DESERT NOIR: A Lena Jones Mystery

Betty Webb, Author . Poisoned Pen $23.95 (251p) ISBN 978-1-890208-63-9

When her friend who runs an art gallery across the street in Scottsdale, Ariz., is brutally murdered, Lena Jones of Desert Investigations decides to track down the killer in this highly accomplished debut of what promises to be an exciting new series. Clarice Kobe's abusive husband, Jay, is the natural suspect, but the Apache artist George Haozous, whose graphically violent paintings were ejected from the gallery not long before, arouses suspicion, as do members of Clarice's family and the owner of the adjoining gallery. And one trail may lead Lena to an answer she has been searching for her entire adult life—her own identity: after being shot in the head at age four and left for dead, she grew up in a succession of foster homes. Webb uses these two quests to present a fully realized picture of Arizona, from barrios to mountaintop mansions, with the rich backdrop of Indian legend and desert facing erosion by urban sprawl. The series feel is comfortable, from Lena's contacts on the local police force (before another bullet forced her to go private) to her sleuthing partner, Jimmy Sisiwan, a Pima Indian and computer whiz. Her boyfriend, Dusty, being a Clint Eastwood look-alike seems a bit much, but for every aspect that doesn't quite click, five others do, and the writing is solid and fun: "I'd gotten warmer receptions raiding dogfights"; "At $4 per oyster, the slimy little bastards should deliver multiple orgasms." A must read for any fan of the modern female PI novel. 16-city author tour.(June 11)

Reviewed on: 05/21/2001
Release date: 06/01/2001
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