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by Mette Ivie Harrison
Soho, December 2018
360 pages
ISBN: 1616959428

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In Mette Ivie Harrison's fourth Linda Wallheim mystery, NOT OF THIS FOLD, the fall season has rolled around, and the bishop's wife, Linda Wallheim is preparing for the coming holidays as best as she can. Her friend Gwen Ferris is losing faith in the church, her openly gay son is starting his mission across the country, her relationship with her husband is rocky, and now she has become involved in the murder of a young, single mother.

Gwen introduced Linda to Gabriela Gonzalez, a mother of three trying to do the best for her children while living in the town's "Spanish Ward." However, Gabriela has been dealing with supposed threats from the ward. At Linda's inquiry, it all appears to be a misunderstanding. Then, Gabriela is discovered murdered behind a gas station. Worse, Gwen feels responsible for her death as she missed a call from Gabriela asking for help.

Linda is reluctant to get involved, but with or without Linda's help, Gwen is determined to solve the murder herself. Following whatever lead they can, the two uncover a scheme far bigger than themselves. Dodging the police, their husbands, and the leaders of the church, can they survive the consequences?

NOT OF THIS FOLD is an easy read, with a slow yet engaging pace. The biggest criticism is that very little seems to be investigated. Many chapters feel as if they are pouring over the same lead with nothing actually being done to solve the case. It's not repetitive, just slow considering how much time passes in the story's timeline. The mystery itself seems easy to solve. We're given enough evidence to join the investigation ourselves, and there are enough twists that you're never too sure who did it until the end. However, the mystery isn't what makes this novel a compelling read. It's the protagonist.

Mixed in with the murder is a look into Linda's family and life at home. Linda is a woman anyone can relate to. Her compassion plays a fundamental role in her investigation and in the developments of her personal relationships throughout the novel. Her worries about her openly gay son, her own struggles with the Mormon patriarchal structure, and her increasingly strained relationship with her husband are all explored, and make you think about all that could have been for Gabriela.

Along with Gabriela, we get to know Gwen and her own struggles with the church as well. While reluctant to interfere with a police investigation, Linda can't help but feel a motherly connection to Gwen and believes she is looking out for her. Her relationship with Gwen is the soul of this novel, providing us deeper insights into Linda, and in the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Having never read a Linda Wallheim mystery before, I expected there would be references I wouldn't understand, or character developments I hadn't seen coming to life. Not to mention my lack of familiarity with the Church of Latter Day Saints. Yet Harrison explains the LDS views and faith without evangelizing and Linda's history and struggles are easily comprehended. Usually, I am a stickler for reading series in order, and I was pleasantly surprised to find I didn't need to here. Moreover, I am curious to read more about Linda, and I fully intend to as soon as I can.

Keshena Hanson recently earned a degree in English from University of Wisconsin - Green Bay, and was published in the University's Sheepshead Review. Her love for mystery started with Blue's Clues, and now she reads any mystery she can get her hands on.

Reviewed by Keshena Hanson, November 2018

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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