Book review: 'If I Should Die' keeps readers guessing

By Rosemarie Howard

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, Oct. 1 2011 5:00 a.m. MDT

"IF I SHOULD DIE," by Jennie Hansen, Covenant Communications, $16.99, 235 pages (f)

Jennie Hansen’s murder mystery, “If I Should Die,” is a well-written novel filled with unexpected twists, some healthy romance and a satisfying ending.

Kallene Ashton is a single Mormon woman who works as a graphic artist at a large advertising agency in Salt Lake City. She loves her calling as Cub Scout den mother and enjoys running every morning with her close friend and neighbor, Linda Longdale.

One day Linda doesn’t show up for their morning run and is still missing two days later. Kallene contacts the police and Linda’s family because Carson, Linda’s husband, refuses to do so. Given the Longdale’s marital problems and mounting circumstantial evidence, a murder charge against Carson seems inevitable, but Kallene cannot see him as the murderer.

As the investigation proceeds, Kallene is introduced to two eligible bachelors. One is Scott Alexander, the police detective investigating the case; the other is Jon Pierson, Linda’s brother.

At the same time, Kallene is battling challenges at work and wondering how to help one of her Cub Scouts, Parker Grayson, whose parents don’t seem interested in his well-being.

Kallene’s membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is portrayed in a natural and positive way. Her dating relationships are open and honest with an emphasis on forming friendships, rather than mere romance.

Hansen is a former newspaper reporter and editor, and an admitted “news junkie.” The story brings to mind several high profile murder cases involving missing women that have appeared in the news in the past few years.

“None of the characters in this story are patterned after real people and the events have no connection to the stories that triggered my thinking along this line,” Hansen said in a Covenant Communications press release.

Hansen’s years of journalistic writing experience are evident in the character development, concise use of words, and expert storytelling. Hansen pulls readers into the book with her first line, “I made a mistake,” and leaves them guessing how things will turn out right up to the story’s end.

Writing a murder mystery for an LDS/Christian audience might seem like an oxymoron, but Hansen has said she dislikes dwelling on excessive gore and violence beyond what is necessary and that it is important a murderer never be held up as admirable.

She succeeds on both counts and adds faith, hope and charity to the mix.

Rosemarie Howard lives in a 100-year old house in Springville. She enjoys creating multimedia content. Her website is www.dramaticdimensions.com

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