The Angel Acronym: A Mystery Introducing Toom Taggart

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A simultaneously suspenseful and humorous mystery led by a cynical historian-turned-detective determined to find out who killed his colleague in the church archives.

April, 2003

SKU: 1-56085-166-X Category: Tags: , Author: Paul M. EdwardsProduct ID: 1284


Finding the church archivist dead in the temple complex was somewhat awkward for the RLDS church hierarchy. What was the archivist doing in the temple in the middle of the night and what was he doing with President Fred M. Smith’s declaration of supreme directional control?

For the public relations department, this was all a day’s work—something not so very difficult to explain away with a few carefully worded phrases. That would have been that, had the director of church education, erstwhile philosopher Toom Taggart, not smelled something rotten on the second floor.

Alternately suspenseful and humorous, The Angel Acronym romps through the corridors of religious orthodoxy and the pages of history to probe the perplexities of religious truth, public image, and a bureaucratic mindset.

Paul M. Edwards is the author of nine previous books, all non-fiction, ranging from philosophy to the Korean War. As past director of the RLDS Temple School in Independence, Missouri, he draws on his own experience to breathe life into the Spinoza-reading detective, Toom Taggart.

Paul EdwardsEdwards earned a doctorate from St. Andrews University in Scotland; he has been a professor of philosophy at Park University in Kansas City, vice president of Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, and president of the John Whitmer Historical Association and the Mormon History Association. Currently he directs Graceland’s Center for the Study of the Korean War.

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2 reviews for The Angel Acronym: A Mystery Introducing Toom Taggart

  1. Publishers Weekly

    Edwards offers a fresh take on the bibliomystery with this debut effort, set at the Independence, Mo., headquarters of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Toom Taggart, a coffee-swigging, cynical historian, suspects foul play when one of his colleagues turns up dead in the church archives. Although denominational officials and police treat the death as an ill-timed heart attack or stroke, Toom finds reasons to believe that the deceased was actually poisoned—but why, and by whom? Edwards explores what’s at stake in ecclesiastical history by positing that a newly discovered document showing the prophet Joseph Smith to be a charlatan might have been enough to push one of Toom’s coworkers to murder. It’s not a particularly original plot, and the identity of the killer is never really in question, but the iconoclastic Toom is a deeply likable protagonist. Along the way, Edwards serves up some interesting and even profound thoughts on faith, the nature of belief, the power of knowledge, and the psychological effect of killing on a murderer. The book’s dry, wry humor occasionally goes over the top with unnecessary authorial asides, but is mostly right on the money. Edwards offers particularly cogent and stinging indictments of ecclesiastical bureaucracy in all its pencil-pushing banality. While the novel will be most appreciated by RLDS and LDS folks who understand the many unexplained insider terms, others will simply be hooked by the characters.

  2. John Mort, Booklist

    In Paul Edwards’s Angel Acronym, an archivist at the Community of Christ (formerly the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) headquartered in Independence, Missouri, discovers some unsettling correspondence. It seems to prove that Joseph Smith’s revelations in Palmyra, leading to the Book of Mormon, were a fraud. Such knowledge is enough to get the archivist murdered, though at first his death seems accidental. Toom Taggart, editor of the church’s press, becomes the sleuth ferreting out the truth in this witty exercise that purports to be the first in a series. Many of Toom’s endless intellectual jokes fly between Independence and the better-known Mormonism found in Salt Lake City. In fact, publication by Signature, a Mormon press from Utah, is a kind of prank in itself, particularly since Edwards used to work in Independence. His droll insider’s view may not have much resonance for Baptists but should evoke chuckles from Saints regardless of their stake.

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