Summary and book reviews of A Killing in Zion by Andrew Hunt

A Killing in Zion

An Art Oveson Mystery

by Andrew Hunt

A Killing in Zion by Andrew Hunt
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  • Published:
    Sep 2015, 400 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Donna Chavez

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Book Summary

A deeply researched mystery, A Killing in Zion portrays a city and a religion struggling to grow and shake off a notorious history that has not yet become a thing of the past.

In the scorching, drought-plagued summer of 1934, as wildfires burn across Utah, Detective Lieutenant Art Oveson faces a unique assignment. Salt Lake City's mayor has tapped him to revive the Anti-Polygamy Squad, a unit formed years earlier for the purpose of driving out the city's "plural marriage zealots." As a Mormon ashamed of his own ancestors' part in the church's polygamist past, Art is eager to do his part to flush out the extremists.

Then a local polygamist "prophet" is brutally murdered and a shell-shocked young girl is found at the scene of the crime. Is she the victim's daughter, a child bride, or the murderer herself? Art attempts to investigate the death, as well as discover her identity, despite a "wall of silence" put up by polygamists who would rather mete out their own rough justice. Soon, however, Art discovers that the sect has much more to hide than he thought.

Historian and Hillerman Prize-winning author of City of Saints Andrew Hunt returns to 1930s Salt Lake City in this deeply researched mystery. A Killing in Zion portrays a city and a religion struggling to grow and shake off a notorious history that has not yet become a thing of the past.

One
SATURDAY, JUNE 30, 1934

"Crime does not pay!"

The deep voice belonged to a slick gent in a tuxedo, who seconds earlier had slunk up to a radio microphone on a stand. A blinking light above the stage cued musicians in a cramped orchestra pit. The house lights dimmed as the music swelled. The theme song relied heavily on violins, with a few horns sprinkled in for sinister effect. The packed studio audience included my wife, Clara, and my two children, Sarah Jane, age eleven, and Hyrum, five. Earlier in the afternoon, the show's producer had asked me to sit on a stool by the stage so I could get a choice view of the actors. The show, he informed me, was being "transcribed" (a word radio big shots used for "recorded") for nighttime broadcast coast to coast on the NBC radio network. He asked if I'd be willing to answer a couple of questions at the microphone at the close of the broadcast. I said I'd be happy to do it, but stage fright ate away at my stomach something fierce, and I ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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.   (Reviewed by Donna Chavez).

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There's a quirkiness here that just could make an entertainingly offbeat historical series.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Hunt's excellent second mystery featuring Art Oveson lives up to the promise of his Hillerman Prize-winning debut, City of Saints (2012) ... Readers will cheer a hero who is not only a fine policeman but also a family man with a strong moral compass.

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Beyond the Book

The Shame of the Fathers

In A Killing in Zion, Salt Lake City deputy sheriff Art Oveson is charged with apprehending and arresting members of a Mormon fundamentalist sect who commit the crime of polygamy. But fealty to the law is only part of what drives this Mormon's professional zeal. In his more thoughtful moments Oveson has to admit to himself that he has a deeper, more elemental motivation: "…in my more reflective moments, I was willing to concede that my hatred for the [polygamists] was rooted in my inability to come to terms with the lives of my ancestors. Not so long ago, my great-grandparents on both sides engaged in plural marriage, practicing the same custom as the men I now detested."

This is a slightly different twist on the old fashioned ...

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