The synopsis of The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott: Heritage of Secrets by Michael Oborn drew my attention so I accepted the book to review. I was interested in how a book written in the thriller genre could answer “Was Joseph Smith the Hugh Hefner of the early 1800s?” and was soon to find out.
The beginning of the plot finds Matthew Alcott in the desert, naked and beaten. He makes his way to a small New York town, Resurrection Corner, and settles in find solace in a 12-step meeting for alcoholics. Alcott writes a book, gleaned from information gathered while he was a historian for the Mormon Church, which exposes Joseph Smith and revelations that were hidden by the church. The hierarchy of the church finds out about the manuscript and uses unscrupulous ways to prevent its publication.
That is the premise and the mainstay of the plot, but there is another side to the story and that is the struggles of an alcoholic and how the disease influences life. There was a complete sub-culture that readers, especially men in recovery, would relate to and get pulled into the story.
Personally, I found the exposed information on the Mormon Church interesting. Being this is a fiction book, I’m not sure how much of the information is embellished, but I would assume the basis is true. The power of the church and those running it are viewed as being corrupt with political and cultural clout.
The beginning of the book was very difficult to read because it in written in staccato style. The overuse of fragmented sentences presented flow issues and got boring. I also found redundant and irrelevant parts of the book that could be left out. These alone were burdening. As well, there were a significant number of editing issues that a professional editor would catch and polish up. Because of these issues, it was hard for me to convince myself to continue reading, but after reading reviews of the book, I continued with the challenge.
The second half of the book became more urgent than the first half, and the writing style changed to give the plot more flow and begged interest to move forward. I enjoyed reading the second half because the writing was more grounded. In fact, a few chapters did end up being page-turners, but the whole book fell short of the thriller genre.
I believe Michael Oborn has a gift of writing and could have his work developed into thrillers worth mentioning. His dedication to research the topic is noted and his knowledge of alcohol dependency and addiction certainly comes through in his writing. Although fiction, I do encourage readers interested in some aspects of the Mormon Church to check out The Complete Mystery of Matthew Alcott: Heritage of Secrets. I think you will find it fascinating.