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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Mormon Desperate Housewives Mystery Not As Intriguing As It Sounds

(Image from Deseret Book)

Kallene Ashton, a 29-year-old graphic designer, loves her cozy neighborhood in the southeast end of the Salt Lake Valley.  Her house is spacious, the views from the deck are breathtaking, and she's made some good friends on her street.  It's one of these friends—stay-at-home mom Linda Longdale—who's got Kallene feeling worried.  Not only did Linda confide in Kallene about her impending divorce, but now she's gone missing, leaving behind an angry husband and a distraught toddler.  Maybe Linda just needed some time away, but the longer she's gone, the more Kallene fears she's come to some kind of harm.  

When Linda's dead body is discovered off the canyon trail where Kallene and Linda liked to jog, the question becomes:  What happened to Linda?  Who killed her?  And why?  As Kallene searches for the answer, prying into the secret lives of the neighbors she thought she knew, she makes some startling discoveries.  Her sniffing around turns up some intriguing possibilities, but it also means she's on the killer's radar—and just might be his/her next victim.  Can Kallene solve the mystery of her friend's death in time to save herself?  Or will her days of running in the canyon end with her own body broken and discarded in the underbrush?

After my husband read If I Should Die by Jennie Hansen, he described it as a "Mormon Desperate Housewives."  Since I kind of love that idea (I mean, how many times have you wondered if your totally-together Relief Society president or your perfect Peter Priesthood neighbor was hiding a deep, dark secret?), I was excited to read If I Should Die.  Then, I actually read it and ... yeah.  Despite the intriguing Desperate Housewives vibe, the novel's another run-of-the-mill Mormon mystery.  It's not just predictable (I knew the murderer the minute I "met" her/him and I'm usually clueless when it comes to guessing whodunit), it's also far-fetched and poorly constructed.  The characters are cliché, the dialogue is stiff, the red herrings way too obvious.  Altogether, a disappointing read.  A bummer, too, because I really do like the idea of a Mormon Desperate Housewives.  I just know my R.S. president's hiding something.  No one can be that sweet, spiritual and giving ...

A funny:  In reading (well, skimming) Jennie Hansen's blog, I've come to the conclusion that she and I have completely different tastes.  Her opinions on the Whitney finalists are pretty much the opposite of mine.  So, maybe it stands to reason that I didn't care for her book—she probably wouldn't care for one I wrote either!

(Readalikes:  Nothing comes to mind.)

Grade:  D

If this were a movie, it would be rated:  PG for violence and mature subject matter (including child neglect/abuse)

To the FTC, with love:  I bought If I Should Die from Deseret Book with a portion of the millions I make from my lucrative career as a book blogger.  Ha ha.

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