Before delving into J.M. Oborn’s The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott, readers will want to take a deep breath, because from the first scene, when Matthew Alcott wakes up naked in the Nevada desert, up to the last word he pens in the controversial book he has written about Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith, the tension never lessens, the suspense builds steadily, and the plot and characters prove to be convincingly unpredictable . I should insert a caveat here about adult situations and language.
That said, Osborn’s story reaches from the granite vaults in Utah’s Cottonwood Canyon, the storage facility for valuable LDS (Mormon) historical documents, to an unlikely establishment (The One Hump Bar) in Resurrection Corner, New York, which serves up alcohol, coffee, and AA meetings. Several years earlier Matt, an employee of the LDS historical department, discovers a hidden document which presents Joseph Smith in an unflattering light. Life goes downhill from there, and Matt finds himself divorced, drunk, unemployed, and on the run, pursued by minions of church leaders and a powerful, wealthy far-reaching group determined to quiet him at any cost.
Interestingly, Oborn’s LDS characters have few, if any redeeming qualities. His villain, Farley Rockwell, is chillingly convincing. The other characters populating this novel are well-drawn and believably human---people we’d all want on our team.
Throughout the story runs the theme of redemption, at the deeply honest, personal level required for sobriety and, ultimately, forgiveness.
Oborn’s writing style is lean and truncated and he makes effective use of flashbacks. He breaks accepted rules about point of view and complete sentences, but his confident style is very effective and doesn’t fail to stop us in our tracks with the hero’s insightful thoughts, as well as the occasional stunning description. From the exploits of “The Twelve Apostles,” (a Harley-driving gang of recovering alcoholics), to a den of lethal snakes, from closeted polygamists to compassionate nuns, this compelling mystery-thriller never disappoints. Hang on to your Harley---J. M. Oborn’s The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott is a compelling, well-written work of fiction
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