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The Mormon Murders

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  995 ratings  ·  107 reviews
On October 15, 1985, two pipe bombs shook the calm of Salt Lake City, Utah, killing two people. The only link-both victims belonged to the Mormon Church. The next day, a third bomb was detonated in the parked car of church-going family man, Mark Hoffman. Incredibly, he survived. It wasn't until authorities questioned the strangely evasive Hoffman that another, more shockin ...more
Paperback, 560 pages
Published April 5th 2005 by St. Martin's Paperbacks (first published January 1st 1988)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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Jill Hutchinson
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-crime
Let me start this review with a disclaimer. I am not a Mormon (LDS) nor do I know much about that religion. As I read this book, I was rather disturbed and checked to see if the authors had been sued by the LDS but they had not; therefore, I have to think that their conclusions of the church's involvement in this story are close enough to the truth to avoid litigation.

In 1985 two pipe bombs exploded in peaceful Salt Lake City killing two individuals and then a third detonated two days later, sev
Sep 08, 2008 rated it it was amazing
"To Fred Harmon (devout Mormon, chief ATF investigator), the real villain was President Gordon B. Hinckley. He saw no chagrin on Hinckley's broad, implacable face. No repentance. No apologies. No admission of wrongdoing. Just arrogance--plain unbridled arrogance. As far as he was concerned, Hinckley had fallen for Mark Hofmann's blackmail, bought up damaging documents and hidden them away in his private vault, and in so doing, indirectly contributed to the deaths of two innocent people.

"And then
Jun 02, 2009 rated it did not like it
I was so interested in reading this, as I only remember bits and pieces of these murders, but the first line turned me off completely. It began with mormon type bashing written as though they authors were in completes with the Sheets and their dead wife/mother. They told how Kathy Sheets felt, what she thought and what she believed. She is dead--they never even met her...I do not feel they have the right to do this--to her or anyone else who is deceased and they have never met. I did read about ...more
Nov 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Religion, belief systems, cults, and the soul are always interesting material to read about. What attracts people to a particular belief system which other equally intelligent and educated individuals may revile or despise even though the core of that belief may stem from similar foundations? Most religions, fortunately for their followers, were created before print journalism became commonplace. Newspapers and the printed word preserve the less agreeable aspects belief in magic and the occult ...more
Ryan Crompton
Apr 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book is a good but somewhat flawed account of the Hoffman killings that rocked Salt Lake in the mid-80's.

Much like Jon Krakauer 20 years after "Mormon Murders" was written, Naifeh is a great author when he confines himself to facts in evidence but loses credibility when he speculates or otherwise exposes his coastal provincialism. There were two items in particular that bothered me -- the hearsay idea that Jerald Tanner's phone was bugged in the 70's (the basis for this claim is Jerald's cl
Jim Whitefield
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If this book had been fiction, I would have rated it one of the best crime thrillers I have ever read. The fact that it is a true story about real people, including murder and mayhem, forgery, bribery, surreptitious bank loans arranged by Mormon hierarchy, cover ups, and legal ‘deals’, along with Mormon Church leaders lying completely about even knowing Hoffman, it takes my rating to ‘beyond belief’. This is not a boring work about a legal process; it is a fast paced, gritty, edge of seat thrill ...more
Oct 28, 2012 rated it liked it
This book is a bit disturbing and a little slanted I would say. There are some things that probably shouldn't have been published here (view spoiler). That being said, it's pretty crazy the extent to which Mark Hoffman went in order to make a few bucks and how blinding stupid people gave him money and took his word for things. I must say that it's great that Hoffman was willing to explain some of how thin ...more
Oct 11, 2015 rated it it was ok
I would probably give this book a 2 1/2, but I didn't round up. I knew nothing about this story when I started. I really enjoyed the first part of the book that introduced all the characters and set the stage. It was pretty informative and interesting. I also enjoyed the last few chapters from the preliminary hearing forward that brought everything together. I would have given the book 3 1/2 starts for these sections. Theses sections were more of a factual summary with little personal interpreta ...more
Carla JFCL
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is a really interesting book about crimes that somehow I had never heard of (though, in my defense, the major ones happened 25 years ago and who knows what I was paying attention to in the world then ... )

I did have some trouble following events in the book, because there are dozens of main "players," numerous documents and several different locations to keep straight. I didn't think these were handled very well, as the writing lacked some continuity and good transitions. At times it seemed
♥ Marlene♥
Wow.What a disgusting mess that mormon church is/was okay is.. I do not believe their attitude has changed. It's all about protecting their religion which is more important than everything else.I can see why? Well I can see why the men want to. They are like Gods,can say they want that done because God told them and their wife and children obey. There are a lot of men who want that power as we see with many religions. Muslim comes to mind.Tomethosemen are not men but boys. They have to be in con ...more
Jun 20, 2013 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was well written and researched and had some really interesting things about the LDS church (my church I am mormon) that I didn't know. However, I did have to laugh a little at how they talked about leadership positions in the church and how people just want to be a Bishop or Stake President or General Authority so badly. I dont think they realize these are not paid positions and I for one never want to be any of those things despite having been Elders qu ...more
Oct 29, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: inquiring minds
I actually have the hard back - what's left of it. It took me nearly 2 months to finish it during a hectic period, (it was carried in my purse to Egypt and back) that by the time I was done, the book was as decrepit as if someone had bombed this book that expells the secrets of the bombings and murders by Mormons in the '80's. The story is told point blank - like an FBI agent giving a brief. (2 lawyers wrote it.) Yet, to it's credit, because it's to the point- with so many parties and so much BS ...more
Jill Crosby
Aug 07, 2014 rated it really liked it
Through the use of extensive interviews and research, Naifeh & Roberts bring to light the politics, the science, the theology, and the drama of the Mark Hofman forgery/bombing case, untangling the strange motivations and the investigation into those motivations by focusing on personalities along with a thorough sifting of the evidence in this case.
Brett Bydairk
Jul 20, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: true crime fans
A true-crime book that also reveals the true nature of The Church Of Christ Of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormons): founded by a con-man, who possibly was killed by his brother Joseph Smith, another con artist, this is a fascinating account of
lies, murder, and Temple politics.
Hugely damning of the Mormon Church in general and Gordon Hinckley in specific. The crimes of Mark Hofmann, forgery/fraud and murder, play an interesting companion to the cover-up by the church and it's influence over the legal proceedings. ...more
Sherry Haning
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Great book! Learned a lot about the Mormons and how easily they were fooled.
Oct 31, 2019 rated it did not like it
Well, I made it to chapter 6. It's written Ann Rule-style - where it reads like a novel instead of a regular non-fiction account. I liked that. However, I got to the point where I couldn't tolerate anymore thinly-veiled (when the trouble was even taken) animosity towards the LDS faith. There seemed to me to be an awful lot more focus on the Church itself rather than those who were involved in the pipe bombing. The perpetrator had been baptized LDS, but by his own admission, had stopped believing ...more
One of the longest books I've ever read (516 pages, including an extensive index – though I didn't read that, I must confess) and also one of the fastest. Naifeh & Smith have a talent for plot, suspense, and foreshadowing as they unspool the story of a dangerous but mild-mannered young Mormon named Mark Hoffman.

The title misled me. I thought the Mormon Church went around blowing people up (a photograph of a crude bomb dominates the cover), but in fact this highly American religion is ruled by fo
Anne Marie
Jul 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: couldn-t-finish
So I didn’t finish reading this book (didn’t even make it to page 100 out of 443 pages.) It wasn’t that it was a terrible book, just too long, a lot of detail, I’m not interested in the Mormon church, and it was much easier to watch the short synopsis on uTube, which explained everything I needed to know.
Back in 1985, someone sets off pipe bombs, killing Kathy Sheets, Steve Christensen, and the bomber injuring himself. At first, people thought the bomber was someone who lost all their money in
Cole Ramirez
The Mormon Murders is a detailed exposition of the 1985 Salt Lake City bombings by Mark Hofmann. It covers Hofmann's forgery and ponzi scheme that led to the bombings, the LDS church's involvement and cover up, and the trial upset that grossly under-sentenced a man who not only killed two innocent people but committed over twenty acts of fraud.

The story itself is both bizarre and enthralling. It sheds a pretty negative light on the Mormon Church, both in terms of their gullibility and their effo
Aug 09, 2018 rated it liked it
I am not an LDS member nor do I live in Utah. This is an interesting book, well researched, but somewhat biased. What it does expose is the extent to which the church leadership went to put on a facade of respectability and to retain their power and the "good name" of the church. It was quite sinister and convoluted.

What would have been helpful is a one age flowchart of the leadership structure of the church--and how they all interacted at one time or another with the murderer. At times it was
Feb 14, 2020 rated it it was ok
I wanted to learn more about the Salamander Letter and the Hoffman bombings, and found this book. While it did help me learn more about these topics, I thought it was pretty slanted and negative towards the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. As a member of the church, I believe and support the brethren that lead the church. I found the portrayal of both President Hinckley and President Oaks totally one-sided. Of course these men would want to protect the church. Of course these men are ...more
Phoebe Evans
Jul 30, 2019 rated it did not like it
I wanted to know the history but found this book BASED on a true story not THE ACTUAL story. The characters were well developed but I think that this was the issue. They were characters that the author created with feelings even if they didn’t ever say that they felt that way. I eventually stopped and just read the facts online. So if you want a good story about this incident read it. But if you want the facts free from an authors interpretations of everyone’s feelings and intentions then don’t. ...more
Jun 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've long been fascinated by the forgeries and bombings that rocked Salt Lake City and the LDS community in 80's. This book, published in 1988 is amazingly comprehensive. Back then, when this story was in the headlines, I'd imagine the most ardent case watchers would have LOVED this book. For me, so many years later and at 541 pages, it was too much. 300 pages would be great today. All of that said, I learned a lot and think the authors were very thoughtful in how they approached a sensitive sub ...more
Suri Thomas
Feb 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Extremely detailed and well researched! As a relative of 30 victims from the
Mountain Meadows massacre, the violence inherent in this book was not a great surprise.
I was amazed at the gullibility of investors who bankrolled Hoffman in such an enterprise.
Greed tends to collect strange bedfellows.
Nov 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Interesting read about a historical episode I had never heard of: a series of pipe bombings in Salt Lake City in 1985, which killed two people. It's a fascinating tale deeply interwoven with Mormonism, which is of course deeply interwoven with Salt Lake City - replete with religious relics, forged documents, cover-ups, the stuff of Dan Brown novels. The action does flag a bit in the middle as a very tedious series of financial transactions is described, but otherwise it's a gripping read. The Mo ...more
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Excellent. Well researched and jam packed with information on the Mormon forger and bomber who tragically killed two innocent people. I am not Mormon so I did not find it particularly biased. I could only wish for more background on the evil Mark Hoffman who was the perpetrator of fraud and murder. Highly recommend for true crime readers. RIP Steve Christensen and Kathy Sheets.
Sep 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
The title of this book is offputting and inaccurate and offensive - it should really be called “the antique document dealer murders” or “a long book that has a first fascinating half about forging niche documents that are super valuable to just a few people and then switches over to a murder trial”
Robert Jackson
Feb 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Not bad. Could have been written better though.
Sep 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: crime, religion, ill, 1980s
Interesting, but the giant cast of characters was a little hard to follow.
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