DESERT SHADOWS: Publishing Can Be Murder
Loyalty, compassion and a sharp sense of humor help Arizona PI Lena Jones survive as she continues to struggle with her troubled past in Webb's third socially conscious, thought-provoking mystery (after 2003's Desert Wives ). When Gloriana Alden-Taylor, the 75-year-old patrician founder of controversial Patriot's Blood Press, is fatally poisoned at the banquet held at the annual Southwest Book Publisher's Expo (SOBOP), Lena's Pima Indian partner, Jimmy Sisiwan, enlists Lena's aid in trying to prove the innocence of the chief suspect, Jimmy's cousin Owen, "a Bronze Star–winning Afghan War hero." Lena soon discovers that many people had the opportunity to slip deadly water hemlock into the victim's salad, ranging from the Reverend Melvin Giblin, who happens to have been a former foster father of Jones, to the fanatical racist author Randall Ott and his equally vicious lady friend. As the suspense builds, the author touches on such issues as consolidation in the book industry, the plight of foster children, mother-daughter relationships, animal rescue programs and more. The glorious Southwest landscape once again provides the perfect setting for Webb's courageous heroine. Agent, Cine/Lit. (July 9)
Forecast: With Desert Wives, which explored contemporary polygamy in the U.S., currently in development to become a TV movie, and the Lena Jones books in development to become a TV series, the long-term sales picture for Webb looks rosy.