A Lena Jones Mystery by Betty Webb
Review: Scottsdale (AZ) private investigator Lena Jones looks into an unusual case of polygamy and murder in Desert Lost, the sixth mystery in this series by Betty Webb.
The life of a PI is not always as exciting as one sees on television. Lena is pulling one of her more boring jobs — staking out a storage yard waiting for taggers to swarm over a wall and spray paint nasty things on the sides of snowbird's Winnebagos — when a car pulls up and dumps the body of a woman on the pavement. She's dressed in the traditional manner of a sister-wife, that is, a woman who shares her husband with other women. Believing the nearest polygamist camp to be hundreds of miles away in Utah, Lena can't imagine how she came to be here. Somewhat less surprising, though, are the number of boys who, at 18 years old, are kicked out of the polygamist's families by the elder male, and become street rogues in the states neighboring Utah. Often poorly schooled, Lena has worked with them in the past, taking them to safe houses where they can learn a trade.
With the help of a former sister-wife, Lena identifies the dead woman, Celeste King. But soon afterward, one of boys Lena has helped, Jonah King, is accused of killing her, his mother. Lena isn't sure whether he's guilty or not, but he's alone and needs help, and Lena wants to be there for him … just as someone was there for her during her own troubled youth.
The murder mystery plot in Desert Lost is often supplanted by backstories and subplots of Lena's own past and the families of polygamists. Tragic and touching at the same time, they serve as both a complement to and a backdrop for her investigation, but also are an important message in and of themselves — albeit delivered in a somewhat heavy-handed manner. Still, the mystery itself is well-crafted, the characters interesting, compelling, and realistically drawn. Fans of the series will likely count this entry as one of the author's best.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Desert Lost.
Acknowledgment: Poisoned Pen Press provided an ARC of Desert Lost for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Anteater of Death
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), December 2008
ISBN-13: 9781590585603; ISBN-10: 1590585607
The Koala of Death
Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover), August 2010
ISBN-13: 9781590587560; ISBN-10: 1590587561
Location(s) referenced in Desert Lost: Scottsdale, Arizona
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Desert Lost by Betty Webb — A Lena Jones Mystery
Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press
Publication Date: December 2009
List Price: $24.95