The Mormon Murders was first published in 1988 and I found it on the shelves of my local library. I was horrified but also intrigued by the true crime story of Mark Hofman who is still serving a sentence for manslaughter in the US. The subtitle of the book is A True Story of Greed, Forgery, Deceit and Death. The subtitle isn't lying; The Mormon Murders has it all. Mark Hofman is a young, Mormon rare documents dealer, specializing in those that interest the Mormon Church (Latter Day Saints). He lives with his wife and children in Salt Lake City, the urban centre of the Mormon faith. On Oct. 15, 1985, a pipe bomb packed with nails explodes, killing Steve Christensen, a local businessman. Two hours later, Cathy Sheets, mother and grandmother, is killed by a similar explosion in a quiet Salt Lake City Suburb. The next day, Mark Hofman barely escapes the same fate as a pipe bomb goes off in his car. He is rushed to hospital.
Then the twisted tale starts. The police, FBI, and the Church are interested in what happened. All three victims are members of the Mormon Church. Some police officers, FBI agents, and lawyers in the District Attorney's Office also belong to the Latter Day Saints faith. All kinds of obstacles face the investigators. The Church officials have a vested interest in keeping certain historical events Church secrets.
Mark Hofman trained himself to be a master forger and took advantage of his Mormon connections to sell the Church and true believer "original" documents. Some, supposedly authored by Joseph Smith, the founder, himself. The Church cannot let certain damaging documents become public. Amazingly Mark Hofman finds these and sells them to the Church to be locked away in the Vault. When Hofman gets too greedy, the whole scheme starts to unravel.
If you are looking for a fascinating read and would like a true story for a change, The Mormon Murders does it in spades.
Below is a picture of one of Hofman's forgeries- The Anton Transcript.
So Much for That is a dark novel. It examines the effects of serious illness on marriages while indicting the American lack of univeral health care. Shepard Armstrong Knacker's wife, Glynis, has mesolithemia, a rare cancer of the thin membranes covering most organs. Glynis' prognosis is poor and although Shep has insurance, it doesn't nearly cover all of her treatments. Their good friends, Carol and Jackson, have a daughter with the genetic disorder, dysautonmia. Flicka's disease is disabling, painful and humiliating. Her prognosis is equally dire.
The novel opens with Glynis' diagnosis and things just go downhill. In both marriages, the severe diseases shape the relationships and gut their finances. Even though both Jackson and Shep's families are covered by health insurance through their employer, the coverage is spotty; not everything is covered and to get the money or portion thereof, that they are entitled to, is a full-time job. There are so many hoops to jump through, phone calls to make, and forms to fill in. A small error at any point postpones coverage. They have to pay out-of-pocket. The stress and financial burdens take their toll. So Much for That isn't an easy book to read, yet I was compelled to keep turning the pages. Although the end a little polly-anna, after all of the horror that preceded it, it provided relief from all that darkness.
Sharp Objects is Gillian Flynn's 2006 debut novel. It follows the story of Camille Preaker who has recently be released from treatment in a mental facility. A friend and editor, Frank Curry, gives her a job as a reporter at Chicago's fourth largest paper, Daily Post. Like all papers, Daily Post, is in a fight to the death for subscribers. When a young girl is murdered in Camille's home town of Wind Gap, Missouri, in the previous August and then a second goes missing, Curry sees a chance for an old-time scoop.
He sends Camille home. Her mother still lives in a kind of grandeur afforded to her as owner of the local hog slaughtering plant. There is a 13 year-old-half sister and the ghost of Marian, the sister who died. All kinds of small town resentments, feuds and mysteries inhabit Sharp Objects. The missing girl is found murdered and although the secrets and shadows from the past haunt her, Camille stays to unravel her personal tragedy and the tragedy of the murders. Their intricate intertwining makes this a thriller to enjoy.
Gillian Flynn is better known as the author of Gone Girl. Sharp Objects is more interesting and a more nuanced book.
I am an avid reader and like to share some of my "finds" with others.