On the jacket of Betty Webb's latest Lena Jones mystery, Desert Wind, David Morrell is quoted as saying, "A must-read." It is. Webb has tackled tough subjects before, everything from polygamy to genital mutilation on young girls, but Desert Wind may be her most controversial and powerful book yet. It's a book that should scare everyone living in the Southwest.
In 1954 in Snow Canyon, Utah, Gabe Boone was a horse wrangler on the set of the filming of The Conqueror, a film that starred John Wayne as Genghis Khan, and Susan Hayward and Agnes Moorehead. Gabe idolized Wayne, who treated all the cast and crew as friends, including the Paiute Indians. But, Gabe did notice that the red dust got in people's lungs, and there were even blisters in the mouths of the horses. The Paiutes themselves had blisters in their mouths. Although Gabe didn't realize it at the time, he was witnessing death.
Almost sixty years later, Lena Jones arrives at her office at Scottsdale, Arizona's Desert Investigations to find her partner, Jimmy Sisiwan, missing. Her uneasy feeling only grew when she received strange messages saying he'd be out for a week or longer, so she tracks him down in Walapai Flats in northwestern Arizona. His brother had been put in jail as a material witness in a murder, and now Jimmy is in jail as well. Lena interferes with Jimmy's plans, and takes it upon herself to find the person who killed the PR man for Black Basin Uranium Mine. The mine, just about to open, is controversial. Many of the residents hope for jobs at the mine, but Jimmy's sister-in-law, an outspoken opponent, was killed in a shooting, and that killer is still loose.
Lena finds resistance in the community, people unwilling to answer her questions. And, Gabe Boone, with his knowledge of the past, might have the key to reveal the secrets of Walapai Flats. Generations of lies and secrets, of scars, may have led to murder in present-day Arizona.
Each time readers pick up a Lena Jones mystery, we hope to learn a little more about Lena's mysterious past. There have been glimpses into her traumatic childhood, and her time in foster homes. Webb still gives us a glimpse here and there in this book, but Lena's past isn't the focus of this latest crime novel.
Instead, this is about crime on a grand scale, with implications for all Americans, especially those of us who live in the Southwest, I'm not going to spoil Webb's story by giving away too much. She unravels the past beautifully, along with the repercussions. I'll just say, Desert Wind, the latest Lena Jones mystery, is powerful, political, and a book that serves as a warning. David Morrell is right. It truly is "A must-read."
I have been a library manager/administrator for over 30 years, in Ohio, Florida, Arizona, and, now, Indiana. Winner of the 2011 Arizona Library Association Outstanding Library Service Award. I am a contributing Book Reviewer for Library Journal, Mystery Readers Journal, ReadertoReader.com and VibrantNation.com. Winner of the 2009 and 2010 Spinetingler Awards for Best Reviewer. First Fan Guest of Honor for Desert Sleuths Chapter of Sisters in Crime, Write Now! Conference.
It's an honor to be asked to review books, and I'm grateful to all the publishers, publicists, and authors who send me books. Thank you. Reviews will appear on my blog if I've had a chance to read, and finish, the book. If I do not finish a book, I won't review it, and I will not respond to emails asking when, or if, I'll be reviewing a book.
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1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book
Book: 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea: A Counting Book Author: Dianne Moritz Illustrator: Hazel Mitchell Pages: 36 Age Range: 3-6 1, 2, 3 ... By the Sea is a nice lit...
My Oct. 19, 2009 blog provides full disclosure that I only receive review copies of books, with no other compensation. All review copies are marked as such. If there any any questions, please feel free to contact me.