Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Desert Vengeance by Betty Webb

Recently, author Anne Perry posed a moral question. Should you do something morally repugnant to you in order to fulfill a duty? Private investigator Lena Jones faces a moral question in Betty Webb's latest mystery, Desert Vengeance. Should she hunt for the person who killed a pedophile and his wife? Does anyone want the killer captured?

When "Papa" Brian Wycoff was released from an Arizona prison, his wife, Norma, is waiting for him. So is Lena Jones, but she's waiting with a large knife, She does nothing more than threaten him, reminding him that she was the child who knifed him and eventually brought him down. But, it wasn't until after he had raped her multiple times while she was in foster care. There were seven children prepared to testify against him when he went to trial. But, Norma insisted they were liars. The day after his release, "that Mistress of Denial", Norma Wycoff, is found murdered. Wycoff, fearing he's next, breaks probation, and flees. It's easy to track a felon when you're a private investigator.

Lena finds an unusual B&B, trailers close to Wycoff's sister's home. It's only when Brian Wycoff is found brutally murdered, though, that she finds out how unusual that B&B is. The owner, and several of the current renters, are women whose children went missing years earlier. Now, all of them are suspects in the gruesome death of a pedophile.

For the first time in years, Lena has a dreamless sleep after her rapist is killed. But, when an arrest comes, she's forced to look for a killer in order to get a troubled mother and innocent woman out of jail. Her investigation brings back memories of her childhood before she was four, memories she's been blocking. And, the woman who has never been able to let anyone into her life, finally reaches out.

Lena still has so far to go. Webb still leaves secrets in Lena's life, and leaves Lena unaware of love. Webb leaves us clues. Each new story is one more step towards answers.

Betty Webb has tackled tough stories in the past. She's dealt with polygamy, runaways and throwaways from polygamist sects, cancer-causing tests in the desert, the true stories of Nazi internment camps in Arizona. Once again, she delves into a tough subject, pedophiles, foster care, and missing children. How far should Lena go in searching for the killer of a known pedophile, and the woman who enabled him? What is justice? In Desert Vengeance, it's a compelling, troubling question. It's a troubling question in a riveting, powerful book.

Betty Webb's website is http://www.bettywebb-mystery.com

Desert Vengeance by Betty Webb. Poisoned Pen Press. 2017. ISBN 9781464205934 (hardcover), 273p.

FTC Full Disclosure - I bought my copy of the book.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Jackie is a big fan of the Lena Jones series (I've read a few of them). I was able to download a copy for her from the library. Thanks for reviewing it.

Grace Koshida said...

I am also a big fan of the Lena Jones book, mainly because (as you said) Betty Webb is not afraid of highlighting issues such as polygamy, sects, and other issues in Arizona. Lena is a troubled, complicated protagonist who I root for. I will add this newest "Desert" book to my TBR collection.

Lesa said...

Jackie and I share quite a few authors in common, Jeff. Tell her this one is very good.

Lesa said...

Yes, Betty has received some not so complimentary comments about some of those issues, but she was proven right about the polygamy in Arizona. Like you, I root for Lena to eventually find some peace.

Diane said...

I too have this book on my library list. Have loved this series since I discovered it years ago and am so glad to see a new entry in it. But it is funny, as much as I love her desert books, I really do not like her zoo series at all. Guess they are just too different from each other.

Lesa said...

Diane, Desert Vengeance won't disappoint you. No, I understand. The characters, the tone. The two series are very different.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

Diane, my wife feels the same about the zoo series.