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Betty Webb worked as a journalist and bases her mysteries on stories she covered as a reporter. She currently teaches creative writing at Phoenix College.


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Sometimes a book goes temporarily out of print - and sometimes no audio version has ever been recorded. Audible wants to give you the most complete selection we can and we'll keep adding series and filling in gaps as quickly as possible. While scouting locations for a film documentary on Arizona's Apache wars, private investigator Lena Jones and Oscar-winning director Warren Quinn discover the mutilated body of a young girl.

The gruesome manner of the child's death evokes memories of Lena's own rough childhood. While running surveillance in an industrial section of Scottsdale, P. Lena Jones discovers the body of a woman connected to Second Zion, an infamous polygamy cult based in northern Arizona. Lena joins forces with Rosella, a former polygamist "sister wife," to find the victim's killer and soon discovers a shocking secret: Second Zion makes certain these possible rivals don't stick around.

What she finds is a town up in arms over a new uranium mine located only ten miles from the magnificent Grand Canyon. The horrific slaughter of a prominent doctor, his wife, and their ten-year-old son inside their Scottsdale home brings US senatorial candidate Juliana Thorsson to private investigator Lena Jones. The slain family's year-old, Alison, and her boyfriend, Kyle, have confessed to the murders.

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Desert Cut

Thorsson wants to hire Lena to discover if Alison is telling the truth, but before accepting the job, Lena demands to know why a rising political star wants to involve herself with the fate of a girl she's never met. When the man who raped Scottsdale private investigator Lena Jones when she was a nine-year-old foster child is released from prison, Lena is waiting for him in the parking lot - with a big knife. Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention desert wives lena jones betty webb year old prophet solomon polygamist compound private detective fast paced united states young girl solomon royal jones mystery desert noir big love young girls arizona-utah border good job jones series daughter rebecca birth defects.

There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. Having read the Gunn Zoo mysteries, naturally I wanted to see what the author had done with the Lena Jones series--I expected they were probably "darker" in tone.

I picked up an old used copy of the first book in the series and was not disappointed; immediately ordered the next book on Kindle. These books are totally different from the Gunn Zoo mysteries--the writing and characters are more complex, and the tone is indeed "darker. Because of Lena's past we get various tidbits in the two books I've read she has a deep and lasting sorrow that stains her view of the world, especially where civilization encroaching on the desert is concerned; but that's just the stage-setting for the novels.

The first book was well-named Desert Noir. There are some dark places there for sure. Desert Wives possessed the same general ambience. The story itself was both fascinating and horrifying, and the fact that I knew Lena Jones would survive did not detract from the harrowing suspense.

Religious fanaticism "wedded" to polygamy and the many abuses resulting from both is not "light reading" but it certainly made for an interesting and different kind of story. The stakes were higher than usual in a "murder mystery" due to a young girl's involvement with the cult. There was the usual obligatory confusion of "who done it," with a lot more suspects than usual.

And a section in the back of the book discussing the facts behind the story. Needless to say, I will read the rest of the series; they've been very intriguing so far, and I want to find out more about Lena's childhood traumas As their titles remind us, the desert itself is a character in these books--one worth further exploration, as is Lena Jones herself. One person found this helpful. Lena Jones is back to work in Desert Wives and this time she is up against a polygamist compound.

Her intention was to get her client's daughter, Rebecca, out of Prophet Solomon Royal's clutches. Rebecca is only 13 years old and doesn't want to marry Prophet Solomon and her mother doesn't want that either. She had already gotten away from that life and she wants a better life for herself and her daughter. Len gets Rebecca back, but Rebecca's father Abel is determined to get her back, especially since he gets two year old brides for giving his daughter to Solomon. Lena and Rebecca also find Solomon dead on their run through the night. Solomon's death means Rebecca is free, but only as long as her mother, Esther, didn't kill him, and it looks like Esther might have done just that.

With Esther in jail awaiting extradition to Utah and Rebecca staying with her partner Jimmy's friends on the reservation, the only thing left is for Lena to go under cover in Solomon Royal's polygamist compound and find out who killed him or Rebecca will end up married to the new polygamist prophet. The clash between polygamists and the rest of the world is a meaty subject.

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Betty Webb tackles the incestuous relationships among local police and government officials and the tangled webs of polygamist families in Desert Wives. Lena is the most likely undercover agent ever since she has a hard time pretending to be meek and obedient and keeping her mouth shut. In short, Lena sticks out like a giant black ram among a herd of cowed white-fleeced sheep. She isn't very effective and spends more time sticking her nose into personal family relationships than finding out who killed Solomon Royal. The polygamist compound is a quagmire of intrigue, abuse, and male superiority with a loathsome cast of characters on all sides and everyone is a suspect.

However, Webb spends more time detailing the polygamist life and abuses than in laying down the clues that will lead to Solomon's killer, waiting until the very last for Lena to have an ah-ha moment and failing to share the brainstorm with the reader. Webb does give up the murderer but it is a wetly fizzled climax. What Webb does very well is populate her stories with standout characters, many of which get great cameos that don't last, and very little development beyond Lena's passing interest.


  • Less Than Perfect Family?
  • Desert Cut (A Lena Jones Mystery #5) by Betty Webb.
  • Wolfsseele (German Edition).
  • Webb describes the countryside beautifully but telegraphs the ending with a less sure hand. In the warring muddle of tracking down the murderer and moral outrage, Lena shines like a dark angel that lifts Desert Wives out of the ordinary. Webb spends most of her crystal clear prose generously on Lena and the landscape, but seems to ignore the basic premise of a mystery is to solve the case. I enjoyed Desert Wives and was fascinated by the polygamist machinations, in this fast paced story, but was faintly dissatisfied in the search for the killer.

    All's well that ends well, except when the ending feels rushed and incomplete. I did, however, enjoy finding out more about Lena's past. This must be in two parts. The book is very good.

    Lena Jones Mysteries

    And I like the setting as I lived in the area. I found the background information to be very good, even if I do not agree with the practices. I lived in the state many decades ago, four years and near one of the communities mentioned for only a few months. I was aware of polygamy and am still aware of it today being in the area.

    I came to understand how it came to be in their belief system. I was never aware of it being as abusive as represented here. At the same time I was never aware of the abusiveness of so many other relations as are reported in the news today. I do not think polygamy is the reason for the violence. The abuse of others by any religious group is the issue, at least for me in relation to this book. I hope others read this book, and then think hard about the treatment of others, especially women, that is happening in society.

    Desert Rage

    As with most books I read I wondered if I would keep or delete this from my library. I was all gung-ho at the beginning, but as another reviewer said, it became preachy. We get it already.

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    The lives the women led was atrocious. But we were here for the mystery, or suspense. I don't think that was handled very well, though we got a huge dose of how complicated the relationships are in a polygamy community. It was hard for me to rate this.

    Desert Cut (Lena Jones Mystery, book 5) by Betty Webb

    It had its moments. I figured if she solved the murder, it would be a hurried affair and probably poorly done. Buy this if you want to know just how far man's inhumanity to man woman can extend. Buy it if you wonder about polygamy. Don't buy it if you want a good mystery story. See all 78 reviews. Most recent customer reviews.