Linda Wallheim is the mother of five grown boys and the wife of a Mormon bishop in the heart of Utah. Linda's unofficial job as bishop's wife is to support her husband and act as the de facto mother to the ward. But when people of her ward are in danger, she cannot suppress her misgivings about the church's patriarchal structure and secrecy any longer.
Once again pulling from the headlines, His Right Hand tackles an extremely contested topic within the Mormon community - transgenderism. Mormon bishop's wife Linda Wallheim fears for the safety of the people in her community when Karl Ashby, the ward's second counselor (the bishop's right-hand man), is found dead in an elaborately staged murder. Linda tries to console Karl's grieving children and wife, but matters are complicated when the autopsy reveals that Karl was a biological woman. Harrison's work continues to present us with a unique insider's glimpse into the lesser-known workings of the Mormon faith and community. Mette is steadily establishing her name in adult crime fiction as she attends conventions around the country.
This book was wacky, addictive, and over the top. I think this series would make a great daytime soap opera.
Book Two of the series drove the charming quirkiness of Book One to levels too dramatic and tedious to be believable and left me questioning the characters' mental health. How many times did I groan out loud, I wonder, at the quality of the writing and the plotline.
Whereas the first book was an insightful and humanizing introduction to those not familiar with Mormonism/LDS -- a learning experience I welcomed -- the second book seems to cater more to an inside population. Most disappointing, though, the characters were played out as pawns in some unfathomable divine scheme, their actions based on the absence or presence of an immediate physical or audible message from God.
I appreciate the author's commitment to bring awareness to difficult social issues faith traditions must wrestle with, and her attempt to raise a more progressive and inclusive voice to the conversation -- it's why I stuck with it to the end. But, in my estimation, the supernatural influence on top of the characters' shaky mental stability doesn't do much to shine a normalizing or healing light on already divisive issues.
If you could sum up His Right Hand in three words, what would they be?
as above: engaging, informative, sympathetic
Did the plot keep you on the edge of your seat? How?
very well-drawn characters - enough revelations to surprise but not strain credulity
What does Kirsten Potter bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?
Who was the most memorable character of His Right Hand and why?
The narrator, as seems appropriate in this second novel featuring her
Any additional comments?
Note to author: write fast! Can't wait for the next...
I enjoyed this book, but at times I didn't care for the way it was narrated. I am LDS (lifer) and I am pretty in tune with LDS culture. I felt the snark coming from the narrator was a little overt at times. Not that LDS people don't have snark down to a fine science, but we tend to more gleefully veil our snarkyness.
I appreciate the author as she delved into many of mormonism's dark issues, but perhaps she tried to take on too many in one setting. It's as if we are getting a laundry list of all of the Mormon church's baggage in one load. I fear the average non-LDS reader may ask, "what does the author get from her religion that she appreciates?" or, "Is this book an apology to the rest of the world for Mormons not being more up with the times?"
I myself have struggled with certain doctrines, and have gone through my own faith crisis' so I don't judge the author. Rather I applaud her courage to write her humanity into her characters. To submit herself to the possibility of Mormon / Oprah-esque book clubbers ripping her to shreds as she delves into topics that make the most faithful uncomfortable in the confrontation of dissonance within their own beliefs and the gospel message.
I will be reading / listening to more of Mette Ivie Harrison. Hopefully I can take her narrators with more of a grain of salt