Murder by Sacrament


Murder by Sacrament: Another Toom Taggart Mystery.

The second novel chronicling Toom Taggart’s adventures in solving a homicide investigation within the RLDS Church.

October 2014

SKU: 978-1-56085-229-2 Category: Tags: , Author: Paul M. EdwardsProduct ID: 1434


Murder in the bucolic town of Independence, Missouri, is not everyday news. Especially when it occurs in the temple owned by the Reorganized Mormons. Once again, philosophy instructor and amateur sleuth Toom Taggart becomes embroiled in a homicide investigation. In this second novel, Edwards re-acquaints readers with the likeable, curmudgeonly professor who shocks fellow Latter Day Saints by drinking coffee. By coincidence, Taggart is called to oversee the Church’s education department, just as the author himself was some years ago. This gives Taggart even more reason to explore the inner offices at Church headquarters—places and hushed conversations are not meant for outsiders—all of which the author describes with a wink and a nod.

Taggart is annoyed at having to navigate the political structure of the bureaucracy, but he cannot bring himself to leave. He is able to teach, and he likes his proximity to Church archives, local bookstores, and the woman who, according to fate, is still seeing the policeman from The Angel Acronym. All the major characters are back, and Taggart’s romantic rival is given the new murder case, meaning that he has to rely once again on Taggart for his knowledge of the Church’s secrets. This gives both men a reason to keep an eye on the other, making for entertaining situations in a funny, insider send-up of the RLDS community.

Paul M. Edwards is author of The Angel Acronym, to which the current volume serves as a sequel. In his mystery novels, he draws on his experience as past director of the RLDS (Community of Christ) Temple School in Independence, Missouri. He holds a doctorate from St. Andrews University in Scotland and has been a Professor of Philosophy at Park University in Kansas City. He has also served as vice president of Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa. He is a past president of the John Whitmer Historical Association and past president of the Mormon History Association. In nonfiction, he has authored thirty books, monographs, and Church manuals.

Additional information

Book Author

1 review for Murder by Sacrament

  1. Doug Gibson, Ogden Standard Examiner

    Those who yearn for Mormon-themed fiction without the obligatory faith-promoting climax might want to give Toom Taggert the once-over. He’s the protagonist of author Paul M. Edwards’ mystery novel “Murder by Sacrament,” from Signature Books.

    “Murder By Sacrament” — arriving in stores next month — is the second book featuring Taggert, who plays a somewhat cynical philosophy professor who also heads the education department of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, now known as The Community of Christ. Edwards is a former president of the Mormon History Association and he created Taggert in an image no doubt treasured by most explorers of Mormon history: He’s an unorthodox bureaucrat, coffee-drinking and less impressed by faith than his peers, uncomfortably nested in an environment of church hierarchy bureaucrats and hyperfaith junior members of the church staff. A bit of a loner, with a comatose wife, Toom’s closest friends are a cop buddy named Amos, and Marie, the church’s legal representation. There is romantic tension between Toom and Amos over Marie, who almost married the cop in the past.

    The book is set in the RLDS church’s Independence, Mo. headquarters, at the time period just before the RLDS church changed its name. Frankly, with the structure and tensions that Edwards creates, the novel could just as easily be set in LDS headquarters in Salt Lake City. In “Murder by Sacrament,” someone is killing major church donors via poison. The first donor is killed drinking the sacrament in the church’s temple, another is killed sampling chocolates at an expensive church party. Ultimately, the pressures of performing in an highly religious environment play into the murder plot.

    This is a cerebral novel, with Taggert using his philosophy skills both to try to solve the murders, handle the anal behavior at work, and meander through a love affair he cannot consummate due to his ailing wife. One hobby that helps him keep sane is finding books with authors’ names that resemble the subject. For example, “Follow My Dust,” by Arthur Upfield, and so on. The reader can’t help but like Taggert, a man who uses his wit to maintain his faith, a product most would laud, except in an environment filled with certainty. It’s interesting to read a novel that pits faith as the opposite of certainty. There is an odd twist to the novel in which Edwards scrawls asides on the pages. One is a page number game (“go to page …”) that can lead the reader into a never-ending page maze.

    There’s not a lot of violence in “Murder By Sacrament,” and often times other issues intrude on the plot. But it’s a well-paced, well thought-out mystery in a Mormon setting and the story builds to a satisfying climax, with a bureaucracy-mandated twist at the very end that leaves a killer with a good legacy. Edwards’ first Toom Taggert novel, “The Angel Acronym,” involved a RLDS church archivist murdered at the headquarters. The plot included certain documents discovered that cast the Prophet Joseph Smith in a harsh light. It’s a good read that can serve as a precursor to “Murder By Sacrament.”

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *