to Mormonism; they're found hiding behind every other religion as well. Religious context aside, The Bishop's Wife is a great read for crime and mystery fans. It just isn't set in Amish Country or foggy London, but -quite uniquely and refreshingly- in a small town in Utah by the Great Salt Lake.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kerstin

    Man, I wanted to like this book. I really really wanted to like it. I heard her interviewed on Radio West, and, even though my reaction to her comments was mixed, I found her intriguing, and I wanted to give her book a try. Also, I was one degree separated from the author from two different sources. Unfortunately, I found myself having to slog my way through every page. I found myself wishing for a more edited version. In her interview on Radio West, she said that her editor kept asking for more Man, I wanted to like this book. I really really wanted to like it. I heard her interviewed on Radio West, and, even though my reaction to her comments was mixed, I found her intriguing, and I wanted to give her book a try. Also, I was one degree separated from the author from two different sources. Unfortunately, I found myself having to slog my way through every page. I found myself wishing for a more edited version. In her interview on Radio West, she said that her editor kept asking for more Mormon references and explanations, but I found both to be uncomfortable at best, laughable at worst. In addition to the Mormon references, the book is just screaming for a red pencil. Every comment in dialogue is followed by all of the thoughts of the main character that went behind making said comment. I wanted to groan. I always applaud anyone brave enough to put pen to paper, and then go through the arduous task of having it published, but I must admit that I was very disappointed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Suzette

    I had high hopes for this book - I love the other mysteries published by Soho Press and am sort of fascinated by the Mormon religion and those who practice it. BUT, even with an "exotic" setting, you still have to have a good mystery. The various plot lines in this book, instead, are more crazy soap opera drama than true detective mystery. Linda, the Bishop's wife, spends most of the book waffling between thinking someone is good and that the same person is bad, depending on the last thing anyon I had high hopes for this book - I love the other mysteries published by Soho Press and am sort of fascinated by the Mormon religion and those who practice it. BUT, even with an "exotic" setting, you still have to have a good mystery. The various plot lines in this book, instead, are more crazy soap opera drama than true detective mystery. Linda, the Bishop's wife, spends most of the book waffling between thinking someone is good and that the same person is bad, depending on the last thing anyone said to her. It was extremely annoying. I don't have to like my detective to enjoy the mystery - e.g., Hercule Poirot - but I don't want them to be idiots.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Beth

    well, for starters, I thought this was a mystery about mormons, but it turned out it was a mormon mystery. big difference. second, this was really creepy and terrible and I hope mormonism isn't really like that. third, that poor bishop's wife. her constant constant stating that "i'm the bishop's wife" was just a little thou doth protest too much about her importance. fourth, that youngest son is gay, right? they just dropped the storyline with the youngest son all together! he mentions the dad g well, for starters, I thought this was a mystery about mormons, but it turned out it was a mormon mystery. big difference. second, this was really creepy and terrible and I hope mormonism isn't really like that. third, that poor bishop's wife. her constant constant stating that "i'm the bishop's wife" was just a little thou doth protest too much about her importance. fourth, that youngest son is gay, right? they just dropped the storyline with the youngest son all together! he mentions the dad getting a letter, but we never hear another thing about it. not great, bob.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Christy

    I'm unsettled by this book. I appreciate the author exploring elements of Mormon culture, but why do it in a darkish mystery? I'm very disturbed by the main character whose entire world is her husband and nearly-grown sons. She pretty much had no friends, no outside interests, no job, no community service opportunities based on her own merits. She defined her place in her community through her husband's church service assignment alone. I did not like that. Plus, you know, murder.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Una Tiers

    This book has clear writing, a little information about the Mormon religion and a slow plot. A pleasant read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Shafer

    Stuck home with a nasty cold yesterday, I was intrigued by the polarized reviews of Mette Ivie Harrison's recent mystery, The Bishop's Wife, so I bought a kindle copy and read it. Basically, it's a step up from cozy (it's been edited, for one thing!) but not a real crime novel. It still features a middle-aged female protagonist, but there's no romance sub-plot, as she is happily married. Also, this woman is not stupid (as in most cozies) and she has no "in" with any cops. Linda, the protagonist, Stuck home with a nasty cold yesterday, I was intrigued by the polarized reviews of Mette Ivie Harrison's recent mystery, The Bishop's Wife, so I bought a kindle copy and read it. Basically, it's a step up from cozy (it's been edited, for one thing!) but not a real crime novel. It still features a middle-aged female protagonist, but there's no romance sub-plot, as she is happily married. Also, this woman is not stupid (as in most cozies) and she has no "in" with any cops. Linda, the protagonist, is indeed the Bishop's wife, and the main plot begins when her neighbor, a young mother, leaves home without a trace. At the same time, another neighbor's husband is dying -- and he keeps raving about his first wife, a woman whose death is also clouded in mystery. I really liked this book, but people are going nuts with negative reviews. So, instead of giving a regular review of my own, I thought I'd comment on a few recurring themes in the negative reviews. Negative theme #1: "It moves too slowly." Yeah, it kind of does move slowly. I agree. However, I think it's because Harrison gave it a Mormon setting, and, while an author can explain ordinary cozy hooks like baking or antique hunting with a few references, giving the non-Mormon reader some clue as to what life is like for Utah Mormons takes a fair amount of explanation. There just had to be a good deal of backstory. I'm not sure how Harrison could possibly have done otherwise. Negative theme #2 "It misrepresents the Church." A reviewer (unfortunately) named Lisa gave this book low ratings on goodreads, stating, "My chief complaint is that the book misrepresents the Church in some ways.... " Hers is a common complaint. Several readers objected to the fact that Harrison omits the Stake President in the story, which I found odd, because that position is completely irrelevant to the plot. Why would Harrison complicate things with even more Mormon backstory? I think that's also why she left out visiting teachers and home teachers; they aren't necessary to the plot, and the reader doesn't need to know every single thing about Mormons. Harrison also left out fast offerings, baptisms for the dead, and ward bulletins -- because they are necessary to the plot. Negative theme #3: "It's feminist." Yeah, it is. And that's a good thing, not a bad thing. Get over yourself. One Amazon reviewer who goes by "mindful" calls the book "a wolf in sheep's clothing." He identifies himself as a former Mormon bishop and is clearly offended by the fact that Harrison shows a lot of the turmoil Mormon women face. But it is precisely that realistic turmoil that makes the book work! Linda deals with everything from blatant misogyny (Alex Helm) to benevolent patriarchy (her own husband and every other "good" man in the plot) -- and she struggles with it. She also struggles with the eternal polygamy (in the afterlife)which still exists in the church. I know NUMEROUS women who are very, very troubled by this. I don't know a single man who worries much about it. Therefore, this "mindful" and the reviewers like him who pat women on their heads and tell us not to trouble ourselves with all this feminist thinking are EXACTLY the reason why books that deal with these issues need to be read. Negative theme #4: "The men aren't like real Mormon men." Several reviewers commented that there are no "good" men in this book. Huh? Linda's husband, her five sons, Tobias, Cheri Tate's husband, and her new son-in-law are all good men. But the book is about a crime, so it naturally focuses on the "bad guys." What do you expect in a mystery novel? Amazon reviewer L. Hawkins, who appears to be "Lisa" on goodreads, said, "In my forty-plus years of Church membership, I have never met anyone who believed that women are inferior as several of the men in this book do." My response to that is that in my lifetime, I've met many, many men who have no problem with women as second class Mormons -- as well as a fair number of men who've hid some pretty nasty stuff behind a facade of church righteousness, some of whom were never even reprimanded for it. Thus, I find Harrison's characters to be fairly plausible, given that this IS a mystery novel. So, would I recommend this book? Yes, I would -- to readers who can get through all the necessary backstory about Mormons and to Mormons who already know that backstory. If you're an impatient reader who needs constant action, if you couldn't make it through The Scarlet Letter and all its introspection, skip this one.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Iris P

    The book is well written and I found the explorations and description of the Mormon culture and customs fascinating. A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with the author on NPR and was intrigue with the unusual setting of the story. This is the first adult novel by Mette Ivie Harrison, who apparently is already well known in the world of young adult/fantasy romance genres. Linda Wallheim, who is the title character and narrator of the book, is a 50 something mother of 5 boys and the Bishop's wife The book is well written and I found the explorations and description of the Mormon culture and customs fascinating. A few weeks ago, I heard an interview with the author on NPR and was intrigue with the unusual setting of the story. This is the first adult novel by Mette Ivie Harrison, who apparently is already well known in the world of young adult/fantasy romance genres. Linda Wallheim, who is the title character and narrator of the book, is a 50 something mother of 5 boys and the Bishop's wife. Kurt, her husband is an accountant and the Bishop of their ward(congregation). The book is both a mystery novel, that deals with the investigation of two murders that, at times seem pretty implausible,as well as a window into the Mormon church, its culture, doctrine, rituals and practices. As a mystery, the story seems to stretch far longer than necessary and the way the plot(s) develop are not in my opinion, intriguing enough to consider it a "page turner". Linda becomes very involved in the investigation over the mysterious disappearance of Kelly Helm, a young wife that is part of her ward after Kelly's husband pays Linda a visit. This is one of the two crime stories that are explored throughout the novel. There are several characters and subplots, most of which include very chauvinistic men, that are in one way or another involved in the mistreatment, abuse, rape and even killing of women. My guess is that many Mormons, particularly men, might find the book's characterization of the male genre perhaps too one-sided. The novel also provides lots of details into Mormon culture and traditions. These descriptions might be culturally chocking for many readers, including me. I have to acknowledge my own bias, since as a someone that was raised within a Protestant tradition, I was taught that Mormonism was a not part of what is considered "mainstream Christianity". This perception appears to be changing somehow in the last few years as more high profile Mormons become part of our culture, politics, etc. and I think this is all for the better. Linda herself seem to acknowledge this characterization and sometimes appears to be conflicted about her faith and they way Mormons are perceived by many in our society. I also appreciate the fact that the author allows this character to show doubts about her beliefs, and even once in a while show some sense of humor by acknowledging how odd some of these beliefs might appeared to someone outside of her church (Special Underwear alert!!). Personally I don't think this is unique to the Mormon faith and most of us can probably find "quirky" practices on any religion. Also on the positive side, the book explores important social issues that are still so relevant today and that obviously not limited to Mormon culture, such as domestic violence, rape and anti-gay sentiments. At times Linda can be obnoxious and very bad a reading people!,her inner dialogue through the book drove me crazy sometimes, but she is also a wonderful wife and mother,loyal friend, supportive and a generous spirit. Linda still aches for her(stillborn) daughter and is very emotionally affected by this loss. But now that her youngest son is about to finish high school and probably leave the nest for good, she is a middle age woman looking ahead to the next chapter on her life and perhaps finally learn how to put aside this painful experience. I noticed that the book is described as a "Linda Wallheim novel", which seems to suggest that this is the first book in the series. I haven't made up my mind yet as to whether or not I'll give the author another try but I suggest that readers that are interested in Mysteries with a different flavor might want to give this one a try. I should also add that Kristen Potter, the audiobook narrator did a good job as usual.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    This book was hard to put down. It's described as a mystery, but it's definitely not a formulaic mystery (ie body found in the beginning and murder solved by the end)... But I appreciated that because I'm all for changing things up. The tone of the story read more like women's fiction and the religious "world" reminded me a lot of The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis (one of my all-time favs) in which we get a frank look inside a religious woman's mind who has a strong testimony of her faith but This book was hard to put down. It's described as a mystery, but it's definitely not a formulaic mystery (ie body found in the beginning and murder solved by the end)... But I appreciated that because I'm all for changing things up. The tone of the story read more like women's fiction and the religious "world" reminded me a lot of The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis (one of my all-time favs) in which we get a frank look inside a religious woman's mind who has a strong testimony of her faith but doesn't have all the answers (in this case, Mormonism. And no one has all the answers, so I appreciated the honesty of Linda's character as well). I loved the twists and turns, and I loved how the MC, Linda, made wrongful assumptions at first (so true-to-life) when a woman goes missing in her ward (church congregation). I loved how she was a selfless person as she helped her husband in his Church-calling, yet she felt lost in her own journey much of the time. Complicated characters draw me in, and I can always find something to relate to. Linda recognized the flaws in those around her immediately, but was willing to learn to see the good in those same people, and to be compassionate regardless. She also was fiercely protective of her personal grief, and that led her to grow her character and do the hard things that needed to be done. At several points, I thought I knew the answers, but Harrison would surprise me... which is the key in reading mysteries. I'd love to see a sequel/series to The Bishop's Wife since there were some things I wanted to see tied up (with Kenneth and Samuel, and even Anna) since I became invested in the secondary characters, and I could definitely continue reading about Linda's next adventures in life! (I hope she gets that cruise in...)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Linda Hart

    Poorly written. Misrepresents the LDS Church and is just too, too much. The author can't leave out any possible controversial subject. to quote Lisa, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... , another reviewer, "--Blacks and the priesthood? Check. Homosexuality? Check. Polygamy and some controversies surrounding Joseph Smith? Check. The position of women in the Church? Check, check, check. Domestic abuse of every stripe? Check, check, check, check. I don't disagree with the author's treatment of Poorly written. Misrepresents the LDS Church and is just too, too much. The author can't leave out any possible controversial subject. to quote Lisa, https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... , another reviewer, "--Blacks and the priesthood? Check. Homosexuality? Check. Polygamy and some controversies surrounding Joseph Smith? Check. The position of women in the Church? Check, check, check. Domestic abuse of every stripe? Check, check, check, check. I don't disagree with the author's treatment of these subjects (except the position of women--more on that in a minute), but I can't understand why she felt it necessary to include her opinions on everything as she went along, as though she had to get them in, just in case she never gets another chance." That this fictional BW would be so personally involved in each issue in such a short period of time & that this ward is an accurate representation of a typical LDS ward, Utah or otherwise, is as accurate as saying "Days of Our Lives" is representative of a typical American community.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The writing wasn't ground-breaking, but I enjoyed the fairly un-edited view of a Utah ward. (Full disclosure, I'm a practicing Mormon). I kept alternating between thinking "wow, people must think we are so strange!" and "actually, this is a fairly unfiltered view of how a Mormon ward actually works." Granted, there were things that were exaggerated (patriarchal/misogynistic men are not a dime a dozen like the book portrays them to be), but it was interesting to set a murder mystery within the fr The writing wasn't ground-breaking, but I enjoyed the fairly un-edited view of a Utah ward. (Full disclosure, I'm a practicing Mormon). I kept alternating between thinking "wow, people must think we are so strange!" and "actually, this is a fairly unfiltered view of how a Mormon ward actually works." Granted, there were things that were exaggerated (patriarchal/misogynistic men are not a dime a dozen like the book portrays them to be), but it was interesting to set a murder mystery within the framework of a Mormon housewife's life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bill

    Sigh.... I don't know if it was the intent but I spent much of The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison angry and depressed. This is the first book in Harrison's Linda Wallheim mystery series. Linda is the wife of a Mormon bishop in Draper, Utah. (I apologize from the outset if I get any terminology about the Mormon religion or practices wrong). The story starts out with the disappearance of Carrie Helm, the wife of one of the families in the community. Suspicion immediately falls on Carrie's hu Sigh.... I don't know if it was the intent but I spent much of The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison angry and depressed. This is the first book in Harrison's Linda Wallheim mystery series. Linda is the wife of a Mormon bishop in Draper, Utah. (I apologize from the outset if I get any terminology about the Mormon religion or practices wrong). The story starts out with the disappearance of Carrie Helm, the wife of one of the families in the community. Suspicion immediately falls on Carrie's husband Jared. Linda is struck by his aggressive attitude towards his wife. She fears for the safety of their small child, Kelly. (point to note, many years ago, Linda lost her sixth child, who would have been their only daughter) She finds herself getting more and more involved in trying solve the disappearance. Her previous loss does have an impact on her attitudes towards Jared and his father. Considering their personal attitudes to both women and Mormon teachings, I had difficulties with them as well. Adding to the story, Linda befriends Anna Torstensen, a neighbour whose husband is dying. There is a mystery there as well, about how his first wife, Helena, died. Linda finds many odd things around their house that leads her to believe that maybe Anna's husband might have killed his first wife. There are many disturbing aspects to this story, especially the treatment of women in this community. And what is being done?? Lots of hand wringing it seemed for the most part. It made me very frustrated. It was interesting to learn a bit about how the Mormon community operates and I would like to learn more. But even that I found somewhat frustrating. There were many unlikeable characters in this story and so many secrets. I don't know if it was intentional but where are the police? They play only a minor role in this investigation... anyway, there were enough interesting things in this story / mystery that I will try to find the next book and see how it continues to progress. (3 stars)

  27. 5 out of 5

    Lynn

    Full review at Smoke & Mirrors: http://books-n-music.blogspot.com/201.... Wow...just wow. Geeminy! This guy is sicker than sick. In many ways I thought this murder mystery was creepier than The Girl on the Train! There are so many things I appreciated about this book/story! Firstly, the depiction of men at various levels of hierarchical beliefs regarding their roles, particularly in relationship to the women in their lives. And how true that others can so easily fool us at times, especially if t Full review at Smoke & Mirrors: http://books-n-music.blogspot.com/201.... Wow...just wow. Geeminy! This guy is sicker than sick. In many ways I thought this murder mystery was creepier than The Girl on the Train! There are so many things I appreciated about this book/story! Firstly, the depiction of men at various levels of hierarchical beliefs regarding their roles, particularly in relationship to the women in their lives. And how true that others can so easily fool us at times, especially if they appear to be "successful," and well respected by society, with inherent status and power. It is very sad and yet so true; many times the most unethical and evil among us create a societal "shield" behind which they can hide themselves and their evil deeds. It was interesting to learn more about some of the spiritual beliefs of the Mormon religion, especially regarding death and the afterlife. I am anxious to see what one of the other Literary Wives co-hosting bloggers will say about the depiction of Mormonism by Harrison, given that she is herself a practicing Mormon. And some people among us are simply too scarred and beaten down by those they should be able to trust for love, respect, and security, to ever fully recover, no matter what. It always makes me sad and angry when family members abuse, mistreat, and permanently harm their own kin, for that harm is many times irreparable and the victim is unable to cope with life. The Literary Wives reviews will be posted on April 6, 2015.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Easyreader

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book made me very uncomfortable, and I regret reading it. It begins as a story about the wife of a high church official, who feels that it is her duty and opportunity to intrude herself into the lives of people to whom her husband has spoken confidentially, whether she has been asked to or not. She feels that by doing this she can help others who might be in difficult situations. I was not expecting the degree to which the heroine pushes into others' lives, putting them and herself at risk; This book made me very uncomfortable, and I regret reading it. It begins as a story about the wife of a high church official, who feels that it is her duty and opportunity to intrude herself into the lives of people to whom her husband has spoken confidentially, whether she has been asked to or not. She feels that by doing this she can help others who might be in difficult situations. I was not expecting the degree to which the heroine pushes into others' lives, putting them and herself at risk; the heroine's actions seemed almost unjustified in terms of the original character as presented. Nor was I expecting the degree of horror which revealed itself as the book came to a close. I almost felt that the author was working out her own demons, using her book and her readership as a chance to talk about something which was distressing her.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Anita

    I wanted to like this more. A mediocre mystery, but the setting is Draper, Utah so maybe that is what you should expect. It is fun to have Mormon characters, and this is better than other "Mormon" novels I've read. Of course, because it does hit close to home, I noticed the inconsistency of some of the literary license she takes that I wouldn't notice/care about in a Catholic or Jewish story. She does a good job of showing questions, and those who are not your stereotypical Mormon women. Fun to I wanted to like this more. A mediocre mystery, but the setting is Draper, Utah so maybe that is what you should expect. It is fun to have Mormon characters, and this is better than other "Mormon" novels I've read. Of course, because it does hit close to home, I noticed the inconsistency of some of the literary license she takes that I wouldn't notice/care about in a Catholic or Jewish story. She does a good job of showing questions, and those who are not your stereotypical Mormon women. Fun to see the local angle, but I'm still waiting for the Great Mormon Novel.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    I found the plot intriguing but the narrator's focus on her stillborn daughter became redundant. I think that Harrison has potential.

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