Rachel O’Brien Rockwood, like her stepfather J. D., longs to hunt criminals and other miscreants. So when, in 1887, during the height of US anti-polygamy legislation, two federal deputies on the lookout for Mormon polygamists are murdered in the small village of Centre, west of Salt Lake City, she jumps at the chance to join the investigation. But detecting never runs smoothly—Rachel and J. D. butt heads regularly over method and approach. Rachel favors talking and uncovering motives. J. D. prefers tracking and searching for the murder weapon. Also there are too many suspects—nearly every villager wanted the deputies gone. As fast as J. D. and Rachel can uncover clues, the local Mormon bishop brushes them aside, insisting instead that the deputies committed thievery and fled westward. Whose theory is true—Rachel’s, J. D.’s, the bishop’s? Or will the story be shaped by the federal marshal, openly hostile to all things Mormon?
John Bennion is a six-generation native of Utah’s western desert. He is associate professor of English at Brigham Young University, where he teaches creative writing and British literature. He is the author of Breeding Leah (1991) and Falling Toward Heaven (2000). He has published short work in AWP Chronicle, Best of the West II, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, English Journal, High Country News, Hotel Amerika, Journal of Mormon History, Southwest Review, Utah Historical Quarterly, and elsewhere. He lives in Utah Valley with his wife, a psychotherapist. They are the parents of five children.