Publisher: Soho Press (May, 2021)
Kindle edition: $14.95
A Linda Wallheim Mystery (Book 5 of 5)
Reviewed by Shirley Wetzel
For almost three decades Linda Wallheim has been a stellar example of Mormon womanhood, a supportive and obedient wife and a loving and nurturing mother to their five sons. For the last few years, though, she has begun to question some of the tenets of the highly patriarchal religion. Her husband Kurt, now a bishop in their ward, is strongly opposed to her rebellious attitude. Family counseling is not helping much, and Linda questions whether her marriage and or her faith will survive.
When her son Joseph tells her his fifteen-year-old babysitter has gone missing, she makes it her mission to find the girl and bring her home. She talks to Sage Jensen’s parents and finds them oddly unconcerned. Mr. Jensen says she’s been difficult for the last few months and she’s gone off in a huff because she doesn’t want to follow the rules. He refuses to call the police, claiming she’ll be back in a few days.
Linda thinks there’s more to the story than that. Sage’s friends paint a picture of a very troubled girl whose parents were cold and not supportive. Something bad had happened to her weeks ago, and she wasn’t dealing with it well.
Through dogged determination Linda tracks Sage down and gets her to open up. She was the victim of a violent assault by some of the golden boys at her school, and she knew her community would downplay the crime so as not to tarnish the boys’ reputation and put a damper on their future as church leaders. Linda realizes that is probably exactly what will happen, and she tries to find a way to get justice for the traumatized child.
The author, who is Mormon and is married to a bishop in the church, paints a brutally honest picture of the faults in the LDS church, while acknowledging the positive aspects. THE PRODIGAL DAUGHTER is a fascinating, if somewhat disturbing, look into a community most know little about. Recommended.
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