Jon Horton
Jackson Hole Mysteries
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Welcome to the official website of
J. Royal Horton aka Jon R. Horton
Author of the Jackson Hole Mysteries

The back cover copy on my new book reads: “Murder in Moab is the third in J. Royal Horton’s Jackson Hole Mysteries series. Detective Tommy Thompson has seen strange pace, people and things. But when a murder in his Jackson Hole bailiwick leads him to Moab, Utah some fundamentalist polygamists, Navajo Pentecostal snake handlers, a Mormon militia, militant lesbians and a very unorthodox rabbi teach a tough Wyoming cop a thing or three about weird. Get in, put on your seat belt, and get ready for a heckuva ride.”

Craig Johnson, the newest star in the constellation of Western detective novelists, and who ranks with C.J. Box as a writer, says: “There is a singular honesty in Horton’s Murder in Moab, a strong voice that speaks with authenticity.” Perhaps that comes from the fact that I am an ex-deputy sheriff who worked at the Park County Sheriff’s office in Cody, Wyoming for some years. And the other fact that I am the great-great-grandson of a Mormon polygamist who had eleven wives, forty-eight children and some two hundred grandchildren. So I consider myself qualified to write about crime as well as historical Mormonism and Polygamy, though I have not practiced the formal religion since childhood. Besides polygamy I am also familiar with some of the historical practices and secret rites of the Old Order that some fundamentalist Mormons still practice. Those include marriage to adolescent women and blood atonement—when it becomes necessary to “spill on the ground the heart’s blood” of someone in order to save their soul.

Though I don’t consider myself a true Latter Day Saint I am enormously proud of my pioneer heritage and love the religion for its profoundly American and universal values. The renowned critic Harold Bloom, a Jew, has written: “The Mormons are like the Jews in that theirs is a religion that has became a people.”

I was fascinated by that thought and the insight became an intellectual jumping-off point for my novel, based on the facts of the Jews being the alpha and the Mormons being the omega religions of monotheism. I wondered what would happen if two messianic types from the religions, both profoundly convinced of their missions on earth, met face to face in the American Zion. If one considers the idea that if almost all the major personalities in both the Old and New Testaments were evaluated according to the standards of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, they would almost assuredly be considered profoundly neurotic, delusional, or insane. With that in mind, and intending to put my hero into a personal crisis that would be resolved in the course of the last two books in the series, Murder Under the Sleeping Indian and Murder in Yellowstone, I create a situation that begins with an investigation and gradually descends into chaos. And everyone goes nuts.

Jon Horton

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