The Bishop’s Wife

Image of The Bishop's Wife (Linda Wallheim)
Release Date: 
December 30, 2014
Soho Crime
Reviewed by: 

a wonderfully written mystery . . . The Bishop’s Wife is not only a great story, but a revealing look at Mormonism and its followers.”

Mette Ivie Harrison is the author of numerous books for young adults. She holds a PhD in German literature from Princeton University. An active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Mette has served as Gospel Doctrine teacher, as a member of the Primary Presidency, as an aid for an autistic child, as a primary instructor, and as a leader for eight-to-eleven-year-old girls. Currently, Mette works in her ward nursery and her husband serves with the scouts. She lives in Utah with her husband and five children.

It’s necessary that readers understand Mette Harrison’s background to fully appreciate the story she calls The Bishop’s Wife. With her access to and knowledge of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the novel could be mistaken for nonfiction since it gives the reader an insider’s look at the machinations of the Mormon religion.

The book’s protagonist, Linda Wallheim, is the wife of the ward’s bishop and mother of five boys. She is a strong-willed woman, often at odds with her husband’s power and influence. Linda is also very curious and sometimes acts on her gut feelings before thinking things through. At times, her instincts lead her in the wrong direction, as is the case of a missing woman named Carrie Helm. Carrie’s husband, Jared, seems to be involved in some way with his wife’s disappearance and Linda is determined to prove that point.

Linda’s husband, the bishop, asks her not to get involved in the Helms’ private affairs; however, Linda disregards his request and becomes a quasi-private investigator. Her pursuit of the truth raises more questions than answers and uncovers the missing wife’s seedy past, which no one knows about.

While Linda looks for answers, she becomes increasingly critical of the men in the church. She questions their beliefs about family matters as she discovers incidents of child abuse, incest, and even murder.

The book is a wonderfully written mystery with all the plot twists, red herrings, and a cast of complex characters mystery readers thirst for. It’s the quintessential page-turner. Just when it appears the crime has been solved and the bad guy identified, the author throws a curve ball and makes the reader swing and miss.

There are some very sad and poignant moments when Linda recalls losing her baby daughter. The author uses her own experience of losing a daughter to create a sense of realism. And the disappearance of Carrie Helm is based on the real-life disappearance of Susan Powell, a Mormon wife who went missing in December of 2009.

The Bishop’s Wife is not only a great story, but a revealing look at Mormonism and its followers.