Sunday, January 25, 2015

THE BISHOP'S WIFE by Mette Ivie Harrison

Mette Ivie Harrison’s The Bishop’s Wife surprised me.

Many mysteries use religion as a setting, something to add interest. In The Bishop’s Wife, Linda Wallheim’s Mormon faith informs the story.

The murders occur as a reaction to or a distortion of the Mormon faith.

Carrie Helm runs away from her husband and small daughter. Later, someone murders her.

At the same time, Linda Wallheim, the bishop’s wife, becomes friendly with another middle-aged woman whose elderly husband is dying. 

As the man dies, everyone starts to ask what happened to his first wife. And the story goes from there.

The two stories don’t mesh. They are more parallel, similar kinds of things which happened at different times.

Harrison describes parts of Mormonism, especially marriage practices and the role of women in the church.

I was raised Catholic. I always used to watch the women take more power in the church than the structure wanted to give them, maybe not complete power, but more power. Something similar was happening here.

The bishop more-than-tolerates his wife investigating terrible things. He allows her to put herself at risk. 

Others in the church might not understand Linda Wallheim, but her straight-laced husband does.

Bishop Wallheim and his wife still have to talk about a long-ago tragedy in their own lives.

I wondered what faithful Mormons thought about The Bishop’s Wife.

I found this to be a well-written and interesting story. The two threads paralleled in an improbable way, but that didn’t interfere with my enjoyment of the book.

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