Drawing from thousands of pages of police reports, court documents, interviews, letters, and diaries, Sillitoe’s and Roberts’s narrative cuts through the complexities of this famous crime investigation to deliver a gripping, Capote-esque tale. They embrace the details but lay them out systematically as seen through the eyes of the detectives, victims, and the perpetrator. The darkest secrets unravel gradually—allowing the reader fleeting glimpses of the infamous white salamander as it ducks in and out of its fabricator’s head.
What was the “salamander letter” and why were so many people determined to possess—and to conceal—it? Why was this one of the most unusual cases in American forensic history?
A skilled con artist by anyone’s assessment, Mark Hofmann eluded exposure by police and document authenticators—the FBI, Library of Congress, the LDS historical department, and polygraph experts—until George Throckmorton discovered the telltale microscopic alligatoring that was characteristic of the forgeries. What ensued was a suspense-ridden cat-and-mouse game between seasoned prosecutors and a clever, homicidal criminal. In the end, this story only verifies that some facts are indeed stranger than fiction.
Linda Sillitoe is a graduate of the University of Utah. As a Deseret News staff reporter, news features editor for Utah Holiday magazine, and a New York Times correspondent, she garnered awards from the Utah chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists and Associated Press. Her non-fiction includes Banking on the Hemingways: Three Generations of Banking in Utah and Idaho, Friendly Fire: The ACLU in Utah, and Welcoming the World: A History of Salt Lake County. She is also the author of a collection of poetry, a collection of short stories, and a novel and has contributed to several anthologies of poetry and short stories. She has taught journalism on several college campuses. She co-produced the PBS-affiliated documentary, “Navajo and American.” She lives in Mesa, Arizona.
Allen Dale Roberts is an award-winning architect (Cooper-Roberts Architects) specializing in historical restoration. He is the co-founder of Sunstone magazine, co-editor of Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and is a contributing author to Religion, Feminism, and Freedom of Conscience: A Mormon/Humanist Dialogue. He has been published in the Utah Historical Quarterly and elsewhere and is the recipient of a Best Article Award from the Mormon History Association. He is a board member of the Utah Endowment for the Humanities and is the Utah Advisor for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
George J. Throckmorton, an expert in document authentication, was the first to expose Mark Hofmann’s forgeries. His analysis is included as an appendix to Salamander. A member of the SLCPD, he serves on the board of directors of the Southwest Association of Forensic Document Examiners and is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences.