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D.A. Bartley Books In Order

Publication Order of Abish Taylor Books

Blessed Be the Wicked (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Death in the Covenant (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Author Donna Alison Bartley is one of the members of the Daughters of Utah Pioneers. It means her ancestors settle in Utah, technically in Deseret, before the Transcontinental Railroad was completed in the year 1869. She is able to trace her family history right back to the earliest days and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

A lot of Alison’s childhood was spent in Utah, but that did not stop her parents from being incurable travelers. Bartley was born in Scotland (at the time her dad was studying linguistics in this country). Her parents moved back to Ogden, Utah when she was two, and this is why she does not have a charming Scottish accent. While she was young, she lived in Russia, Germany, and France.

At the age of ten, her family moved to France, and the next year, they moved to Germany. While she was in high school, her family lived in Salt Lake City, Utah.

She went to Boston University, but the desire to travel the world is in her blood and spent her junior year abroad. She moved to Leningrad, USSR in 1991, then in 1992, she moved to St. Petersburg, Russia.

The next year, she moved to France. While she was here, she pretended to study French, but really just drank a lot of black coffee at sidewalk cafes and did quite a bit of people watching.

After she studied international relations, law, and politics, she worked both as an academic and an attorney in Manhattan. However, she was not able to escape from her life-long love of mystery stories.

Alison has her PhD in political science, and wrote her dissertation on countries using the concept of sovereignty during legal disputes. She also has her JD, which she got from the University of Pennsylvania.

Alison would move with her husband to New York City, where she practiced law before working as a research scholar. Alison and her family split time between Upstate New York and the Upper East Side.

The Mormon Church is a hierarchical and powerful organization that operates mainly in private. She had fun playing with this. Corruption and conspiracy are a natural fit, to her.

That being said, she only set out to pen a murder mystery that was set in Utah. It turns out that Mormonism provides an interesting backdrop for a mystery novel. The question that emerged for her while writing “Blessed Be the Wicked” was what are the consequences when a community only ignores, but no disavow some violent doctrine? Blood atonement is not a part of mainstream Mormonism, but is a part of Mormon history.

Bartley writes the “Abish Taylor Mystery” series, which is set in Utah. The first of these books, called “Blessed Be the Wicked”, was released in the year 2018.

“Blessed Be the Wicked” is the first novel in the “Abish Taylor Mystery” series, which was released in the year 2018. There is a good reason that Detective Abish Taylor left Utah. With her husband’s death, it is time to return home. Connecting again with her family actually means dealing with her past: the dad she abandoned as well as the community that she left behind.

Her escape is being the only police detective in the tiny town of Pleasant View. The peaceful Mormon suburb in the Wasatch Mountains becomes shaken by a macabre death. One that has all the hallmarks of a sacred ritual that dates back to Brigham Young’s days. It sends Abbie into action.

She uncovers the neighborhood’s darker side, infidelity, a global religion’s greed, and corruption. The entire time, Abbie discovers just how far some of the powerful leaders in the Church are willing to go to keep their secrets hidden. Particularly while the brutal killing reveals a sinister tradition that lurks in the religion’s not-too-distant past. It is the ultimate sacrifice for unforgivable sins. The chief pressures her to close the case and the community that once gave her shelter watches every move she makes, Abbie has to find some justice for the dead. She has to do it before she is silenced for good.

Bartley is able to hit the nail on the head with her blunt descriptions and direct writing style. She dives into all of Mormon culture, and she explains the terms and the hierarchy of the church. The characters are well rounded, especially the relationship that Abbie and Clarke build while the novel progresses. The book keeps you turning pages so that you can get the answers to your questions.

“Death in the Covenant” is the second novel in the “Abish Taylor Mystery” series, which was released in the year 2019. Abbie is awakened by an unsettling phone call. She arrives to the scene of a fatal car wreck, and finds the victim was a beloved leader of the Church and an old friend of the family. Abbie is skeptical when her dad insists the death was no accident. To try and patch up their relationship, she takes time off from her job as the only detective in the department and goes to Colonia Juarez, which used to be an LDS colony in Mexico.

Here, she finds a plan that harkens back to the history of polygamy in the Church. Abbie knows far too well that revealing secrets can get deadly. Could that be why her dad’s buddy died? Abbie sees with a jolt that her investigation might cost her dad his job, and might get him ex-communicated. Who could the murderous mastermind of this secret plot be? Time is running low for Abbie to save her dad’s job as well as her own life while dark forces begin to close in on her. The outlook for Pleasant View becomes rather unpleasant.

These are some superb characters in the book, with a well paced and straightforward police procedural novel. Abbie is a relatable character, and her backstory (how she walked away from a faith she was raised in, struggling with loss, and her conservative upbringing) was something readers connected with from the start.

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