The Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie HarrisonThe Bishop's Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison

The Bishop's Wife

byMette Ivie Harrison

Hardcover | May 30, 2017

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In the Mormon community of Draper, Utah, seemingly perfect families have deadly secrets.

Linda Wallheim is a devout Mormon, the mother of five boys and the wife of a bishop. But Linda is increasingly troubled by her church’s structure and secrecy, especially as a disturbing situation takes shape in her ward. One cold winter night, a young wife and mother named Carrie Helm disappears, leaving behind everything she owns. Carrie’s husband, Jared, claims his wife has always been unstable and that she has abandoned the family, but Linda doesn’t trust him. As Linda snoops in the Helm family’s circumstances, she becomes convinced that Jared has murdered his wife and painted himself as a wronged husband.

Linda’s husband asks her not to get involved in the unfolding family saga. But Linda has become obsessed with Carrie’s fate, and with the well-being of her vulnerable young daughter. She cannot let the matter rest until she finds out the truth. Is she wrong to go against her husband, the bishop, when her inner convictions are so strong?

Inspired by a chilling true crime and written by a practicing Mormon, The Bishop’s Wife is both a fascinating look at the lives of modern Mormons as well as a grim and cunningly twisted mystery.
Mette Ivie Harrison is the author of three other novels in the Linda Wallheim mystery series, His Right Hand, For Time and All Eternities, and Not of This Fold, as well as numerous books for young adults. She holds a PhD in German literature from Princeton University and is a nationally ranked triathlete. A member of the Church of J...
Title:The Bishop's WifeFormat:HardcoverProduct dimensions:352 pages, 8.55 × 5.83 × 1.18 inShipping dimensions:8.55 × 5.83 × 1.18 inPublished:May 30, 2017Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1616954760

ISBN - 13:9781616954765


Rated 2 out of 5 by from a vacation read This book doesn't require much thought, even in solving the murder, so good for a vacation read. I was hoping for more insights from the point of view of the author (a Mormon) on the (Mormon) Bishop's Wife.
Date published: 2018-03-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Didn't really enjoy this book Although the actual story was interesting enough, I found the protagonist to be entirely too self-absorbed for my taste and too smug in her belief that she should be able to interfere in any way she wants - despite being wrong on more than once occasion.
Date published: 2015-02-03

Read from the Book

Chapter 1   Mormon bishop’s wife isn’t an official calling. “Bishop’s wife” isn’t a position listed on ward documents; there’s no ceremonial laying-on of hands or pronounced blessings from on high. But if the bishop is the father of the ward, the bishop’s wife is the mother, and that meant there were five hundred people who were under my care. I was used to the phone calls in the middle of the night, to the doorbell ringing far too late and far too early. I was used to being looked past, because I was never the person that they were there to see.          This morning at the six thirty doorbell, I shook Kurt. “They’ll be wanting the bishop,” I said. I was already out of bed and putting on my robe.         “I’ll be there as soon as I can, Linda,” he said sleepily. He hadn’t been to bed before midnight last night, I was sure. I hurried downstairs, sure that something terrible had happened. It was late January in Draper, Utah, and as picturesque as the snow on the mountains was, it did not mix well with our modern lifestyle. My fear as I stood hesitating at the door was that someone was here to tell us that a teenager from the ward had skidded off the road and was on his way to the hospital. The doorbell rang again, and then the door was knocked on, impatiently.         When I finally opened the door, I saw Jared Helm, one of the newer members of the ward, carrying his five-year-old daughter, Kelly. She had curly blonde hair that always seemed messy, no matter how often it was combed. The remains of breakfast (oatmeal) were all over her chin. She was still in her pajamas, but she’d been bundled into an inside-out snowsuit. How her father had figured out how to get the zipper up without putting it on the right way around, I didn’t know.         “Can I see Bishop Wallheim?” asked Jared.         Not an accident, then, I thought with relief. “Come in from the cold. He’s awake, and he’ll be down in a minute,” I assured Jared. So would Samuel, the youngest of my five sons, who was a senior in high school; I could hear his alarm going off upstairs and knew he’d be rushing out the door soon.         I led Jared and Kelly to the front room, where my neglected piano waited for me to practice. Mostly, the room was used now for people waiting to go into Kurt’s office.         Jared Helm looked terribly strained, though he was well-kempt. His hair was darker than his daughter’s, but it was clear where she got the messy mop. His was wet now, the curls ruthlessly combed around a side part. He was dressed in a button-down striped shirt, cable sweater, and neatly pressed khakis. I wondered if his wife did that pressing or if he did it himself.         I wished I knew the Helms better, but I had only a general impression that he and his wife were unhappy, although devoted parents to Kelly, and that they were struggling financially, as a lot of people in the ward were currently. Maybe he was here because he was in money trouble? Kurt could send him to the bishop’s storehouse for some basic food supplies, but many people were unwilling to take that kind of help. The stigma wasn’t insignificant. More often, people wanted Kurt to write them a check.         I got out a toy for Kelly to play with, but she held it limply in her hands, uninterested. They were all trucks and building toys, things my sons had enjoyed. I’d never had a chance to build a collection of toys for girls, though I sometimes imagined what I would have bought for a daughter. Dolls? Faux cooking supplies and a tiny stove?         I found a picture book and read it quietly to her, but after several pages I put it down. Kelly’s eyes were wandering all over the room. I finally sat her on my lap and let her plunk on the piano keys, which she seemed to enjoy. None of my boys had been interested at this age, except for Samuel.         But after a few minutes, Kelly’s piano playing earned the attention of her father, who had been staring silently at his lap. “Stop that noise,” he snapped. “You know how to behave better than that.” He didn’t seem to see me at all.         The little girl immediately went still and folded her hands together. The moment Jared looked away, Kelly slipped her thumb into her mouth, her eyes intent on her father, and I had the sense that she would be in trouble if he caught her doing that, too.         I moved slightly to the side, protecting Kelly from her father’s critical gaze with my body, and I thought, as I so often did, about the daughter I had lost. Too often, I knew I judged other parents for not treating a daughter as I imagined I would have treated mine, had she lived.         I could hear Kurt’s feet thumping on the floor of the bathroom. He was out of the shower. “The bishop will be down in just a minute, I’m sure,” I said again to Jared. It wouldn’t take Kurt long to dress. He had become quite efficient at putting on his daily suit. He didn’t used to wear one to work every day, but since he became bishop last year, it had seemed that there was no time when he could wear casual clothes.         Samuel rushed past Jared Helm and out the front door, hair still wet, a piece of bread between his teeth. “Love you, Mom,” he mumbled as he headed out to the bus stop.         “Love you,” I said, still seated with Kelly on my lap. I gave up on the hope of giving my son a hug and kiss goodbye this morning. He wasn’t exactly unwelcoming if I was waiting by the door and it was easy for him to stoop over me, but he wouldn’t kiss or hug me back.         After Samuel had gone, I noticed that Jared was wiping tears from his eyes. He was in distress, that much was obvious. Where was his wife? If this was a financial problem, as I had first thought, why weren’t they here together? I had seen Carrie Helm last Sunday at church and she had been sitting a clear distance from her husband, with Kelly between them. It had been obvious that they were in the midst of an argument, but I hadn’t thought much of it at the time. Married couples fight.         Carrie Helm was one of the voices I most enjoyed in Relief Society, the church women’s group. Carrie was intelligent and she wasn’t afraid of saying something that might sound controversial. She was earnest about what she said, too, and didn’t do it purely for the sake of causing a stir. But I’d always had the feeling her husband’s viewpoints were more conservative than hers, and had wondered how that affected their marriage.         Last week in Sunday School, with Jared sitting beside her, Carrie had made a comment about the priesthood not belonging to men, but rather being God’s power that men had access to. Jared’s expression was livid. He’d leaned over and whispered something to her, and after that, I saw her flinch when he tried to touch her. Four days later, and apparently Jared Helm had still not apologized to her sufficiently.         And now he sat here crying silently in the hall at 6:50 on a Thursday morning. “Are you hungry?” I asked. “I can get you something to eat.” Food is the first thing we Mormons tend to offer. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it doesn’t, but the offer is a way of showing concern, at least.         “No, thank you,” said Jared, clearing his throat. “I’m fine.”         “I’m hungry,” said Kelly, taking her thumb out of her mouth.         “You don’t need to eat again. I already fed you breakfast at home.”         Kelly looked at her thumb and said nothing.         “Growing children are always hungry,” I said. “I don’t mind fixing her something. It will make me feel useful.” I put Kelly down, covering up the hand with the damp thumb as I led her into the kitchen.         “Behave yourself, Kelly,” said Jared.         I wasn’t sure if he was always like this with her or if he was simply overly anxious about being in someone else’s home. I hoped it was the latter, and I could show him that I didn’t mind the trouble.         In the kitchen, I set Kelly on a stool by the counter and set out six separate jams for her to choose from as I made toast. A few minutes later, I heard Kurt come downstairs. He spoke briefly to Jared in the front room, then invited him into his office. I breathed relief and focused my attention on Kelly. After she had chosen a separate jam for each slice of toast and worked through three full pieces, the little girl drank a glass of milk and burped.         “Are you too hot? Maybe I could help you get that snowsuit off,” I offered.         “Daddy put it on wrong,” said Kelly, glancing in the direction her father had gone, as if she wanted to make sure he couldn’t hear her.         “I can see that,” I said, fighting a smile.         “Mommy never puts it on wrong, but Daddy always does.”          I smiled at the echo of Carrie’s spunky attitude. “Daddies are sometimes good at other things,” I said.         “I know. But Daddy says Mommy is bad,” said Kelly. Her lips quivered. “He says that I shouldn’t want her.”         “But all little girls want their mothers,” I said. “Of course they do.” Was Kelly telling me that her mother had left them? I supposed this was the answer to the question of why Jared was here. Poor Jared. Poor Carrie. But most of all, poor Kelly. The children were the ones who always suffered the most when parents had problems. “Your daddy loves you very much,” I said.         Kelly put her hands to her hair. “He forgot to brush me,” she said.         “Well, let’s deal with that right now,” I said, and led Kelly to the upstairs bathroom. I didn’t have any ribbons or hair elastics suitable for a young girl, but I used what I could. In the end, the hair was well brushed, and I had a few tiny braids in it that were holding. By the time her father came out of Kurt’s office downstairs, Kelly was giggling and making faces at herself in the mirror.         But then Jared called for his daughter and Kelly tensed, all the happiness erased from her face. Just like her mother at church last week. What was going on here? I’d thought it was simply a case of an unhappy marriage, but was it more serious than that?         “I have to obey Daddy,” said Kelly.         “Yes,” I said, and led her downstairs to her father’s arms.         Jared didn’t say a word to her or to me, simply took his daughter and left.         Kurt closed the door behind them.         “Can you tell me anything?” I asked. Most of the secrets Kurt found out were to be held in confidence, but there isn’t the same kind of strictness in a Mormon bishop’s counseling session as there is with Catholic confession.         Kurt shrugged. “It will come out soon enough. Carrie has left him.”         “Last night? Did they have an argument? Why he didn’t come then?”         “Apparently she left him in the night. He woke up and found her gone. She left a note saying she wasn’t coming back.”         “I’m surprised she left Kelly,” I said. I was more than surprised. I was in knots about it. A mother leaving a child, it was—unfathomable to me. What pain had she been in? What had she been thinking? It was one thing to file for divorce and to ask your husband to leave the house. Or even to take your daughter and find an apartment. To leave her behind, and in the middle of the night without a proper goodbye . . . I shivered.         “It’s hard to know what goes on in the mind of a woman,” said Kurt.         I hated when Kurt said things like that. “It is not that hard. Women are just as sensible as men,” I said. “If you understand what their lives are like.”         “Then how could she leave her daughter? I never would have thought it of Carrie Helm, of all people. She loved that little girl so much.”         Yes, she had. She had always walked Kelly to Primary and made sure she had a big hug. “She might not have felt she had any choice.” It was the only answer I could think of. Kurt, as bishop, was the one who should know more of the inner workings of their relationship than I did. But then again, Carrie and Jared had never come to see him together, so now all he would have was Jared’s side of the story. Jared had a calling as an instructor in the elders quorum and fulfilled it faithfully every month. As far as Kurt was concerned, he was the one who was reliable and trustworthy.         “I asked him if there was any hope they might still reconcile. I wish they had come to see me earlier. I might have been able to help.” He looked toward the kitchen, the smell of toast and jam drawing him, and we moved in that direction. I put new toast in the toaster and he got out a plate.         Along with his big appetite, Kurt had enormous faith in the power of prayer. He thought any marriage could be saved with enough work and help from God. I am sad to say I am not as believing. Some marriages aren’t meant to last, and it was quite possible that Jared and Carrie Helm’s was one of these. They did not seem like a particularly good match. There were marriages that worked despite disparities in character, but not many.         “He said she was very final about it. She said she was never coming back. He thinks there may be another man involved.”         “I see,” I said. If Carrie Helm had realized how mismatched she and Jared were, and she’d found someone who was less of a mismatch—well, it almost explained things. It was selfish, but people are sometimes selfish. Sometimes even mothers. Perhaps mothers especially, since they spent so much time being unselfish.         “He’s going to have to deal with divorce papers and child care issues, along with custody agreements,” Kurt was saying as he opened his favorite jam jars and began to stir the contents. Why he did that, I never knew. “But he wasn’t up for talking about any of that. He just wanted to hear me say that he wasn’t to blame for what had happened, and that God still had good things for his future.”         Well, I was glad that Kurt hadn’t insisted on reconciliation, as most bishops would have felt obliged to do to keep the family together. “Poor Kelly,” I said.         “The whole ward will have to band together to help Jared and Kelly. She’ll need a lot of substitute mothers.” Kurt was looking at me then. I would do what I could, of course, but I wasn’t sure I knew what Kelly needed.         “I’d like to talk to Carrie. Do you think Jared might have a number for her?” I asked.         Kurt shook his head. “He said she didn’t leave any way of contacting her. We’ll have to wait and see what happens in the next few days.” He stopped short of saying he hoped that she came back, and that all of this could still be fixed.         “Carrie is a good woman,” I said, hoping it was true. I had thought I knew her, but obviously I had not known her well enough.         “Well, I suppose God can find good in any of us,” said Kurt. That was as close as he came to saying he considered this situation to be Carrie’s fault.         Didn’t he remember those years when I had been at home with all five boys, Adam, Joseph, Kenneth, Zachary, and baby Samuel? I had never said it aloud, but there were times when I had had fantasies of walking away, going out and getting a job, finding a life of my own again, where I wasn’t on call twenty-four hours a day and responsible for tiny lives. It was too much for any one person. Maybe more so for someone who had reconciled herself to not being married and never having children. And then Kurt had come along and changed all my plans, made me believe again I could have the whole Mormon dream. Husband. Children. Temple sealing. And all that went with it. We lived in a city that had once been known for the state prison at the point of the mountain and was now known for the Mormon temple that had just been built. But it seemed that the Mormon plan of happiness with a perfect family full of forgiveness hadn’t worked out as well for Carrie Helm.

Editorial Reviews

Praise for The Bishop's WifeA National BestsellerAn ABA IndieNext Selection for January 2015An ABA IndieBound BestsellerA PLA LibraryReads Selection for January 2015A Publishers Weekly Most Anticipated Book of Fall 2014“The Bishop’s Wife has good reason to draw a large readership. It places heavy emphasis on domestic abuse and on the question of how dangerous fire-breathing extremists really are. The man who inveighs against women as whores and sinners may or may not be anything worse than a crank. The man who speaks sanctimoniously of them may be much worse . . . That’s why Ms. Harrison’s Linda is such a welcome character: In her role as Sister Wallheim, she encourages women to speak freely, at least to her, and to escape the shame that has burdened some of them since childhood."—Janet Maslin, The New York Times"Sane, wise, likable . . . [The] solution is nicely surprising, and Linda has an engrossing voice, at once modest and assured."—Charles Finch, USA Today"Excellent . . . Watching Linda Wallheim take on the church and its entitled male members as she unravels the mystery of Carrie's and Helena's disappearances is one of the chief pleasures of this richly detailed debut." —Los Angeles Times “Critically acclaimed author Mette Ivie Harrison's mystery debut is an insider's nuanced look at the workings of the Mormon church. Beautifully written, and spellbinding in its unflinching examination of marriage, family and faith, The Bishop's Wife is an absolute must-read!”—Julia Spencer-Fleming, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Through the Evil Days"Eye-opening . . . A novel so far from my reality I needed a telescope, but I think that's why I enjoyed this debut so much."—Carole E. Barrowman, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel"Intelligent and wry. In Linda’s dealings with her husband’s flock, author Mette Ivie Harrison gives us a rare neutral treatment of Mormonism . . . Refreshing." —The Raleigh News & Observer"Poses interesting questions about community in scenes that unfold against local backdrops."—The Salt Lake City Tribune"A novel so far from my reality I needed a telescope, but I think that’s why I liked it . . .  Gives an insider’s view of a patriarchal community where strict adherence to God’s rule is the path to an afterlife (with a similar patriarchy). While investigating the disappearance of a neighbor, Linda confronts the sins of her community." —Minneapolis Star Tribune"[The] Linda Wallheim novels are worth reading, and not only for their uncompromising plot lines and compelling conclusions. They should raise important and necessary questions about Mormonism itself in every thinking Mormon’s mind." —Association for Mormon Letters “Set against the unusual backdrop of a tight-knit Mormon congregation, The Bishop’s Wife is both a terrific crime novel and a wrenching story of faith, doubt, and personal tragedy.”—Michael Wallace, Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of The Righteous“Don't be deceived by the unassuming heroine and quiet start of The Bishop's Wife. In this gripping and contemplative mystery, a woman who most people would identify as living an ordinary life discovers she is the only one willing to pursue a dangerous puzzle. As she uncovers layers of deceit she struggles to remain true to her deeply courageous self.” —Kate Elliott, bestselling author of the Spiritwalker Trilogy"Harrison has an eye like a Nikon camera and an educated ear. I was amazed at her perfect pitch in her choice of words and gestures . . . Her book will do well nationally. It may even spawn a series of mysteries starring the bold and benevolent bishop’s wife. But will the book be too tart for conventional LDS tastes?" —The Deseret News"As the author offers insight into the patriarchal structure of the Mormon Church, readers also are introduced to a strong woman who strives to bring justice to those who are wronged."—Missourian"A great mystery . . . A novel that’s well worth reading, either all night long or during a particularly boring Sacrament meeting."—Standard-Examiner"With a plot that is ripped from the headlines and an insightful look into Mormon culture, The Bishop's Wife is the perfect combination of mystery and intrigue."—"A bit like an Agatha Christie mystery: a missing woman, a detestable husband, and a little girl caught in the balance . . . The Bishop’s Wife takes readers behind the glossy exterior of the Mormon Church and directly into the Bishop’s private—and not-so-private—home and office." —Salt Lake Magazine"A very intriguing and captivating mystery . . . [I] just wanted to read it without stopping." —Fresh Fiction "Harrison carefully crafts the clues to lead organically to a big plot twist and a change in direction later in the book that feels earned and believable. Not every writer is skilled enough to pull that off!" —Unshelved "Even without the two mysteries the book would have been an interesting read as readers follow Linda's struggles with her faith . . . Because of the broader scope of this book, I would strongly recommend the book for book groups—the discussions could last a lifetime."—Reviewing the Evidence"I highly recommend The Bishop’s Wife as a great work of women’s fiction. It would be an excellent choice for a book club as Mette Ivie Harrison digs deep into issues that face all women providing substantial material for discussion."—Luxury Reading"Do not avoid reading this book because you fear being bogged down by theological rambling. You won't be. Instead you'll be drawn into a story about a very interesting woman whose conscience will not let her stand idly by. Like so many other characters in crime fiction, Linda will not rest until she's found the truth." —Kittling Books"One of those stories you can’t stop reading until you find out what happens next . . . Harrison weaves a tale of deception and treachery that takes the reader on a twisting and mysterious path."—Oceana Herald-Journal“A wonderfully written mystery . . . The Bishop’s Wife is not only a great story, but a revealing look at Mormonism and its followers.”—New York Journal of Books"Harrison makes her adult debut with a stunning contemporary mystery set in Mormon country . . . [She] easily transports readers into a world most will find as unfamiliar as a foreign country."—Publishers Weekly, STARRED Review"The mystery surrounding Carrie drives the plot, but Linda herself is the most compelling thing about young adult author Harrison’s debut adult mystery about a world she knows well." —Booklist, STARRED Review"Adds twists aplenty to an insider's look at a religion replete with its own mysteries."—Kirkus Reviews"A novel that is comfortable with leaving us uncomfortable. Or, rather, that manages to leave us comfortable in our discomfort. Which is to say that I found The Bishop’s Wife an honest book."—A Motley Vision"Turns a critical eye toward some long-held norms of a historically patriarchal religion. Throw in a wickedly twisted mystery—actually, two—and you have the makings of a page-turner that is revealing and thought-provoking."—The Hutchinson News