BookBrowse Reviews A Killing in Zion by Andrew Hunt

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

A Killing in Zion

An Art Oveson Mystery

by Andrew Hunt

A Killing in Zion by Andrew Hunt X
A Killing in Zion by Andrew Hunt
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    Sep 2015, 400 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez
Buy This Book

About this Book



A mysterious sect in the heart of Utah anchors this immensely readable police procedural.

Some authors excel at crafting compelling historical fiction, others at building, brick-by-brick, gripping mystery/police procedural plots. Andrew Hunt is crackerjack at both. What's more, in an era of fatally flawed protagonist detectives Hunt gives us a man who is as wholesome as – but no less nuanced than – mother's homemade apple pie.

Maybe it's because in 1930s Salt Lake City, Utah there was such a thing as a healthy work-life balance, but Mormon lawman Art Oveson is genuinely dedicated to his family and his community. Sure, since being promoted to head the sheriff's Anti-Polygamy Squad, he is spending longer hours trailing the leader of a notorious Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints (FLDS) sect in hopes of catching him with two or more of the man's several wives. But Art's heart is thoroughly invested in his wife Clara, their two children and his hometown. Here lies True North on his moral compass, his raison d'être.

Salt Lake City, with streets so wide that back in pioneer times a team of four oxen pulling a covered wagon could make a U-turn with room to spare. Salt Lake City, home to ice cream parlors, movie palaces, and the most majestic state capitol building in the country, at the top of a hill overlooking the valley. Salt Lake City, where trolley bells rang like the heartbeat of a vibrant commercial center that a mere hundred years ago was uninhabited scrub…it [was] part of me, and I part of it.

It's only been a little more than a generation since leaders of the Mormon Church forsook polygamy so that Utah could become a part of the United States, and Art is convinced it was the right move. Plural marriage is flat out illegal and the very notion that this so-called FLDS "prophet" LeGrand Johnston is flagrantly breaking the law not only of the land but of the Mormon Church just gets under Art's skin: "They're deviants. They make a mockery of all the things I hold sacred. Marriage. Family. Religion. They rule by fear. Nobody in those families dares to step out of line."

So Art is determined to bring every one of these outliers to justice. Before he gets that chance, however, somebody murders the sect leader and his driver. Art is first on the scene and quickly discovers a young girl – not more than fourteen – cowering in a closet. She seems struck mute by the horror she has apparently just witnessed and is no help in identifying the killer/s. Who is this child and why doesn't/can't she speak or communicate in any way? The mystery has just doubled.

Then, like a guru dropping charms on a path to enlightenment Hunt reveals each new facet of the corrupt sect at a deliberate, steady pace; the appalling greed, fraud, murder, even pedophilia, one bit at a time. Before long you're so engrossed you can't stop reading any more than Art Oveson can stop pushing the limits of his authority to save the girl, solve the murders and rain down justice on the sordid religious sect.

Reading the final satisfying page was tinged with mild disappointment because I would no longer be able to hear those trolley bells. I guess I will just have to wait for Art Oveson's next assignment.

Reviewed by Donna Chavez

This review is from the October 7, 2015 issue of BookBrowse Recommends. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  The Shame of the Fathers

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Fake Like Me
    Fake Like Me
    by Barbara Bourland
    After years of trying to make it as a painter in New York City, the unnamed narrator of Fake Like Me...
  • Book Jacket: Hungry
    by Jeff Gordinier
    Noma, René Redzepi's restaurant in Copenhagen, Denmark, has widely been considered among the ...
  • Book Jacket: With the Fire on High
    With the Fire on High
    by Elizabeth Acevedo
    From Like Water for Chocolate to Ratatouille, writers have recognized the power ...
  • Book Jacket: Lanny
    by Max Porter
    At once beautifully poignant and hauntingly grotesque, Max Porter's Lanny is like an unexpected ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Beirut Hellfire Society
    by Rawi Hage

    A searing and visionary novel set in 1970s Beirut that asks what it means to live through war.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club
Book Jacket
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake

"An American epic in the truest sense…"
Entertainment Weekly

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win In the Full Light of the Sun

New from Clare Clark!

"Evocative prose and excellent pacing make this fine historical a must-read for art history buffs."
- Publishers Weekly


Word Play

Solve this clue:

A A A Day K T D A

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.