fiction / mystery / review / suspense

Black Widows by Cate Quinn

I came across this one in a NYT column and put it right on my holds list. It sounded intriguing–a man with three wives found dead near his rural compound. What a disappointment! I’m not entirely sure if Marilyn Stasio actually read the book.

I didn’t get the impression from Black Widows or interviews with Cate Quinn that she was familiar with the LDS church (commonly known as Mormons) and how the characters in this book were far from the norm. She refers to them as “Mormon” in the book and in interviews but the official church doesn’t recognize polygamy and those who practice it are part of an unaffiliated fundamentalist offshoot. She also seems to confuse that with evangelical Christianity which isn’t the same thing either. Her formerly Catholic character is depicted as speaking in tongues.

In the book a character says Postum was made from chicory (not true) and there a few other parts that made me think she researched the book via Wikipedia and lifestyle blogs. Why would she write about something she seemed to know nothing about? She appears to be British, has she ever been to Utah? Met a member of the LDS church? The idea was fine but nothing really rang true. Maybe she just wanted to write something she thought would be flashy and sensational and didn’t care if it felt authentic. A big part of the plot hinges on polygamy being legal in Nevada which isn’t true.

Really just a sloppy mess through and through. I don’t know why anyone who seemingly knows nothing about any of the religions mentioned in the book decided with write a book where the plot revolves around religion. It was offensive and I’m about as far from religious as you can get.

I’ve read a few reviews of the book which don’t mention the inaccuracies which is a real shame because it means they probably took all the bizarre things Quinn made up as accurate. I hope other readers don’t do the same.

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