Reviews > Published on May 30th, 2017

Bookshots: 'The Scientology Murders' by William Heffernan

Bookshots: Pumping new life into the corpse of the book review


The Scientology Murders: A Dead Detective Novel

Who wrote it?

William Heffernan is the Edgar Award–winning author of nineteen novels, including the international best sellers The Corsican and The Dinosaur Club, as well as The Dead Detective. Heffernan was a New York City newspaper reporter who was nominated three times for the Pulitzer Prize.

Plot in a box:

If you are a thriller or mystery reader and curious about the inner workings of Scientology, then The Scientology Murders is a must read.

Told in an engaging, tight third-person voice, The Scientology Murders concerns a Scientology member who has started killing people, which the church frowns on, unless the people being killed are psychiatrists. They really hate psychiatrists. Detective Harry Doyle, known as "The Dead Detective," finds out his adoptive father has been wounded by the unclear killer. Doyle takes the case and delves deep into the dark side of Clearwater, Florida, and all the away to Alaska. 

Invent a new title for this book:

Xenu Knocks Twice or Northern Exterior

Read this if you like(d):

The idea of a cool detective novel written by Leah Remini.

Meet the book’s lead(s):

Harry Doyle—known as the Dead Detective.

Vicky Stanopolis—Harry's partner

Regis Walsh—head of the Florida Church of Scientology

Said lead(s) would be portrayed in a movie by:

Harry Doyle—Tom Cruise (seriously, he would actually be good)

Vicky Stanopolis—Tina Fey

Regis Walsh—Ralph Fiennes or the creepy young republican from The Purge.

Setting: Would you want to live there?

Clearwater, Florida and Alaska present day. Nope. 

What was your favorite sentence?

If someone I loved fell under Scientology’s spell, I’d be scared shitless for them.

The Verdict:

This is a fun and fast paced novel. Heffernan builds on the fascinating lore of the newest American “religious” movement with an intriguing mix of crime, mystery, thriller, and noir. Harry Doyle has a brutal backstory and the killer still creeps me out. There are some moments where the exposition took me out of the story, but Heffernan would usually find his groove and keep me engrossed. If you are a thriller or mystery reader and curious about the inner workings of Scientology, then The Scientology Murders is a must read.

Get The Scientology Murders at Amazon

About the author

Christoph Paul is the Managing Editor and owner of CLASH Books, who have published over 60 books and have been covered by NPR, Poets & Writers, Rolling Stone, Believer Magazine, Oprah Magazine, The Observer, Fangoria, and Publisher's Weekly. The press has had books translated into Spanish, French, and Italian. He has been editing books in almost every genre for over a decade. As an author, he won a humor award and had viral cult success under a pen name. He is the lead singer and bass player of the rock band The Dionysus Effect, who have received positive reviews in Loudwire, EARMILK, and Red Rock Magazine. He sometimes writes songs about the books he publishes because even artists are inspired by their day jobs. Follow him on Twitter @christophpaul_ @clashbooks @dionysuseffect.

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