Death in the Covenant

NEW YORK, NY  -- When Detective Abish “Abbie” Taylor is called to the scene of a car crash late one night, she couldn’t begin to imagine the chaos it will cause in her life. The driver turns out to be a leader in the Mormon church that Abbie was raised in, and she soon becomes convinced that the crash was not an accident. 

In “Death in the Covenant” (Aug. 13, 2019, Crooked Lane Books), Abbie’s investigation into the death of  an apostle leads her to a commune of women living together, arousing her suspicions about the church’s possible return to polygamy. 

As she pushes further into the church community that she used to consider her home, she begins to uncover startling truths that will threaten her father’s place in the church and her very life.

D. A. Bartley is a member of Daughters of Utah Pioneers. She traces her family history back to the earliest days of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She spent much of her childhood in Utah, but her parents were incurable travelers. She was born in Scotland and lived in Germany, France and Russia. After studying international relations, politics and law, D. A. worked both as an attorney and an academic in Manhattan. In the end, though, she could not escape her life-long love of mysteries. She lives in New York City with her family. Keep up with her at

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The growth of the Mormon Church has slowed. Young men are abandoning the Church, leaving their female counterparts unmarried and childless. Now, the Church is about to lose one more member … and it may be due to murder.

Detective Abish “Abbie” Taylor returned to the mountain town of Pleasant View, Utah, hoping for a quiet life. But that hope dissipates like a dream when she wakes to an unsettling phone call. Arriving at the scene of a fatal car accident, she discovers that the victim was one of the most beloved leaders of the Church — and an old family friend.

Abbie is skeptical when her father insists the death was not an accident, but in an attempt to patch up their relationship, she takes a few days off from her job as the sole detective in the police department, and heads to Colonia Juárez, a former LDS colony in Mexico. There, she uncovers a plan hearkening back to the Church’s history of polygamy. But Abbie knows too well that bringing secrets to light can be deadly. Is that why her father’s friend died?

Abbie realizes with a jolt that her investigation could cost her father his job and possibly get him excommunicated. Who is the murderous mastermind of this secret plot? Time is running out for Abbie to save her father’s position—and her own life—as dark forces close in, and the outlook for Pleasant View turns decidedly unpleasant. 

D.A. Bartley | Aug. 13, 2019 | Publisher
978-1-64385-119-8 | hardcover | $26.99
978-1-64385-120-4 | ePub | $17.99
Cozy mystery

An Interview with
D.A. Bartley

  1. What are some of the challenges presented by writing a series as opposed to a standalone novel? 

I love writing a series because it lets me leave the story messy. I’m a fan of the classic murder mystery: you start off with a body (or bodies) and end up discovering the killer. With a series, you have to solve that murder puzzle, but you can leave some things unresolved. Relationships evolve, romance develops, and rivalries wax and wane. I like that little muddle and disorder. 

  1. When you plot out your books, do you already know all of the twists and turns and the whodunit?

Not even remotely! The week I finished the first draft of Death in the Covenant, I knew I was at the end of the story, and I knew there were only a few people who could’ve done it, but until I sat down to write, I wasn’t sure which of those people would be ultimately responsible. Once I started writing, and the characters started talking and doing things, it became clear what had to happen. 

  1. You handle issues dealing with faith very sensitively. How do you tread that line?

I know what it’s like to live in a world dominated by religion and what it’s like to live in a world that’s distinctly a-religious. Growing up, I spent three hours every Sunday at church. On top of that, I served as president of the various young women’s organizations, played church volleyball and basketball, sang in the choir, and performed in theatrical/musical shows. Church was a big part of my everyday life. Even though I’m not a member now, I still go to church with my dad when I’m in Utah. Having said that, I believe in openness and doubt. I believe it’s critical to question your belief system and to engage in open and respectful conversation. If we don’t know our past--and own up to it--it’s difficult to move forward into a better and more compassionate world.

  1. How accurate is the history and doctrine brought up in the book?

Everything factual--history, scripture, doctrine--is accurate, or at least as accurate as possible. Everything else is completely made up. That’s really the fun part of writing Mormon murder mysteries; I get to play around with some very macabre and strange bits of LDS history and doctrine. In Blessed Be the Wicked, it’s blood atonement; in Death in the Covenant, it’s polygamy and the recent uptick in young men leaving the Church. For number three, the jumping-off point is the Book of Mormon founding story. There’s a long list of curious and dark aspects of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that make for delightful murder motifs.

  1. How familiar with the Mormon church do you need to be to read this series?

Not at all familiar. The underlying themes--family, personal beliefs, our relationships with our communities and our history--are universal. Granted, Mormonism has its quirks. It’s sometimes challenging to write about the unique aspects of LDS culture without being either boring, because I give too much information, or baffling, because I provide too little. Undoubtedly, I’ve made mistakes along the way. Overall, though, I’m thrilled with the feedback: my non-Mormon friends loved learning about the truly odd history of the Church, and my Mormon friends loved reading a novel that accurately reflects living in Utah without being either saccharine or bitter. 


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