Book Review: For Time and All Eternities
This is the third book in the series by Mette Ivie Harrison. The central character, Linda Wallheim, is a feminist-leaning Mormon woman in Utah. Her husband is a bishop and she has a talent for investigating murders. I’m not normally a fan of detective fiction and whodunits, but I have enjoyed all of the books in the series.
One of the best elements of the story is the way in which Harrison reveals the complexities of Mormon life in Utah. Linda Wallheim has to do a lot of careful navigation of religion and culture to be able to investigate, and that creates a lot of weighing of choices and approaches to communication. A recurring theme is that Linda has to negotiate belief, action, and marriage with a husband that sees the LDS Church in simpler, more straightforward terms than she does. The bishop-husband’s loyalty to the Church and love of his wife often come into conflict, and this is an especially important element of this novel.
The first book, The Bishop’s Wife, centers on abuse and domestic violence. His Right Hand deals with gender identity and sexuality, and For Time and All Eternities focuses on polygamy. I don’t wish to give the story away, but Linda Wallheim’s family becomes entangled with a local independent polygamist family. There is a murder and a case of suspected abuse. Linda’s detective instincts compel her to investigate.
In the process, Harrison raises questions about the Exclusion Policy and the history of polygamy in the Mormon tradition. There are shout outs to Mormon LGBT activist Mitch Mayne, BYU-I historian Andrea Radke-Moss, and historian Michael Quinn. I was thrilled to see that the book opens with a poem by fellow Mormon feminist Kristen Shill.
I highly recommend this book and feel that it would be a good read for Mormons and non-Mormons alike. Mainstream Mormon readers might see elements of Utah culture that they have not encountered. For those outside the Church, it offers a view of Mormonism that skips over superficialities and deals directly with the intricacies of everyday Mormon life.