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Gnarly1

Sacramento, CA USA
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3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-16-15

Mormonism Meets Murder She Wrote - Kinda, Sorta

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

If that person is a Mormon or an ex-Mormon, yes. To others only if they are interested in a "under the hood" look at modern Mormonism.

If you’ve listened to books by Mette Ivie Harrison before, how does this one compare?

This is the first book by her that I have listened to.

Which character – as performed by Kirsten Potter – was your favorite?

Linda Wallheim.

Do you think The Bishop's Wife needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

This book is the first of a series. Ms. Harrison will have to be more creative with her plots in order for the franchise to attract a durable fan base.

Any additional comments?

A young LDS wife goes missing, leaving behind her husband and five year old daughter. Has she been kidnapped? Down the street a respected Mormon elder dies. He leaves behind a skeleton buried in the garden. Was he a murderer? Both were members of a Mormon “ward” in Draper, Utah. Who better to solve these mysteries than Linda Wallheim, the middle-aged mother of five boys who lives in the neighborhood and is the wife of the ward’s bishop?

This is the first "adult" novel by Mett Ivie Harrison, a practicing Mormon and herself the mother of five. This is not really a murder mystery. It's about a Mormon wife who is obliged to fulfill her role as a dutiful spouse to a Mitt Romneyesque husband. He perfectly fits the stereotype of the Mormon male. He is stolid, taciturn and bland. He presides over his flock by the book. In turn, Linda's very personal god requires that she lend her husband full support even when she disagrees with him and wishes he could be less rigid and more empathetic. She must act as the informal "mother to the ward" while she chafes under the male domination that pervades the entire LDS organization. Her most memorable encounters are with egotistical, misogynistic church elders. All this as she pines for the stillborn daughter she never raised and worries that one of her sons may be gay. She has a lot on her plate besides Jello salad with marshmallows.

Linda eventually "solves" - after a fashion - these two crimes. But in the course of doing so, she lifts the lid on contemporary Mormonism. She touches on - and in many cases lightly mocks - many of the bizarre doctrines and practices of the LDS Church. Unfortunately, the two plots are weak. This is the first in a Linda Wallheim series. Ms. Harrison will need to put a lot more effort into building suspense and believability if her future efforts are to create a sustainable fan base.

As an ex-Mormon I was very interested to see what product a "faithful” female fiction author would produce, given the very tight controls that the church exercises over the thoughts and actions of its members. LDS women are to be "mothers in Zion" - raising their numerous well-scrubbed children in an atmosphere reminiscent of the 1950's TV show “Ozzie and Harriet.” LDS women are not to publicly repudiate church doctrine. One who advocates that the "sisters" should be equal with men in holding the Mormon priesthood will be given the same consideration ten renegade nuns lobbying for a woman pope would get from the Vatican. If, after warning, a dissenter persists, she will be excommunicated and sent packing - stripped of her chance to reunite with God and her family in the Celestial Kingdom after death. Plenty of incentive to stay quiet and bake cookies for the church social.

I was pleasantly surprised by Ms. Harrison's willingness to touch on many of the troubling issues that face the church, particularly its female adherents. While Mormon women will be attracted to this book, Mormon men are unlikely to read it. Those who do will complain that it "unfairly" portrays the church. But it doesn't. If anything, it trends the other way. Will Ms. Harrison get at least a good tongue lashing from the Mormon authorities for portraying the church as less than perfect? Probably not, although it has recently expelled several people whose Internet websites have been deemed unacceptable to church authorities. This book comes nowhere near meeting that level of disapprobation, although you can be sure that many church members prefer that it had not been published.

The mystery aspects of the book do not warrant the price of admission. But as a glimpse for non-Mormons into the workings of this “peculiar religion," it is worthwhile. And for ex-Mormons, it's a lot of fun. We will look forward to the subsequent adventures of Linda Willheim, a partially liberated Mormon woman.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-24-13

The author should pay you to listen

What would have made FREE The Gray Man better?

Don't make it available.

Has FREE The Gray Man turned you off from other books in this genre?

Absolutely.

Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Jay Snyder?

No one could make this story even remotely plausible.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from FREE The Gray Man?

The entire book.

Any additional comments?

I listened to the whole thing to confirm my initial impression after listening for 15 minutes-this book is awful. OK, so that makes me an idiot. But my experience should spare you the pain. Audible supplied it free. Actually, I should have been paid to listen.
Perhaps this was the winner in a contest to see who could produce the worst "thriller" novel in literary history.
The Gray Man is Cort Gentry who kills for a living. He does bad things "but only to bad people." Kill squads from around the globe can't stop him. He works alone but dispatches his enemies by the score. Every platitude and stereotype is used to produce a hero who makes Jack Reacher look like a timid Sunday school teacher. And the plot? It would be hard to make it more banal and implausible. The only reason to listen to The Gray Man is if you are trapped in a coal mine with this as your sole entertainment.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-07-13

Worst Audible Book Ever

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Conservative Roman Catholics.

Would you ever listen to anything by Tom Grace again?

No.

Would you be willing to try another one of Phil Gigante’s performances?

Maybe.

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

No.

Any additional comments?

This is a paean to the Papacy. The plot is super thin. The narration was overdone.
Spend your money on something that has a chance to be entertaining.

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0 of 2 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-12-05

A good listen, but beware of some hypotheses

This (and the companion first volume) are good listening and provide a wealth of detail about numerous explorers - many you have heard of and several you have not. (Did you know that a Scotsman named Mungo Parks was one of the first great African explorers?)
The narrator has a wonderful British accent which , naturally, makes the text sound very authoritative.
The book was written in 1958. Consequently, some of the hypotheses advanced by Herrmann are no longer viable. For example, recent DNA analysis has disproved the theory of migration from the Americas west to Polynesia [the "Kon-Tiki theory"].
Setting that aside, the book is fun and brings some real insight into larger than life figures like Columbus and Magellan, while introducing a number of explorers history barely remembers.
The final problem with listening to any book involving many geographical references is that the listener does not have the benefit of any maps that the printed version may contain. So have an atlas handy.

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6 of 6 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 05-12-05

Fun, but beware of some of the conclusions

This (and the companion second volume) are good listening and provide a wealth of detail about numerous explorers - many you have heard of and several you have not. (Did you know that a Scotsman named Mungo Parks was one of the first great African explorers?)
The narrator has a wonderful British accent which , naturally, makes the text sound very authoritative.
The book was written in 1958. Consequently, some of the hypotheses advanced by Herrmann are no longer viable. For example, recent DNA analysis has disproved the theory of migration from the Americas west to Polynesia [the "Kon-Tiki theory"].
Setting that aside, the book is fun and brings some real insight into larger than life figures like Columbus and Magellan, while introducing a number of explorers history barely remembers.
The final problem with listening to any book involving many geographical references is that the listener does not have the benefit of any maps that the printed version may contain. So have an atlas handy.

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30 of 31 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-02-05

So Much For the Glory of War

Captures the horrors of WW I and the absurdity of the death of those who lost their lives after the armistice was signed, but before the war was "officially" ended at 11 a.m. on November 11, 1918. Excellent narration.
This book should be mandatory reading for any politician who wants to start a war, regardless of how "noble" the cause.

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4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-02-05

Great Adventure

Dogs and mushers race time, the cold, and bitter storms to bring life-saving serum to Nome. A true and exciting story. Narration is excellent.

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0 of 1 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 04-02-05

Fascinating

You don't have to be interested in Nazi subs or wreck divers to enjoy this marvelous true story. Like a great novel. Narration is excellent.

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1 of 1 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-28-04

Good material; Terrible presentation

I have enjoyed a number of the Portable Professor series. This one gets 3 stars only because Winik knows his material and is enthusiastic about it.
It is difficult to know who gets the lion's share of the blame for the ghastly presentation - Winik, for not re-recording the material to eliminate his numerous mistakes, or the editors, who let this out to the public without bothering to listen to it.
There are so many gaffs that you end up staying with it just to hear what will come next. It's like listening to George Bush on a really bad day. (Both Bush and Winik are Yale grads. Obviously, neither was required to speak in understandable sentences in order to get a degree.)
Here's just one of countless examples. Winik refers not once, but twice, to Robert E. Lee as "Lincoln's General!"
Unless you have run out of other things to listen to, try something else.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful