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City of Saints: A Mystery (Art Oveson #1)

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  346 Ratings  ·  74 Reviews
To the outside observer, Salt Lake City might seem to be the squeaky-clean “City of Saints”—its nickname since Mormon pioneers first arrived. Its wide roads, huge Mormon temple topped by a horn-blowing angel, and orderly neighborhoods give it the appearance of the ideal American city, but looks can be deceiving.

When a beautiful socialite turns up dead, Art Oveson, a twenty
ebook, 336 pages
Published October 30th 2012 by Minotaur Books
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(showing 1-30)
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Stephanie Jewett
If you're not Mormon and are hoping to read a "Mormon mystery" or get some info about the church, this is not the place to find it. The main character is LDS, as are several of the characters, but that just provides some background for the story.

If you are Mormon and are looking for a "Mormon mystery", this is also not the place to find it. This is not a feel-good story with characters that share your standards- even several of the ostensibly Mormon characters are corrupt or even evil. This is
Aug 12, 2013 Kim rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Minor spoilers. Being a non-mormon born and bred Utahn, as well as 2nd generation law enforcement, I was really interested in this book. I'm sorry it didn't hold up to it's promise. It didn't help going into the story knowing this is still an unsolved cold case. I found the lead character, Deputy Oveson a weak spined coward. He's so scared of losing his job, he can't even find the guts to stand up to the Sheriff even after being awarded the reward money that will help see him thru. Even if you s ...more
Jan 10, 2016 Joyce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book I've read by this author. It interested me for a couple reasons: it won the Tony Hillerman prize ( and I love Tony Hillerman!), and I love reading stories based in the southwest. This is a murder mystery and it's actually a fictionalized version of an actual murder that took place in in that city in 1930. The story was a little slow moving at first, but became more interesting and fast-paced by the halfway point. In fact, from then on, I didn't want to put it down. The aut ...more
Sorry but this book was just horrible. I forced myself to read to page 100 just to give it a chance. The green, sweet little Mormon sheriff seriously annoyed me. The author's attempt to add background for SLC and weave in some Mormon practices was spectacularly boring and ham-handed as well. The book was set in the 30s. That worked. At one point, for me, the dialog and the characters turned into a black and white movie from that era complete with jerky movements and squeaky voices. The author is ...more
Oct 19, 2014 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved so many things about this book!!
I loved the setting, the detective's character, the historical details. The first half of the book, 5 all the way. Though the ending was forced, I loved the tone so I'm sticking to my 4 and an overall recommendation to read away.
Note: the back-cover made me feel like I'd be reading a Mormon-expose, which this was not. It's general fiction with one character who is authentically devout living among people--some of whom share his faith, some of whom don't.
Doug Calvert
Sep 17, 2014 Doug Calvert rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interested read. Keeps you guessing until it all get wrapped up tight, complete with confessions. But the ending left me feeling a bit disappointed somehow. Still, very fascinating historical context. Well thought-out and overall well executed.
Jul 28, 2013 Noel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really really wanted to like this, but the inaccuracies were just too overwhelming. You just can't go to Lagoon in February.
Dec 19, 2012 Anna rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mehhh. Creative crime storyline, but written as flat as a pancake. Skip.
David Harris
Feb 07, 2017 David Harris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An interesting look at 1930s Salt Lake City through the eyes of a police detective investigating a murder. This is the first of two books featuring Art Oveson, a Latter Day Saint law enforcement officer of the early 1930s. I think the author gets minor details here and there wrong but, for the most part, it's a colorful and entertaining read.
Dec 15, 2016 Elizabeth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, mysteries
This was a good mystery with a unique setting, even if Art Oveson was a bit slow on the uptake to solve the mystery--it gave me a chance to try to solve it before he did. It was still an interesting plot and I'll certainly keep reading the others in the series.
Jan 02, 2017 Tim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The reason I initially purchased this book turned out to be why I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. I'd just returned from visiting my uncle, who was born in Utah in the 1930s. After a weekend of reminiscing about growing up here, I came across a review about Hunt's latest book, Desolation Flats. It sounded interesting and I've always been fascinated by the history of Utah, so I thought I'd give Hunt's City of Saints a try.

I found the historical descriptions distracting, almost as if
Frank Ogden
Jan 02, 2017 Frank Ogden rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of a series set in Salt Lake City. Wonderful writing and intriguing plot. Cannot wait to read the next one.
May 24, 2014 Alger rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An undemanding read that has the bones of a good mystery novel, has the edge of being a kind of true crime novel, but Hunt completely lacks the chops of a good fiction writer when it comes to characterizations and dialogue. His primary characters are vague and defined mostly by quirks that they exhibit relentlessly, while the peripheral characters are empty suits that are easy to confuse and never really come to life.

The biggest smile of the novel came at the end where Hunt cited a pictorial loc
Feb 26, 2013 Neil rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of the murder of an adulterous socialite in 1930 Salt Lake City, based on a true case. Art Oveson of the Sheriff's Department investigates, but he's also caught up in departmental politics, Mormon vs. Nonmormon sectarianism, and family rivalries, all making his investigation more challenging.

Since I was born in Utah, lived in Salt Lake City for almost 10 years, have family history there, and am interested in history in general, I was quite looking forward to this novel. On the
Jan 17, 2013 Stewart rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lds
First off, I want to say that City of Saints was NOT was I expected it to be. I went into this book expecting a dark book filled with mystery and Mormon intrigue. Now don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, it just didn't fit my prior expectations.

City of Saints is a fictionalized version of a true unsolved murder that occurred in Salt Lake City in the 1930s. Andrew Hunt took a lot of liberty in telling the story so very little is true to fact other than time periods and a few rename
When beautiful socialite Helen Kent Pfalzgraf turns up dead, Salt Lake County Deputy Art Oveson—a twenty-something husband, dad, and devout Mormon just getting his start—finds himself thrust into the role of detective. With his partner, a foul-mouthed, vice-ridden former strikebreaker, he begins to pursue Pfalzgraf’s murderer—or murderers. Their search takes them into the dark underbelly of Salt Lake City, a place rife with blackmail, corruption and murder.

Throw in a cowardly sheriff seeking re
Linda Munro
Oct 21, 2012 Linda Munro rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Again, I found this book listed amongst the goodreads contests and while I didn't win this was one such book and thankfully it was carried by the library.

This is a detective story, set in 1930 Salt Lake City, Utah. While it is not a fast paced mystery, it is indeed a good, historical mystery, filled with the prejudice of the day; from religious to ethnic, offering a good look into this country’s past.

Based on the true murder of sociality Dorothy Dexter Moormeister who was found brutally murder
Don Elder
What a confusing approach to a pro-mormon point of view. The shock value of constant F-bombs, crude sexual references and all around hard-R rated contents was... shocking considering the under-lying education value by the author on "how mormons are really sweet and good people overall". Mr. Hunt must have received many reprimands from church authorities on his use of vulgar dialogue and plot themes. I applaud Mr. Hunt for breaking-thru the strict LDS manor system to actually tell a real-life, re ...more
Aug 11, 2013 Cat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Salt Lake City, February 1930. A beautiful socialite has been killed in a remote outlying area of SLC—someone ran over her repeatedly with an automobile. The investigating officer, Sheriff's Deputy Art Oveson, a father, husband, devout Mormon, and youngest son in a family of peace officers, insists on a complete investigation, along with his older partner, Roscoe. The sheriff, on the other hand, wants a quick solution so he can use it for his upcoming reelection campaign. When Art continues his ...more
Sandy T
Although murder mysteries aren't typically my thing, I was curious to read this fictional account of an actual unsolved murder in Salt Lake City in the 1930's. I enjoyed at the beginning how Hunt set up the time and place, and enjoyed references to places I know, and surnames from prominent Utah families. But I felt the time and place got lost as the story went on and felt more modern, despite minor references to old cars and such. I found much of the story line extremely predicable at some time ...more
May 13, 2013 Dave rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-read
The book is set in northern Utah in 1930. The narrator is a Salt Lake County deputy sheriff, who has siblings in police departments from Ogden down the Wasatch Front to Provo. The mystery is sufficiently complex to keep most readers engaged. I enjoyed the historical aspect since my grandfather spent part of his childhood in Provo and was a young man during the time in which the story is set. I remember my grandfather telling me stories about his youth in Provo when I was young.

Politics, religio
Holly McIntyre
Not quite as good as I hoped it would be. The premise: rich woman brutally murdered and run over multiple times, who done it? The setting: Salt Lake City, 1930. Based on a true, unsolved murder. I had hopes that this would be both exciting and (I admit) a somewhat voyeuristic look at life in a Mormon community. It wasn't either. The Mormon aspect was hardly developed except as a contrast to the hard-drinking, hard-swearing non-Mormons. And the plot moved at a snail's pace, although to a somewhat ...more
Jun 29, 2013 Tara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The mystery aspect was intriguing. However, the main character came across as saccharine, hokey, and bland for the first half of the book. I guess the author was trying to bring out the point that he didn't drink, engage in other vices etc. That's fine, but it doesn't have to mean that the character is corny and uninteresting. About halfway through the book, the character was better developed and became easier to relate to. His skills as a detective became apparent, he stopped letting people pus ...more
This novel is set in Salt Lake, Utah in 1930, and is based on an actual murder that occurred there in that year, and remains unsolved to this day. The author takes that event, and develops several characters that were actually a part of that investigation at the time. He also definitely makes this a fictionalized account, as in his retelling, the crime is eventually solved, thanks to the tenaciousness of one law enforcement officer. The author has created an interesting character, and an intrigu ...more
Apr 01, 2015 Shannon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A little slow at times, but quite enjoyable. The idea of a Mormon detective WAY back in the day in Salt Lake City plus corrupt politicians and top lawmen getting in the way of the truth. Scandal and blackmail are present and accounted for! The fascinating mysteries are finally solved and integrity wins at the end of the day. I would love to read another story with the main characters. It provided a different perspective on Mormon life (sans extra wives).
Joel Nunez
A very surprising tale of Mormon town in the time of broads and gunslingers. Never thought that the city of saints was actually sin city. It doesn't get more noir than this: a dead blond, miscues, an obsessed cop. The only downer to this book is its plodding style. The book does pick up towards the last 100 pages or so. Based on a true story, this is Salt Lake City's Black Dahlia.

I wouldn't be surprised if this book has been optioned for a movie.
Sep 18, 2013 Becky rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I would have given this book 4 stars but the crude and profane language is so distracting. I loved the story and especially the setting (since I live in Salt Lake City). It was suspenseful and a great story.

I listened to the audio book and the reader pronounced the following wrong:

Timponogos (he said tempo No gos - it is pronounced TimpANogUs)
handkerchief (he said hanDkerchief - I'm pretty sure the D is silent)
Manti (he said Monti - it is MAnti)
Jan 28, 2013 Geoff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fun isn't really the right word to describe a murder mystery, but reading this book - which is set in 1930s Salt Lake City - was fun. The author's knowledge of the local culture and use of '30s slang kept me entertained. Also, the story is based an actual unsolved murder case in Salt Lake.

WARNING: Even though the main character is Mormon, there is some pretty harsh language in this book, including several uses of the c-word.
Brian Durfee
Bland is the best way to describe this from the writing style to the story. The book is set in 1930s Salt Lake. I live in 2013 Salt Lake. Hunt didn't transport me back in time whatsoever! Shame that. Cuz had he done just that I woulda given this 5 stars--and the writing/story would not have seemed so ho hum.
Apr 24, 2013 Denise rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Stories from this period (1920s/early 1930s) are usually not something that I am interested in but this one caught my attention. Overall a very good read - a compelling main character, and a great development of the relationship with his partner. His editor failed to catch a few too many "raised eyebrows in surprise" but I would definitely read more by this author.
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Andrew Hunt is a Professor of United States History at the University of Waterloo in Canada. He was raised in California and Utah and is the father of two. Hunt also writes a blog which is a “celebration of animal rights and vegan living”.

Andrew Hunt also publishes non-fiction under Andrew E. Hunt

Librarian's note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

More about Andrew Hunt...

Other Books in the Series

Art Oveson (3 books)
  • A Killing in Zion (Art Oveson, #2)
  • Desolation Flats (Art Oveson, #3)

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“It is enough. This is the right place.” Brigham Young uttered those words when his wagon reached the mouth of Emigration Canyon and he gazed out at this valley.” 0 likes
“Everything emanated from the temple. On the northern side of the oval Salt Lake Valley, the earliest Mormon arrivals set aside ten acres for what they called Temple Square.” 0 likes
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