The Doomsday Mother: Lori Vallow, Chad Daybell, and the End of an American Family

St. Martin’s. Jan. 2022. 304p. ISBN 9781250276674. $28.99. CRIME
Glatt (Golden Boy: A Murder Among the Manhattan Elite) pieces together a bizarre account of murder. In 2019, the disappearances of seven-year-old J. J. Vallow and 16-year-old Tylee Ryan, a brother and sister from Idaho, generated extensive national media attention. When their bodies were found in 2020, the siblings’ mother, Lori Vallow, and her husband, Chad Daybell, were charged with their murders, as well as with the murder of Daybell’s former wife. Here, through interviews with Vallow and Daybell’s friends and family, Glatt reconstructs events leading up to the disappearances of J. J. and Tylee and postulates that the children were murdered because Vallow and Daybell belonged to a doomsday cult called Preparing a People, and Vallow believed her children had been replaced by zombies. Glatt examines Vallow’s and Daybell’s early lives and shows how they became susceptible to such ideas. Next, he looks at their relationship to see how the couple’s obsession led to their cult involvement and, allegedly, to murder. In addition to his interviews, Glatt also relies on court documents and police reports to enhance his analysis.
VERDICT True crime fans will likely be interested in Glatt’s fascinating account, which comes out before Vallow’s and Daybell’s upcoming trials, but the book might become outdated as new information surfaces about this ongoing case.
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