CLEO JONES – Prophet Motive. St. Martin’s, hardcover, 1984. No paperback edition.

CELO JONES Prophet Motive

   This is a first mystery, though not a first novel, and it’s a real find. In Magpie, a suburb of Salt Lake City, Police Chief Christopher Danville, himself a lapsed Mormon, must deal with the murder of Mormon Bishop Manion in an atmosphere of suspicion and hostility.

   Newcomer Naomi Green, Planned Parenthood director, is the townspeople’s prime suspect because of their opposition to her work. There are also Mormon fundamentalists who hold on to the old way of polygamy. Danville’s sergeant, Wilkes, turns out to be one of them, so he is automatically a suspect.

   Danville himself is a complex character. Divorced from a “good Mormon wife,” feeling guilty about not spending enough time with his daughter, sexually attracted to Naomi, his own conflicts get in the way of his work. However, he goes about tracking down a good Mormon husband who has supposedly run off with a dancer at a Las Vegas casino owned by a wealthy Magpie Mormon.

   He finds that there are others interested in the missing man as well. The denouement is startling, but no more so than some of the action along the way. I recommend this highly, except to Mormons, who aren’t going to like the inside information this ex-Mormon author spills.

— Reprinted from The Poisoned Pen, Vol. 6, No. 4,
Fall 1986.

Bio-Bibliographic Notes:   Al Hubin has no information about the author, except to say that she is an “ex-Mormon living in Utah.” I have a feeling that ‘Cleo Jones’ may be a pen name. She wrote one other mystery, The Case of the Fragmented Woman (St. Martin’s, 1986), which takes place in San Francisco and does not involve Police Chief Danville as a character.