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.