Wednesday, November 16, 2011

review: prophet's prey by sam brower

Before writing Prophet’s Prey, Sam Brower spent years investigating the Fundamentalist Church of Latter-Day Saints (FLDS) and their leader Warren Jeffs. Brower was raised in the mainstream Mormon church, but left for a few years before returning upon marrying and having kids so he knows a little more than most about the break between the fundamentalists and the mainstream. As such, he provides an interesting perspective.

Sam Brower works as a private investigator, so he seemed a natural person to provide assistance when the Chatwin family was expelled from the FLDS community. After taking that first case in 2004, Brower became deeply involved in investigating every aspect of the FLDS. His own life was placed in jeopardy a number of times because of his actions which he thoroughly documents in Prophet’s Prey. The atrocities he uncovered (many of which have become known through media coverage of Warren Jeffs’s criminal trials) are horrifying. Thankfully he doesn’t delve into graphic detail, but does make clear just how far reaching the abuse of children was. Most astonishing was the number of non-FLDS who did nothing or worse. When someone claiming to be abused at the YFZ Ranch called a crisis hotline, CPS eventually moved in and removed the children. The FLDS made the process of determining parentage and whether or not there’d been abuse incredibly difficult and time-consuming, but District Judge Barbara Walther was prepared to hear the case. Unfortunately, Brower tells of how CPS simply didn’t follow the rules. The judge had ordered DNA testing, but CPS started returning children to people claiming to be their parents. Nothing prevented these people, who may or may not have been the biological parents, from placing the children in abusive situations. Nearly every page contains shocking discoveries like that.

Although the material is gripping, Prophet’s Prey lacks a cohesive narrative. Brower jumps around at times and repeats some stories along the way. The book is informative, but could use a little editing.
Review copy from Amazon Vine.

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