Title: Blessed Be the Wicked by D. A. Bartley
Abish Taylor Mystery Series Book One
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery, Suspense
Length: 336 pages
Book Rating: B+
Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley
In D. A. Bartley’s compelling debut, Detective Abish Taylor returns home to Utah and uncovers dark secrets lurking within the quiet Mormon community.
Detective Abish Taylor left Utah for a reason. But with her husband’s passing, it’s time to come home. Reconnecting with her family means dealing with her past: the father she abandoned and the community she left behind. Her one escape is serving as the sole police detective in the small town of Pleasant View. But when the quiet Mormon suburb in the Wasatch Mountains is shaken by a macabre death—with the hallmarks of a sacred ritual dating back to the days of Brigham Young— Abbie is called into action.
As she uncovers the dark side of the picturesque neighborhood—infidelity, corruption, and the greed of a global religion—Abbie discovers just how far some powerful leaders of the Church will go to bury their secrets. Especially as the brutal murder unearths a sinister tradition lurking in the religion’s not-so-distant past: the ultimate sacrifice for unforgivable sins. With the chief pressuring her to close the case and the community that once sheltered her watching her every move, Abbie must find justice for the dead—before she’s silenced for good.
Blessed Be the Wicked by D. A. Bartley is a compelling mystery that incorporates the Mormon faith into the storyline.
Abish “Abbie” Taylor is the only detective in the Pleasant View Police Department. A small town with a dense population of members of the Latter Day Saints, everyone on the police force is shocked by the ritualistic death of a prominent resident. Trying to prevent any negative publicity for the Church, Police Chief Russell Henderson pulls everyone off the case except for Abbie and Officer Jim Clarke. With pressure to solve the case quickly and quietly, Abbie and Jim cross paths with church officials who are not exactly forthcoming when answering questions. Will Abbie and Jim unmask the killer before Henderson and church officials shut down their investigation?
Abbie has been estranged from everyone in her family except for her brother, John, since she left the church and moved out of state. Following the death of her husband, she decided to moved back to Utah in hopes of reconciling with her father and sisters, but her siblings are not receptive to her overtures. Abbie’s interactions with her dad are fraught with tension, but they are making progress in working through their issues.
Abbie also experiences tension with the many of her co-workers. However, she has a good working relationship with Jim and his close ties with the residents of the community are extremely helpful during their investigation. Although she is no longer an active member of the church, her knowledge of the Mormon faith is extensive (and rather impressive). Abbie immediately recognizes the significance of the manner in which the victim died, but Chief Henderson seems more concerned with protecting the church’s reputation than solving the case. She and Jim must tread lightly as they question prominent leaders of the church who have close ties to the victim. Jim is a devout Mormon and this proves to be a valuable asset throughout the investigation.
With plenty of twists, turns and clever red herrings, Blessed Be the Wicked is an intricately plotted and infinitely fascinating mystery. Abbie is a likable and sympathetic lead character but it would be nice to learn more information about her past. The secondary characters are also appealing but they are not very well-rounded due to a lack of much backstory. D. A. Bartley skillfully weaves different facets of the Mormon faith into the storyline and these glimpses of the Latter Day Saints are quite interesting. The investigation into the victim’s death exposes many other secrets that will hopefully be explored in future installments of the Abish Taylor Mystery series.