Those portrayed in "Mormon Murders" say authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith paint their book's characters in black and white, ignoring shades of gray. Their players are either heroes or villains.
Ron YengichRon Yengich, Mark W. Hofmann's defense attorney, is one of the heroes. Naifeh and Smith describe him as "the most aggressive - possibly the best - criminal defense attorney in Utah."
Yengich is known for his no-holds-barred candor and his contempt for institutional power - governmental or religious.
But even Yengich, who has never been noted for his affinity toward the LDS Church, can't buy the theme Naifeh and Smith try to sell in their book: that the LDS Church was involved in a Watergate-type cover-up of the Hofmann murders.
"Certainly the church had a role in the case; the case was about the church as a victim. But to endeavor to reduce the case of this complexity to simply that the Mormon Church bought off the prosecution is reducing it to the absurd."
Yengich agreed to be interviewed by Naifeh so he could represent his client's view. He liked Naifeh, but it was obvious that Naifeh had "come to town with his own theory about the church cover-up."
Another of the book's heroes is prosecutor Gerry D'Elia.
He found Naifeh and Smith's book both entertaining and exaggerated.
"The main issue of the Hofmann case was that two people got killed and documents were forged. The church cover-up was an angle Naifeh and Smith thought of tosell books," he said.
D'Elia was the prosecutor who first saw Steven Christensen's shattered body lying on the floor of the Judge Building the morning of Oct. 15, 1985.
"At first I was suspicious of everyone giving me information about the case- including the LDS Church. That's my job - to be skeptical of everyone.
"The LDS Church operated like any institution would at the beginning stages pof the investigation. That's human nature. But once the investigation took direction, the church cooperated fully with us. They gave us their documents and talked with us. I had no suspicions of untruthfulness."
Police investigator Ken Farnsworth, another one of the book's heroes, thinks the authors overlooked the intricacies of the "most complex murder investigationin Utah history" by focusing on the LDS Church. Unfortunately, the significance of the murders was lost in allegations of a cover-up, he said.
"I felt no influence from the church in any of my decision-making throughout the investigation," Farsnworth said. "There were some challenges in the beginning of the investigation, but the church complied with everything they were asked to do."
Farnsworth, who drscribes himself as a non-Mormon, said, "The church had absolutely no influence on police leaders."