A Lena Jones Mystery
By Betty Webb
(Poisoned Pen Press, Hardcover, 9781590580301, 300pp.)
Publication Date: January 2003
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Polygamy can be murder!
That's what private detective Lena Jones learns when she helps thirteen year old Rebecca escape from Purity, a polygamy compound hidden in a desolate area near straddling Utah/Arizona border.
When Rebecca's mother is arrested for the murder of Prophet Solomon Royal, Rebecca's intended husband, Lena enters Purity masquerading as a polygamist wife to uncover the real murderer. In doing so, Lena finds out more than she bargained for--the shocking secret the cult's Circle of Elders will kill to keep.
During her investigations, Lena also discovers more about her own past. At the age of four she was found lying unconscious by the side of an Arizona highway, a bullet robbing her of her memories. Raised in a series of foster homes, Lena does not remember her real name nor the names of her parents. She thinks she has put the past behind her, but the sins of Purity's polygamous mothers and fathers force her to reexamine the few memories she has of her own motherthe woman who shot her...
Before writing mysteries full time, Betty Webb worked as a journalist, interviewing everyone from U.S. presidents and Nobel Prize winners, to the homeless and polygamy runaways. Most of her books are based on the stories she covered as a reporter. Today she's a volunteer at the Phoenix Zoo, and is also a member of the National Federation of Press Women, Mystery Writers of America, the Society of Southwestern Authors, and Women Writing the West.
"If Betty Webb had gone undercover and written Desert Wives as a piece of investigative journalism, she'd probably be up for a Pulitzer…” --New York Times “Dark humor and thrilling action inform Webb’s second Lena Jones mystery, a searing exposé of the abuses of contemporary polygamy…. The beauty of the Southwestern backdrop belies the harshness of life, the corrupt officials, brutal men and frightened women depicted in this arresting novel brimming with moral outrage. If the nation isn’t too absorbed in fighting religious tyranny abroad, this book could do for polygamy what Uncle Tom’s Cabin did for slavery.” –Publishers Weekly “Stark desert surroundings underscore the provocative subject matter, the outspoken protagonist, and the “insider” look at polygamist life. Webb’s second Lena Jones mystery, after Desert Noir, is recommended for most collections.” –Library Journal