His Right Hand (A Linda Wallheim Mystery) by Mette Ivie Harrison

Reviewed by Caryn St. Clair

His Right HandLinda Wallheim, first introduced in The Bishop’s Wife, returns giving readers another peek behind the walls of the Mormon Church. While Kurt the Bishop deals with situations with in their church ward on a liturgical basis, it seems to fall to the Bishop’s wife to apply a more practical hand to things affecting people in the community. This sets up a perfect scenario for her to become a bit of a sleuth.

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Carl Ashby, a pillar of the community and a leader with in the church is found murdered in a church meeting room. While that in and of itself is a bit unexpected, the real shock comes later. When the autopsy is performed, it is discovered that Carl was actually a woman. The fact that he was married and had two adopted children adds to the puzzle. His wife refuses to accept that Carl was not a man, but Linda has to wonder, is she in denial or is she hiding something?

First off I would like to say that readers who are at all uncomfortable with books dealing with gender identity, transsexualism or homosexuality are not going to enjoy this book. All of these play heavily in not only the main mystery, but the secondary storylines as well.

However, if a readers can get past the sexual theme of the book, they are in for a treat. With this second book, Linda Waldheim becomes a better defined protagonist who seems more comfortable in her role as the Bishop’s wife. Especially pleasing is that she is not portrayed as a “goody two shoes.” She has a past which is revealed to readers in this book that is at odds with her faith. She expresses anger as well as a whole litany of other emotions and personality traits that while very human are not usually shown in religious people. This is refreshing.

Also, the book is extremely well written. Readers know early on what the crime is, and there are many hints along the way as to who the killer will turnout to be, but the way the clues are dropped and the story unfolds is just captivating.

The combination of a look into one of the more mysterious religious communities in the United States, a likable yet very human protagonist and strong writing makes His Right Hand a winner. I envision this becoming a long lasting series.

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