Friday, September 21, 2012

The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott by Michael Oborn

Matthew Alcott had come from a prominent Mormon family in Salt Lake City. Previously married to the daughter of the stake president, he had been working as a historian in the archives of the L. D. S. church. “Took me three years to realize I was there to find and catalogue, nothing else. I find it. They hide it.” (223)
But he found something they were not able to hide. He discovered the last revelation of Joseph Smith. It was written the last day of his life, June 27, 1844. It had been hidden by Brigham Young under the cover leaf of one of his personal journals.
Smith had said that the ability to understand truth was inherited only by the male. Only men had the genetic tissues of right thinking. (224) The revelation promoted polygamy. “Monogamy was the devil at work...” (224)
Matthew is determined to write a book, an expose. His marriage was over and he was being kicked out of the church. Much of the novel is what happens to Matthew after he left Salt Lake City with the incriminating evidence.

As with any novel, it is hard to know how much Oborn has written is based on fact and how much of conjecture. Of Joseph Smith, he writes, “Between 1841 and 1844 the guy manages to marry on average one a month. Can you imagine? We're talking 'busy.' Some of those ladies had living husbands and children...” (167) Even with the federal cease and desist order in 1887, the polygamists went underground, Osborn writes. One historian estimates fifty thousand descendants alive today from the polygamous marriages performed underground between 1890 and 1906.

This is a roughly written novel. Much of the dialog lacks verbs or pronouns. About the Book of Mormon: “Get a copy...skim the book. Reading it, far too tedious.” (169) Elsewhere, Oborn starts a new paragraph, “Had called little brother from his editor's office.” (174) I found the style of writing very disconcerting and hard to understand.

The action jumps back in forth in time, too. It is the present, then four years before, then the present, then childhood, then present – all in a few pages. It made following the story more difficult, I thought.

Also, there is language as well as scenes that would make this book not suitable for Christian readers, in general.

Oborn says he wrote this book to entertain people with the women's issues playing a heavy subtext. I found the book too difficult to read just not well crafted enough to enjoy it.

You can find out more about Oborn and this book at

Outskirts Press, 319 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author for the purpose of this review.

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