Reviewed by Heather B. Moore
For Time and All Eternities is the third installment of the Linda Wallheim mystery series. For Time works well as a standalone—in fact, I read the first book The Bishop’s Wife, but not the second book. I didn’t feel lost, which I appreciated. Linda Wallheim is the wife of an LDS Bishop, and although she and her husband have raised five children together, recent months in their marriage have been rocky. Linda is sympathetic to those who have struggled with a church policy change, and she finds that her sympathies have created a deep divide between her and her husband Kurt. Regardless, they continue to move through the motions of their marriage until the day that Linda’s son Kenneth comes to tell her he is marrying a young woman from a polygamist family. Linda and Kurt are shocked, but they agree to meet the young woman Naomi, who in turn, invites Linda and Kurt to meet her very large family–which includes Naomi’s father Stephen Carter, his five wives, and dozens of children. Linda tries to keep an open mind, but Kurt is not as tolerant. He leaves the compound early to get back to work, while Linda stays overnight.
When the patriarch Stephen Carter is found murdered the next morning, Linda is caught up in the mystery surrounding the murder. The murder mystery elements of the story, however, are minor in comparison to Linda’s investigation into the polygamist lifestyle and doctrine. While Linda tries to understand why each woman would agree to such a marriage, she cannot ignore the warnings she feels about how ‘wrong’ things feel at the compound. She discovers that many of her first impressions were made too quickly, and that if she does not gather the right information soon enough, her own life will be in danger. For Time and All Eternities is not a straight-forward who-dun-it mystery, but rather it centers on Linda’s introspection as she contemplates the historical roots of her religion and how a group of people could take it in this direction. At times, Linda questions her own core beliefs, especially since some of them are founded on “cultural” opinions and not actual Mormon doctrine. We don’t see Linda actively involved in her congregation, but we gain an essence of her nurturing personality and how, even when faced with women who have chosen to perpetuate a confining lifestyle, she withholds judgment and helps where she can. Linda’s internal religious debates reminded me of The Ladies Auxiliary by Tova Mirvis, in which we get see into the mind of a faithful woman who may question some religious principles, but still believes in the divine nature of God.
For Time and All Eternities is a compelling read—one that will have readers considering if their love for family is stronger than their preconceived expectations for each other. Readers will become wrapped in the Wallheim family’s idiosyncrasies, which will leave them looking forward to the next book in the series.