Blood Atonement: A Pioneer Trail Mystery came about from research into women in 1800s Mormon polygamy. I conducted this research while I attended the University of Wyoming and interned at the Toppan Rare Books Library. (If an evil genie forced me to select one location to remain for the rest of my life, the Toppan would be my selection. As long as he’d toss in food occasionally I’d think he was a nice genie.)
The curator, Anne Marie Lane, encouraged me to submit my research to the American Heritage Center’s annual student research competition. My paper won! From that paper, I deepened the research with the intention of writing a non-fiction book about the topic. Like my research paper, this non-fiction book was to examine the subject strictly from a nonjudgmental aspect. Well, my first fiction writing class at UW changed all that. I wrote my first piece of fiction for that workshop–a mystery–and fell in love with the genre. A few years later, I used my stash of research to write Blood Atonement.
Writers AMuse Me Publishing released it on August 22, 2013, but it’s no longer under contract. Here’s the back cover blurb:
Missouri Territory, 1846: Driven by angry mobs, thousands of Latter-day Saints flee their homes in the eastern United States. They gather west of the Missouri River to wait out the winter and hope they survive hunger and disease.
A church leader unveils a shocking, divine revelation to teenage sisters Aveline and Frances Bowmore: they must marry married men. The specter of polygamy promises heaven. Aveline and Frances feel compelled to obey. They become plural wives. The loss of each other’s support while faced with angry sister-wives and husbands they’d just met stretches their willpower to the breaking point.
Aveline’s world shatters when gentle Frances is brutally strangled. Grief-stricken, Aveline trusts the camp police chief to find the pious Mormon’s killer, but the chief stalls his investigation. She presses him and Frances’s husband for answers. Aveline’s husband orders her to cease—how dare she question men?
Time is running out to discover the truth about Frances’ murder. Spring approaches and the Saints prepare for the overland journey west to Zion. Aveline quietly defies her husband. She discovers secrets of powerful men—secrets they don’t want revealed.
If you’re interested in reading more, send me an email to purchase the novel in trade paperback or in a digital format.