Polygamy Can Be Murder
Lena Jones Mystery, No 2
By Betty Webb
Poisoned Pen Press - January 2003
ISBN: 1590580303 - Hardcover
Some explicit material

Reviewed by Nancy Mehl for
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Last year, I was introduced to private detective Lena Jones in DESERT NOIR. The setting, Scottsdale, Arizona, intrigued me since I'd lived in the Valley of the Sun myself and still have family there. However, the novelty melted away as quickly as an ice cube in the hot desert sun as I became captivated by the story - and by Lena herself. I've been watching for the second in the series and was excited when I heard that DESERT WIVES was ready for release. As much as I enjoyed the first book, this one was even better!

Lena tries to protect a thirteen-year-old girl who has been promised to the leader of a renegade Mormon cult, but when her intended husband, Prophet Solomon Royal, is found murdered in the desert, things become complicated. Rebecca's mother is arrested, and her father, who is a committed member of the polygamist group, plans to send the young girl back into the arms of the cult. In a desperate attempt to protect Rebecca and find the real murderer, Lena goes inside the complex, masquerading as the wife of a man who has his own reasons to seek release from the group.

The charismatic new leader of the polygamists, Davis Royal, is the son of the dead Prophet. Lena finds herself drawn to this handsome man who appears to be the antithesis of his cruel father. Davis bans marriages for girls under sixteen and seems to bring compassion and reform to the repressed citizens of Purity. But is he everything he seems to be? And what is the secret the Council of Elders protects behind locked doors? As the investigation into the death of Solomon Royal begins to bring answers, Lena finds that there are questions no one thought to ask - and a horrible truth that is beyond anything she ever imagined.

Betty Webb has created a character who will keep you coming back for more. Lena's own tragic past is woven through every case she takes and every relationship she has. DESERT WIVES brings us a little closer to the truth - but there are still mysteries to unlock. Not only inside Lena, but also in the tightly written, suspenseful plots so masterfully delivered by this author. This is a compelling novel that I just couldn't put down. The subject matter is even more disturbing because of its awful reality.

Last year, DESERT NOIR, made my Top Ten list. This year, DESERT WIVES makes the list again. Keep 'em coming, Betty!


Other reviews in this series

Desert Noir, No 1
Desert Wives, No 2
Desert Shadows, No 3
Desert Run
, No 4
Desert Cut
, No 5
Desert Lost, No 6
Desert Wind, No 7

Nancy Mehl is the author of "Graven Images" and "Sinner's Song."

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