Sunday, January 27, 2008

Mystery Book Review: Desert Cut by Betty Webb

Mysterious ReviewsMysterious Reviews, mysteries reviewed by the Hidden Staircase Mystery Books, has written a review of Desert Cut by Betty Webb. For our blog readers, we are printing it first here in advance of its publication on our website.

Desert Cut by Betty WebbBuy from
Desert Cut by
A Lena Jones Mystery

Poisoned Pen Press (Hardcover)
ISBN-10: 1-59058-491-0 (1590584910)
ISBN-13: 978-1-59058-491-0 (9781590584910)
Publication Date: February 2008
List Price: $24.95

Synopsis (from the publisher): While scouting locations for a film documentary on the 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. Clashing with the local law, Lena's investigation uncovers a small town with a big secret.

Los Perdidos is not the Eden it first appears. Founded by the descendants of pioneers who fought Geronimo, the townspeople have now armed themselves against the hordes of illegal immigrants streaming across the Arizona/Mexico border. A significant population of documented foreign-born residents also lives and works in Los Perdidos at a modern plant. Lena senses a sinister force at work in the town—but where? Then two more girls disappear from Los Perdidos, and as the death toll mounts, Lena is tempted to implement some frontier justice of her own. When she finally unmasks the killer, she discovers a chain of horrific crimes responsible for subjugating millions of girls and women around the globe.

Review: Arizona private investigator Lena Jones discovers the body of a young girl and the disturbing manner of her death while on a working vacation in Desert Cut, the 5th mystery in this series by Betty Webb.

Lena and Oscar-winning director Warren McQuinn are in southern Arizona scouting areas in the foothills of Dragoon Mountain. Warren wants to set the scene for filming his latest effort: a historical documentary dealing with the Apache Wars in the 1800s. While exploring the area they stumble across the dead, mutilated body of a dark skinned child they guess to be about seven years old. Lena calls the Sheriff of Cochise County who is not shocked by the discovery. He tells Lena and Warren that this is a haven for people wanting to cross the border from Mexico to the US. Not only do Mexicans cross here, but also Africans and immigrants from the Middle East. Many children do not live through the experience and are buried in shallow graves where they die. Coyotes and vultures take over from there. Warren decides they should leave the area and return to their homes. Lena, however, devastated by the sight of the child and driven by the sporadic memories of her own embroiled childhood, cannot and will not leave. She is told that two other children have died or are missing. Lena, once a cop herself, senses a portentous power developing and without the permission or help forges on. Inasmuch as the local officials will not share the physical or forensic evidence with Lena, she asks questions of doctors, field officers, families, friends, and even drunks in a bar. When Lena realizes what crimes have been committed, she sets out, more determined than ever, to find the criminal. The Sheriff does everything he can, short of putting her in jail, to stop Lena’s “meddling” fearing that she would be the next trophy on the killer’s agenda.

Desert Cut is a powerful, albeit very disquieting, book. The characters are true, the multi-layered plot fast paced and memorable. Webb blends paganistic, very real facts into her fictional murder mystery with the result being an unforgettable story. For readers who want more information, she concludes the book with resources for more information.

Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of for contributing her review of Desert Cut and to Poisoned Pen Press for providing an ARC of the book for this review.

Review Copyright © 2008 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved.

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