Desert Vengeance by Betty Webb
is a mystery/thriller series surrounding the main character
detective Lena Jones. As with all Webb books she has a gripping
plot while exploring the psyche of those she writes about,
intertwining human rights issues. In this installment, the
subject matters of sexual abuse and foster parenting are explored.
As a nine-year-old, Lena's foster father,
Brian Wycoff, repeatedly raped her every week. To make matters
worse, his wife was an enabler, knowingly looking the other
way. Lena is waiting to exact revenge for his crimes on the
day he is released from prison. She has every intention of
killing this man but is thwarted when someone gets to him
first. Now there are more murders to solve because his wife
was killed, shot in each eye. After being cleared as a suspect,
Lena uses her profession of a private detective to investigate
what really happened considering there are multiple suspects
The author noted, “In doing my research
I actually found a site on the Internet that is devoted to
women married to child molesters. Reading this is one of the
creepiest things I have ever done. They are full of self-pity.
They never, at any time, discuss the pain a child went through
at the hands of their spouse. They really do not care. The
common thread is their worrying about finances since the spouse
was the money support. They very rarely blow the whistle and
seem to keep their mouths shut making sure the money flows
Even though she is seen as someone seeking vengeance, Lena
is a very likable, believable, and sympathetic character.
The theme is about letting go, and Lena must do exactly that
while trying to control her obsession of getting justice.
In all her books, Webb uses her past experiences
to write these riveting stories. Having been a journalist
for over twenty years she was exposed to many different kinds
of cases. She knows what it is like to write about controversial
issues, and uses those skills to make the novels very realistic.
In this case, readers are able to learn about child molestation
without the many horrific details.
With a powerful subject, enthralling characters, and a compelling
plot readers will not want to put this book down. Webb offers
a twist and turn mystery, that is not superficial because
of the way she presents such gripping issues.