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PDF á Salamander: The Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders with a New Afterword å Drawing from s of pages of police reports, court documents, interviews, letters diaries, Sillitoe s Roberts s narrative cuts thru the complexities of this famous crime investigation to deliver a gripping, Capote esque tale They embrace the details, then lay them out systematically as seen thru the eyes of the detectives, victims perpetrator The darkest secrets unravel gradually, allowing readers fleeting glimpses of the infamous salamander as it ducks in out of its fabricator s head What was the salamander letter why were so many people determined to possess conceal it Why was this one of the most unusual cases in American forensic history A skilled con artist by anyone s assessment, Mark Hofmann eluded exposure by police document authenticators the FBI, Library of Congress, the LDS church historical department polygraph experts until George Throckmorton discovered the tell tale microscopic alligatoring that was characteristic of the forgeries What ensued was a suspense ridden cat mouse game between seasoned prosecutors a clever, homicidal criminal In the end, this story verifies the saying that sometimes truth is stranger than fiction A non fiction I stumbled on by reading Charlie Lovett s Bookman s Tale In that book, which deals with a forged historical document one of the characters refers to Salamander the Story of the Mormon Forgery Murders I just HAD to get it.and it was a super read. I d actually give this book 3.5 stars if I had the option It was readable and I have several other books about the case I haven t read yet so I will need to read them to see how other authors handled the amount of information involved in this complicated and convoluted case I don t think the two writers of the book had much experience in writing true crime, and this showsin the structure of the book and oft confusing characters emerging briefly in the story and reemerging two hundred pag I d actually give this book 3.5 stars if I had the option It was readable and I have several other books about the case I haven t read yet so I will need to read them to see how other authors handled the amount of information involved in this complicated and convoluted case I don t think the two writers of the book had much experience in writing true crime, and this showsin the structure of the book and oft confusing characters emerging briefly in the story and reemerging two hundred pages later A list of the dramatic personae at the front of the book would have been of great help The authors are professional writers, so the writing was well done but its minutiae inducedthan its fare share of longueurs.The events of the story are now over 30 years old, so I will assume that many readers will recall them well enough that I do not have to warn of spoilers The story is rather simple Mark Hofman, a clever dealer in antiquities, is also a clever forger The story takes place in Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas and Hofman specializes in selling ancient and forged documents to the leaders of the Mormon LDS Church The Mormons seem obsessed with any historical documents, particularly those that disparage the LDS Church in any way or cast doubt on Joseph Smith s Divine revelation.To the authors credit, both are apparently involved in the close knit Mormon historical document community but no attempts are made to hide the complicity of the Mormon leaders in inadvertently aiding and abetting Hofmann s forgeries Hofmann is from a staunch Mormon family and is tightly connected to the LDS Church, though he admits later that he lost his faith in Mormon Doctrine at an early age Church leaders are interested in antiquities that both prove the Church s official history and also want to suppress any documents that cast a negative light on the Church s rather bizarre history.Hofmann is basically a sociopath who becomes expert in forging fake documents and selling them to other avid collectors and to LDS Church officials After years of duping other historical document dealers and LDS grand poobahs, not to mention expert authenticators of the documents, Hofmann finally ends up deep in debt and at odds with Church authorities His solution to losing his credibility is to murder several people with pipe bombs One of the bombings eliminates a pesky colleague with higher moral standards who is on the verge of exposing Hofmann as being duplicitous and underhanded, thus ending his already chequered document dealing career The other bomb is a diversion A 3rd bomb explodes in Hoffman s car while he is inside it, injuring but not killing him Hofmann is immediately the main suspect in all the bombings after being injured by the third bomb and a large part of the book is devoted to the Salt Lake City Police Department s effort, along with the ATF, in building a case against Hofmann While building the bombing murder cases, a motive is sought and police and prosecutors put in a tremendous amount of work to tie Hofmann to the bombings and to decipher his forgeries and to establish his motives for the murders.The authors offer a fascinating glimpse into the world of Mormon antiquity trading and the ineptitude of various document authenticators who had pronounced most of Hofmann s documents as being real This was an interesting tale about a clever sociopath who has achieved a sort of legendary infamous status in the LDS Church community In the hands of an experienced andorganized true crime writer, this could have been a five star book As written, it is a flawed, three star book that still tells an interesting story Incredibly detailed account of Mark Hofman murders that took place in Salt Lake City in the mid 1980s I appreciated the details about LDS church leaders like Hinckley and Pinnock who purchased forgeries from Hofmann or helped line up massive loans for Hofmann I also found the forensic details around the old paper and ink fascinating My only complaint with the book is the legal details bog things down near the end of the book and the back and forth starting with the murders, then providing de Incredibly detailed account of Mark Hofman murders that took place in Salt Lake City in the mid 1980s I appreciated the details about LDS church leaders like Hinckley and Pinnock who purchased forgeries from Hofmann or helped line up massive loans for Hofmann I also found the forensic details around the old paper and ink fascinating My only complaint with the book is the legal details bog things down near the end of the book and the back and forth starting with the murders, then providing details about the players, followed by the legal process got a bit confusing at times Just as Hofmann delivered the bombs, the story forwards to the legal proceedings and loses some of its excitement These are minor quibbles Brent Metcalfe, on an interview with John Dehlin and Mormon Stories, recommended Salamander as the most balanced book on this sad historical account of one of the saddest moments in Utah and LDS history An interesting read.