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A Killing in Zion (Art Oveson) by Andrew Hunt
Cover Artist: Photo with permission from Utah State Historical Society
Review by Joseph B. Hoyos
Minotaur Books Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9781250064622
Date: 08 September 2015 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Facebook / Show Official Info /

Detective Arthur Oveson is in charge of Salt Lake City's Anti-Polygamy Squad. He is maintaining constant surveillance on elderly LeGrand Johnston who is the head of the world's largest polygamist sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Saints; it is a break-away offshoot of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. One night, while visiting his house of worship, LeGrand and his chauffeur are shot to death. Arthur finds a young mute girl hiding in a closet; she is suspected of killing the two men. In an effort to clear her name, Arthur and his rebellious employee, Roscoe Lund, travel to Dixie City, an extremely corrupt polygamist city. Arthur and the entire Anti-Polygamy Squad risk their lives to destroy an evil cult responsible for the enslavement and deaths of many of its members.

I was thrilled to discover that Andrew Hunt's A Killing in Zion outshines his award-winning debut, City of Saints. Arthur Oveson's investigation of LeGrand Johnston's murder leads him to an extremely bizarre town, Dixie City, where its inhabitants appear to be living in a different time period with their antiquated clothing.

This novel reminded me of those horror movies of the seventies and eighties where the hero discovers a small, isolated town where everyone is guarding a horrible secret. The strange citizens are all witches or werewolves or vampires or the husbands are killing their wives and turning them into androids. Don't worry, the horrors that abound in Dixie City don't involve the supernatural. However, there is a group of perverse, diabolical men who perform monstrous acts of cruelty.

Arthur Oveson has just returned from Hollywood, California, where he has been immortalized on a radio show for having captured the Running Board Bandit. He has a lovely wife, Clara, and two small children, Sara Jane (eleven) and Hyrum (five). He puts their lives in danger when he invites a mute girl (name unknown) to live with them. She is a suspect in a double homicide. Readers will fall in love with the Oveson clan. I have more respect and understanding for the Mormons after reading City of Saints and A Killing in Zion. I don't agree with everything about the Mormon religion. That is fine. I'm sure Mormons don't agree with everything about my Baptist beliefs. However, we are all commanded by a higher authority to respect and love one another.

In this novel, the Fundamentalist Church of Saints is a radical group of Mormons. They remind me of ISIS, which is a radical group of Muslims. Many Muslims are unfairly judged and condemned because of public outrage against radical groups such as ISIS. Not all Mormons are polygamists who murder those who try to oppose them. Arthur Oveson and his anti-polygamy squad risk their lives to battle an entire town comprised of a sect of radical Mormons. While reading A Killing in Zion, I often thought the novel was misnamed. There are many killings in Zion. A lot of innocent people have been killed or have disappeared, assumed dead, probably buried somewhere in the bleak desert landscape.

Andrew Hunt's A Killing in Zion is an excellent historical novel that both shocked and horrified me. I guess I expected it to be more along the lines of a cozy tea parlor mystery rather than the horrifying bloodbath that it actually turned into. This novel is fast-paced and action packed with plenty of twists. It is also loaded with believable characters, some that I loved and some that I detested. I felt pain and anguish when a few characters met with gruesome deaths. I'm not exaggerating "gruesome". There are some creative murders. In fact, the entire novel is quite creative, and thought-provoking. I can't wait for Hunt's next novel in the Arthur Oveson series.

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