- Hardcover: 336 pages
- Publisher: Minotaur Books; First Edition edition (2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781250015792
- ISBN-13: 978-1250015792
- ASIN: 1250015790
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,004,414 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
City of Saints: A Mystery Hardcover – October 30, 2012
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In Hunt’s first novel (winner of the 2011 Hillerman Prize), Salt Lake City, in 1930, seethes with wickedness under a veneer of upright Mormonism and congeniality. Political corruption, crooked cops, and sordid affairs conducted by the “saints” come to light when Helen Pfalzgraf, wife of a highly respected doctor, is killed, ripped apart by vehicular bashing. It’s an election year and a high-profile murder case quickly solved will be a feather in the sheriff’s cap. Unfortunately, Deputy Art Overman, a squeaky clean family man and devout Mormon, refuses to accept the cooked-up charges against an innocent man. Despite heavy departmental and social pressures, Art pursues the truth, sacrificing a few reputations and nearly getting himself and his partner killed in the process. Hunt, a history professor in Ontario, pens a decent period procedural, exposing gangster-era cronyism rampant in politics and law enforcement, even among people of faith. Unfortunately, moralistic Overman, while not lacking intellectual determination, is too spineless and naive to make a compelling cop: one hopes he’ll toughen up to Chandler standards in future episodes. --Jen Baker
“Andrew Hunt makes a hell of an impressive debut with City of Saints. Art Oveson is a truly unique character on the crime fiction landscape, a young, inexperienced Mormon lawman headed down streets no one would ever suspect were so mean. The Utah landscape is rugged and beautiful and the 1930s setting make this novel an irresistible read. Think a Black Mask classic directed by John Sayles and you'll get the idea.” ―Ace Atkins, New York Times bestselling author of The Lost Ones
“City of Saints is the best debut novel you'll read this year, maybe any year. It's got everything a great crime novel should have: a complicated mystery, a protagonist you root for, a place and time beautifully evoked, and an emotional intensity that often leaves you breathless. His first time at bat, Andrew Hunt has hit one way out of the ballpark.” ―William Kent Krueger, New York Times-bestselling author of Northwest Angle
“City of Saints is a terrific detective story set in Salt Lake City in the 1930s. It features a twisty, brilliant plot, great insight and historical richness regarding an area few of us know much about. Like Tony Hillerman in New Mexico, Hunt has made his old home town his own.” ―William Kent Krueger, New York Times-bestselling author of Northwest Angle
“Set in 1930, Hunt's triumphant mystery debut introduces Salt Lake County deputy Art Oveson, a loving family man and committed Mormon. … Winner of the 2011 Hillerman Prize, this hard-edged whodunit with echoes of James Ellroy warrants a sequel.” ―Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“This engrossing historical debut is set in 1930 Salt Lake City and based on a true case. Narrated … in the first person, the procedural steadily builds up steam and explodes in all the right places. History professor Hunt's title won the 2011 Tony Hillerman Prize. Pair with Sheldon Russell and Lisa Black.” ―Library Journal (starred review)
“Hunt's first-person narrative in this gritty mystery is spot on and conjures up a disturbing portrait of Salt Lake's criminal underbelly in the midst of the Great Depression.” ―Deseret News
“Terrific. … Set in Salt Lake City in 1930 and based on the real-life murder of a wealthy socialite and aspiring Hollywood actress, the novel reveals a world of political pandering and murderous machinations that we usually associate with Chicago from this period.” ―Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
“For any mystery fan this novel is absolutely worth the read.” ―The Imprint
“Andrew Hunt steeps his debut in the history of both Salt Lake City and nearby towns as it richly explores the people who settled there and the residents of the early 20th century. Hunt also explores how a person with a deep religious faith lives in an increasingly secular world. Hunt skillfully weaves all that and more, making City of Saints a first-class mystery.” ―Sun Sentinel
“An outstanding historical mystery. … Lovers of fast-paced historical noir will definitely want to read Andrew Hunt's superb City of Saints. Its unique hero, unusual locale, high body count, and intriguing mystery make it a must read.” ―Gumshoe Review
“An excellent historical novel.” ―The Globe & Mail
“Hunt, a history professor at the University of Waterloo, uses the long-forgotten but once headline-making murder of a 1930s-era Salt Lake City socialite as his narrative base, mixing in a terrifically paced plot and a memorable policeman hero. … City of Saints is full of juicy twists that go deep into Mormon doctrine and travel as far as Hollywood.” ―Sarah Weinman, National Post
“Hunt grew up in Salt Lake City and paints a vivid portrait of the ‘city of saints' in the 1930s, the tension between Mormon and non-Mormon, as straight-arrow sheriff's deputy Art Oveson investigates the brutal murder of a doctor's wife and stumbles into a cesspool of corruption and blackmail.” ―Buffalo News
“Loosely based on an actual murder case, this is a novel, but it's as compelling as the real thing.” ―The Facts
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"City of Saints" is a well-crafted, authentic-feeling, well-written murder mystery, with a great cast of characters. Andrew Hunt does a wonderful job with the dialog throughout, creates evocative settings, modulates the tension masterfully, and, in the end, creates the best mystery I've read in a while.
The protagonist, Art Oveson, is believable and sympathetic, battling some pedestrian uncertainties as he tries to move ahead in his career as a Mormon detective on a police force where that can work for or against you. Living in the shadow of his deceased father and strapping siblings, all of whom are cut of hardy police cloth, Art has to find an inner strength while in the midst of a troubling case complicated by political and power trappings. It's all woven together extremely well.
But perhaps my favorite parts of Hunt's writing in this novel are the small moments of characterization and dialog, especially the dialog. The scenes with Art and his daughter; with Art and Lund babysitting an empty house; and the quiet scenes of tragic revelations later in the novel. These are handled adroitly, with compassion, and with an artist's touch.
Overall, one of the best mysteries I've read in years. Well done, Andrew Hunt!
Must add that I lived in Salt Lake City during the 1980s & enjoyed the references to places I knew then & places I didn't.
My Dad used to talk about how it was to live in Salt Lake City in the 1930s. He said the old prophecy that SLC would one day become known as one of the wickedest cities in the world came true in the 20s and 30s. I wish I could remember more of his stories now.